Social Withdrawal and Loneliness Among Older Adult Athletes: A Case for Playing Alone

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Some older adults may not receive social connection due to social withdrawal, potentially resulting in loneliness. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between social withdrawal and loneliness, in the context of sports participation. The authors hypothesized that individuals who are more shy and avoidant would be more lonely than those who are less shy and avoidant, and that those who are unsocial would not necessarily be more lonely. The authors also hypothesized individual sport participation would further exacerbate loneliness over group sport participation. Results from participants in the Huntsman Senior Games (n = 374) indicated that as shyness, avoidance, and unsociability increased, loneliness increased as well. Furthermore, shy athletes in group sports reported higher levels of loneliness than those in individual sports. Although the authors seek to prevent individuals from being lonely in later life, there may be instances where removing oneself from a group is beneficial for mental health.

The authors are with Brigham Young University Provo, Provo, UT.

Hill (Melanie.serrao@gmail.com) is corresponding author.
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