Recently I heard that one in ten people in the UK are lonely. The lonely old lady is probably the most obvious stereotype. However, a report by the Mental Health Foundation suggests that loneliness is increasing amongst young people. Michelle Mitchell, charity director general of Age UK says that loneliness tends to be triggered by a big life event such as bereavement, poor health, money problems, children leaving home, divorce, friends dying. There are also social changes such as an increased number of people choosing to live alone (this has apparently almost doubled between 1973 and 2011). One study suggests that people of working age who live alone increase their risk of depression by up to 80% compared to those who live in families. Modern life has a lot to answer for. Social networking allows people to keep in touch – far better than in the past. Or is it? The changed way in which we keep in touch – less face to face contact, is this really better? Loneliness can lead to mental health problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. So, what can be done about it? Joining a group such as a local church, joining community outreach programmes, doing voluntary work, getting involved in small social groups will all help to keep a good social life. However, since we know that exercise can reduce the very health problems which are highlighted by loneliness; joining an exercise class would be ideal. Classes which encourage a social element, ‘walking and talking’ is a wonderful way to make friends.