Seniors across the country are living more active lifestyles than the generations that came before them. Retirement years are now the years for you to pursue new hobbies, make new friends, and learn new things. Thanks, in part, to longer lifespans and increased financial security, today’s seniors are finding new ways to connect with one another and stay engaged with the communities around them.
An active lifestyle is imperative for older adults who are seeking to remain healthy well into their retirement years. Learn more about the benefits of pursuing an active lifestyle, as well as exploring a few unique ideas that you may not have tried out yet.
Benefits of an Active Lifestyle
Seniors of all ages and stages can benefit from an active lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control touts benefits of physical activity for seniors ranging from reducing the risk of falls to decreasing joint pain associated with arthritis. Certainly, exercise and other physical activity can benefit seniors physically, cognitively, and even emotionally. However, it is important to note that a senior does not need to be running marathons in order to reap the benefits. A simple walk around the block consistently each week can be just enough to see—and feel—the benefits.
An active lifestyle for seniors should not just include physical activity. Adults over the age of 65 should also actively pursue hobbies and opportunities that nurture many of dimensions of wellness. According to the National Wellness Institute, the six dimensions of wellness include physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and occupational. Striving for growth and participation in each of these dimensions can help seniors have an increased feeling of wellness and health.
With the benefits of an active senior lifestyle piling up thanks to concentrated research efforts, it is hard to find seniors who prefer to sit on the couch and watch television. If you are looking for a few new ways to pass the time and stay active, take a look at some of our favorite unique activities that meet a variety of wellness needs.
Unique Options to Try
Make your own terrarium (spiritual, physical, social, intellectual)
You don’t need a green thumb to make your own terrarium, and succulents are an ideal plant for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. The next time you head to the garden store, choose one or two succulents to bring home with you. At home, grab a mason jar and put rocks or pebbles in the bottom of the jar, followed by potting soil. Plant your succulent and add a bit of moss for different texture. These DIY succulent terrariums make the perfect addition to your kitchen counter, or you can cluster them in groups of three on end tables. Your neighbors would also love to be given one of your creations, so make an extra one or two to give to someone who could use a bit of encouragement.
Learn something new (intellectual, emotional, spiritual)
Taking classes at your local community college, or attending a lecture at your senior living community is a wonderful way to learn something new. However, you may be missing out on some important topics—and a lot of inspiration—that you can get right at home. Consider watching one TED talk every day for a month, for a quarter, or for a year. You will finish up your TED “streak” with ample knowledge and inspiration—plus, you will wow your friends with interesting facts at your next dinner date. You can find an extensive library online with topics varying from the water crisis to deep space, and you may be able to catch a talk locally, depending on where you live.
Volunteer (occupational, emotional, physical, intellectual)
In your retirement years, you have time to finally give back to organizations or causes that you have cared about your whole life. Volunteering is a lovely way to show your appreciation for important national or local organizations. First, find a local or national organization or cause that you care about. Then, give them a call to talk about what you can do for them based on your abilities, access to transportation, and passions. Most places have opportunities for volunteers to participate either on-site or off-site, which means even if you cannot leave your apartment, you can still volunteer in meaningful ways.
Leave a legacy (emotional, intellectual, spiritual)
Finally, consider starting that book you always wanted to write. Even if you are not a writer, a simple routine of daily journaling can leave your family with memories and insights they may have never known. Try to answer one question each day in a journal or notebook that you pick up on your next trip to the store. Questions can be fun ones like, “what did you do for fun in the summer as a child?” or “tell me about your favorite Christmas dress?” Questions can also be more serious, like “what was the hardest part of being a parent?” If you can’t think of questions to answer, ask your family and friends for input. They will give you questions that you would never think of. You can also use services such as Legacy.com, which send you questions via email and compile your answers into a bound book at the end of the project.
No matter which activity you choose to pursue, keep things varied and interesting. If you are curious about other ways to get involved with healthy habits in your senior years, check out our Retirement Guide.