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New Virgin Pulse Global Challenge Launching to Combat Loneliness & Social Isolation Epidemic

Five-week challenge designed to foster social connections and reverse costly adverse health risks  

Providence, R.I., August 15, 2023 – Social isolation and loneliness is a worldwide problem and is clinically proven to be detrimental to individual and population health. As the leading global digital-first health, wellbeing, and navigation company, Virgin Pulse is committed to improving the total wellbeing of millions and stimulating meaningful connections. The company is inviting thousands of employer and health plan clients to participate in a new global challenge designed to motivate people to make and deepen connections in all aspects of their lives.  

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently declared loneliness a public health epidemic, stating that the health risks of loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of premature death, heart disease, stroke, and mental health issues. Dr. Murthy’s Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation Report stated that approximately half of U.S. adults report loneliness – with older adults facing the highest rates of social isolation, and with young adults being almost twice as likely to report feeling lonely than those over 65. Stress-related absenteeism attributed to loneliness costs employers an estimated $154 billion annually. Internationally, more than nine million people in the U.K. say they feel lonely some or most of the time, 1 in 2 Australians feel more lonely since the pandemic, and 9% of adults in Japan say they feel left out, lonely, or isolated. 

Virgin Pulse’s new Striding for Connection challenge is being offered to all current clients worldwide to empower members to foster new connections while strengthening current relationships. Members will be challenged over the course of five weeks to get moving via simple, everyday actions – whether walking, running, or some other form of step-taking activity – connecting with their colleagues, friends, or family members for healthy competition and accountability. Designed for both introverts and extroverts, the clinically validated challenge content will also embolden and teach members to deepen their social connections in many areas of their lives, encouraging them to strike up conversations with neighbors, attend a local reading or community social group, or just nurture a relationship by acknowledging a birthday or initiating a meetup. These connections will help form a sense of community, combat feelings of loneliness, and further support their emotional and physical wellbeing.  

“As a global organization with a hybrid work environment, we have a wide range of employees with varying life situations. What’s common to all our people is no matter their location or situation, there is a desire for human connection. Yet, we’ve heard from many that they’re struggling. We rely on Virgin Pulse to support all aspects of their wellbeing, so we are elated that they are introducing this new global connection challenge at a heightened period of need. We’re looking forward to hearing about all the new relationships forged inside and outside of work in the coming months,” said Peggy Sczepanski, global wellbeing program manager at Dow Inc., proudly the first Virgin Pulse client to sign on to offer the Striding for Connection challenge. 

“Social connection is fundamental to survival. It creates a sense of belonging and is linked to reduced risk of depression and anxiety, lower stress levels, increased motivation to engage in self-care, and longer life,” said Jeffrey Jacques, MD, chief medical officer for Virgin Pulse. “Employers, health plans, and other organizations are at the epicenter of addressing this epidemic and stimulating meaningful relationships. Our new global challenge will help clients take steps to improve social wellbeing and reverse the adverse effects of loneliness and isolation worldwide.” 

Virgin Pulse navigates millions through everyday lifestyle choices and important health decisions in a dynamic, ultra-personalized way. This includes taking steps to stay healthy, managing chronic conditions, finding care, and understanding healthcare benefits and costs. Its comprehensive Homebase for Health® platform features many ways for people to connect year-round including: 

  • Challenges & Incentives – A library of 80+ challenges for friendly competition plus rewards and digital trophies that incentivize members.  
  • Emotional & Physical Wellbeing Support – Members and their families may have access to on-demand coaching as well as Employee Assistance Program options.  
  • Social Groups – Members can join and create social groups based on interests, connecting with those with similar preferences and goals.  
  • Shoutouts – Give and receive brief messages of appreciation and encouragement for motivation and to recognize accomplishments. 

Dr. Jacques added, “Simply stated, we are linking arms with as many of our clients as possible to make the world a little less lonely and a lot healthier.” 

The more steps we take together, the stronger we become. To learn more visit Global Connect Challenge | Striding for Connection.​​