We all know diet and exercise play an important role in longevity, but studies are now showing that factors such as purpose, family and social networks can also influence how long you live.

The Blue Zones Project locates places that have the highest concentrations of individuals over 100 years old, as well as clusters of people who have grown old without health problems like heart disease, obesity, cancer, or diabetes. Common threads such as physical activity and eating plenty of vegetables have been highlighted as ways to stay healthy in old age but just as important is living in a tight-knit community.

There are plenty of community groups in Sussex to get involved in – we’ve found 4 fabulous ones to get you started on your way to better health and a full social life!

The Sussex Wildlife Trust holds events, including guided walks, talks and slide shows, which is a terrific way for you to extend your knowledge of wildlife and meet like-minded people who share an interest in the natural world.

The Wildlife Trust’s Local Groups are based in Eastbourne, Chichester and Selsey. They organise a wide range of events throughout the year in their local areas. As well as enjoying events you can also volunteer with the Trust. Volunteering is a great chance to make a positive contribution to improving your local area, learn new skills and make new friends. From fundraising to practical conservation, working with children, or offering your specific skills to make a difference, they have plenty of available opportunities.

The Oyster Project is based in Lewes and is an award-winning voluntary community offering peer support and encouraging people who want to get involved in the local community. This Sussex charity was founded by creative people who are each dealing with their own unique circumstances which contribute to their being disadvantaged & disabled. They support weekly drama groups, hold an over 60s social & creative club, an annual family camp and focus heavily on wellbeing and the arts.

Social club, Connections is a space for single people aged 50 and over in East Sussex located along the coast from Seaford to Hastings. The group enjoy sharing social and cultural events such as meals out, theatre trips, cinema days, walks, table tennis, quizzes and concerts. They describe their members as lively, intelligent, and curious but essentially, they all enjoy social interactions with other like-minded people. An event sheet is emailed out every month and members call to book in. Connections hold a Bar Night every month and encourage prospective members to attend to see if they want to join.

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) works with people across Sussex to help them to discover, improve and enjoy local green spaces. They believe in creating happier and healthier communities by bringing people together as well as encouraging people to connect with the natural environment. As well as transforming green spaces, the TCV offers unique ‘Green Gyms’, which help to enhance mental and physical health.

Green Gyms offer outdoor sessions where members are guided in practical activities such as planting trees, clearing play areas, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds. With a clear focus on improving health and fitness, the groups are led through a warm-up in preparation for a range of light to vigorous activities to suit all abilities, and a cool down before heading off for the rest of their day. People are feeling the wide range of benefits from these Green Gyms, so much so GPs are beginning to recommend them to patients.

Now you know of 4 amazing community groups that you can join in the Sussex area where you can meet some new and friendly faces. Before you know it, you’ll be socialising, having fun and sharing a good laugh in no time.

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