Social inclusion and exercise


women with fitballs

Participating in sports, exercise and recreational activities are a healthy and beneficial way to feel included and connected to your local community.

Exercise has positive effects that are not limited to your physical health. Exercise can be a great way to connect with people you know, can be a fun way to meet new people or make new friends, and it increases positive feelings and social interaction within communities.

There are endless ways to become more involved, why not try and:

  • Google it

Join an exercise-based social group. Many social media sites, such as Active Melbourne City Sports, advertise walking groups, running groups or social events linked to sporting activities. Groups are often specifically aimed at people who want to make new friends and increase their community participation.

  • Run for a cause

Choose your favourite charity and sign up to participate in a group fun-run. There are often plenty of options for you to participate regardless of your fitness level. Contact your charity of choice and see if you can join a group running together to raise money.

  • Get the whole family on board

Get your kids enrolled in a sports team and join the fun by helping with coaching, umpiring or simply cheering on your little champions. You’ll be run off your feet chasing loose balls, chopping up the half-time oranges or manning the canteen between games. And it is a great way to meet other parents and widen your social group.

  • Community classes

Check out what group activities are offered at your local community centre. You might even be eligible for free classes if you’re a holder of a concession card. Join your neighbours in some free Tai-Chi, a walking group or gentle exercise classes for all abilities.

  • Walk and talk

Take your pet pooch to the park and chat with other local dog-lovers. Animals are helpful social connectors, they give us reasons to make contact and start conversations. Ask the person at the park with the well-behaved dog for some tips!

  • Learn something new

Enrol in group lessons for a sport you’ve always wanted to try. Learning a new sport is not just for kids, many sports clubs and coaches offer adult coaching or sports teams to get involved in. It might be too late to make the Olympic team, but don’t let that stop you.

  • Ask your local YMCA-managed centre about getting started

At YMCA Victoria we believe it is important that health and happiness is accessible for everyone – not just the people who can afford it. If you need assistance accessing health and wellness programs, speak to a Customer Service Officer at your local YMCA-managed centre about applying for a subsidized membership through our Open Doors program.

Many of us are aware that exercise is important for our physical wellbeing – but just as important is the fact that exercise can be a great way to combat social isolation and lonliness.

Social exercise can boost feelings of support, belonging and positivity – feelings which are integral for mental wellbeing. Social exercise can also foster relationship building and can encourage healthier and happier communities.

So get exercising with others, while increasing social connection.