Seniors are a population with perhaps the highest amount of spare time. But what’s the best way to use it? The answers to this question are infinite, though it’s a good idea to focus on activities that keep the mind and body engaged. Some that achieve this include:
Walking: The more we do it, research suggests, the better off we are. JustStand.org, an organization dedicated to “raising awareness of the dangers of excessive sitting” published an infographic outlining the health risks associated with prolonged inactivity and the many benefits of spending more time on your feet. Their conclusion is simple, “standing a little more each day tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, ramps up metabolism and burns extra calories”.
Swimming: For those who have a harder time walking, swimming is an excellent alternative. The American Senior Communities reports that this activity promotes results similar to those of walking but “it’s easy on the joints for those who suffer from joint pain and discomfort. It’s a full-body workout that keeps the pressure off your hips, knees and spine”. This is because our natural buoyancy lessens the impact of gravity in water. And be careful not to confuse swimming with the back and forth repetition of laps; any activity in water is beneficial.
Gardening: There are plenty of positives linked with this activity. It is a light form of exercise, embraces the outdoors, and produces a sense of accomplishment that can be tailored to any ability level. With improvements in gardening tools and various layout methods, seniors can safely experience the joys of gardening well into their elder years.
Reading: Research performed by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “elderly people who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are 2 ½ times less likely to have [Alzheimer’s Disease]”. This is because the brain, like any other part of the body, becomes stronger with use. Those who regularly stimulate it are more engaged and at a lower risk for age-related memory issues. Enjoy a story while strengthening your mind— that’s quite an inviting proposition.
Volunteering: Volunteering: If you’re looking for an activity that benefits more than just yourself, consider volunteering. There are a multitude of opportunities present wherever you live many of which are compatible with your changing abilities. For ideas, check out AARP’s volunteer web page. It has a Volunteer Wizard that pairs your interests with suitable ways of giving back and has a blog full of stories of other seniors’ volunteer experiences.
Stimulation of the mind and body are vital in maintaining good health. The above activities are excellent ways to do so but by no means comprehensive. What do you love to do? If it achieves these goals keep going and let the benefits pile up.