By Lisa Cini
Maintaining an active lifestyle is good for people of all ages. For seniors, staying active can bring a number of benefits. These include strength and balance improvement; better mood and feelings; lowered risk of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer; enhanced ability to learn, think and make decisions; and enhanced appreciation of one’s self.
Many seniors suffer from boredom as a result of isolation or health conditions that may limit their ability to be active. This issue shouldn’t be treated lightly. Isolation affects both physical and mental well-being, and can be a precursor to depression.
Luckily, there are a number of ways for seniors to stay active and achieve a healthy lifestyle. Here are some great ideas to learn and explore on how to stay active as a senior.
1. Take advantage of the services that are offered at senior centers.
Senior centers can be found in various communities whether large or small, urban or rural and are amazing resources. Some senior centers are lucky enough to be run by the county or city with local public funding. It offers several services that range from day programs, support groups, classes and social meals. You can explore volunteer placement services, therapeutic massage, political forums, health clinics, outdoor hikes, dances, and more. Try checking the phone directory or online to search for senior center listings that are available in your local town or neighborhood.
2. Do a variety of activities for enhanced physical balance and strengthening.
These activities can include moderate aerobic exercises, dancing, brisk walking, swimming, raking leaves, simple hand weights lifting, balancing, doing tai chi, and yoga. In doing an aerobic activity, aim for one that you can do for 30 minutes on several days of the week. Remember to seek a doctor’s advice on the level and types of physical activity that are suitable for you. This can be particularly necessary if you have some health issues such as diabetes, obesity or heart disease.
3. Be a volunteer or attend local events.
Get yourself more involved in the community by volunteering or attending local events. Discover new things, meet new people, and acquire a new passion. Maintain your health and positive outlook by doing activities that are not only enjoyable but are also meaningful. Some great volunteering opportunities can be found at Habitat for Humanity, United Service Organizations, Senior Corps, the Red Cross and countless others. You can also consider libraries, schools, childcare facilities, community centers and non-profits in your neighborhood.
4. Start or pursue a hobby.
There’s no such thing as being too late to start a new hobby. There are a number of hobbies that don’t need special skills nor prior knowledge. Choose something that really sparks your interest to help keep you motivated and inspired. It’s also a great opportunity to make new friends who share the same hobby and passion. With more time in your hands, now is your chance to discover the many benefits of pursuing a hobby. Some interesting hobbies that are worth considering include coloring, fishing, cooking, scrapbook making, crocheting, and painting.
5. Perform mind-stimulating activities.
Mind-stimulating activities such as solving puzzles and playing memory games can help keep adults stay fit, sharp and witty. Although our ability to learn suffers from a sudden decrease in momentum when we reach the ages of 5, 25, and 40, it doesn’t mean that we can also expect to lose our brain. You can solve crossword puzzles, play computer games, play a musical instrument, read informative books and magazines, learn a new language, and more.
6. Go on a road trip.
Road trips are one of the best ways to explore new sights and places while getting some well-deserved relaxation time. For retired seniors, you can take advantage of various perks such as senior travel deals and the flexibility to pick up and go depending on your schedule. To make the most out of your trip, you need to remember a few important things. First, choose a destination. Next, make an itinerary and identify your route. Get your vehicle checked including tire pressure and fluid levels before you leave. Pack smart and include an emergency kit, enough medication, and health insurance cards. Lastly, remember to drive safely.
7. Discover the benefits of getting a massage.
The older we get, the more our bodies start to slow down and experience a certain level of pain and stiffness that go with aging. We may find it difficult to continue doing all those physical activities that we enjoy due to certain chronic illnesses such as osteoarthritis or even Parkinson’s disease. Despite this sad reality, it is important for seniors to stay physically active since regular exercise helps improve flexibility and mobility including mental health. One effective and non-invasive way to alleviate some of these age-related conditions is massage therapy. When done regularly, seniors can expect to have an improved quality of life, increased levels of energy and improved overall health.
8. Grow an herb garden.
Growing an herb garden is easy and requires little to no experience in gardening. It’s also very easy to maintain and doesn’t need a lot of effort. One of the biggest benefits of herb gardening is that we can grow our own herbs easily which then allows us to experiment with a number of new and varying herb combinations. When we learn to use herbs in seasoning our dishes, we can be assured that we’re eating a healthy and nutritious diet. This is very helpful particularly as we age since it helps us reduce or perhaps even eliminate the use of certain food additives such as salt. Some of the herbs that grow great indoors include thyme, basil, oregano, lemongrass, chives, parsley, and mint.
9. Share your knowledge or expertise through teaching.
Do you have a specific skill or knowledge and interested to share it with others? You can volunteer to teach a class by becoming an instructor. Research and check for the requirements in teaching as well as your eligibility to teach. If you’re looking for opportunities that require minimal pre-requisites, you can try conducting classes in Zumba, Yoga, dance, baking, sewing, cooking, boxing and cycling.
10. Catch up on your reading by going to the library.
Nothing can compare to the pleasure of going to the library and being immersed in reading a very good book. After all, reading keeps our minds alert and more conscious of the world around us. Some cafes even have their own bookshelves filled with books to match their cozy interior for their book-loving guests. However, you may find yourself so engrossed which makes you lose track of time.
Lisa Cini is an award-winning senior living designer, President / CEO, Mosaic Design Studio and author of BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, The Future is Here: Senior Living Re-imagined, and Hive, which describes her family’s four generations living under the same roof in her own home. Lisa’s web site BestLivingTech.com offers tech products that help seniors embrace aging and live independently.