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Published on June 29, 2018

19 Fun Activities for Seniors to Stay Active Physically and Mentally

19 Fun Activities for Seniors to Stay Active Physically and Mentally

Your golden years are no time to be sitting on your hands, looking at the buses going by, like a bump on a log.

The formula for happiness is simple – stay connected to family, friends and community, get healthy, have fun and laugh tons. The following activities for seniors will give senior every opportunity to do just that, no matter the age. Enjoy!

1. Visit museums regularly to keep learning

Most cities have some great great art, history or cultural museums on hand. Make monthly visits to the museum.

You don’t have to wait for the special exhibits to enjoy what’s on display. Consider getting headsets or a walking tour to challenge yourself to learn more about what’s on display. Understanding the context for each piece will help you enjoy and appreciate each piece that much more!

2. Take art classes to keep your brain sharp

Creating is one of the best ways to keep your mind active. Whether you’re painting, drawing, taking photographs or doing pottery, art is fun, challenging and stimulating.

Studies have shown that doing art helps older adults reduce anxiety and depression while creating new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dentrites – helping the brain to adapt, reshape and restructure![1]

3. Go to current event classes and feel fulfilled

Politics isn’t for everyone but staying on top of current events and having the chance to learn the context for some of the world’s challenges and opportunities, ask questions and participate in classroom discussions can be exhilarating.

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It can also help you become an active participant in our democracy and make your vote more meaningful.

4. Try Mahjong and train your brain

Mahjong has exploded from its original roots in China. Played with four players, it’s social, strategic and fun. Plus learning how to play a new game will put your mind in overdrive.

5. Play cards to keep your mind challenged

Whether you’re playing poker, bridge, canasta, rummy or crazy eights there’s a card game for every level of play. Best of all cards are a great way to get social and keep your mind challenged – two ingredients that will help keep you sharp and happy!

6. Visit the library and read more books

Whether you like chicklit, thrillers, murder mysteries or high-brow literature, reading is fun and does wonders for the brain.It enhances memory, sharpens decision making skills, delays Alzheimer’s and reduces stress.

Take trips to the library to make reading economical and join book clubs if you want to make it a social activity as well!

7. Take walks to stay healthy

If staying mobile, independent and healthy is a goal of yours as you age, start walking! According to Harvard research, walking also has some other surprising benefits like reducing the effects of weight promoting genes, taming your sweet tooth, eases joint pain and boosts your immune function.[2]

If the heat is too much for you in the summer, go for a walk in the mall. You can also go for a walk in the mall during the winter to avoid the cold and ice.

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8. Exercise to keep your body strong and flexible

Exercising doesn’t have to be a chore. Choose exercises that you enjoy doing and that help your strength, balance, cardio and flexibility. Do it in a way that will keep you interested, whether it be at home, in a class, a gym or with a personal trainer.

9. Do sports to stay in shape

If doing exercises isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to stay in shape. Plenty of older adults continue doing challenging physical activities well into their 70’s, like mountain biking, skiing and tennis. If you’re looking for a sport that’s less demanding on your joints, try swimming, golf or biking.

10. Go dancing to get social and stay flexible

Dancing is fun, social, physically and mentally demanding. Recent research has shown dancing to be one of the best activities to improve strength, balance and reverse the signs of an aging brain![3] This is especially true if you challenge yourself to learn new dances on a frequent basis.

11. Try tea socials and make new friends

You may not be up to hosting large dinner parties anymore, but why not invite friends over for tea, deserts and good conversation on a regular basis. Maintaining friendships and a strong social network is one of the keys to happiness.[4] Discovering new deserts will also be a delicious treat!

12. Play board games and challenge your brain

Nothing gets the juices flowing like competition. Board games are a great way to challenge your mind while having fun and getting social. The great thing about board games is that you can always find someone to match your level of play.

Think chess, backgammon, checkers, Scrabble, Boggle, Rummikub, Trivial Pursuit.

13. Do gardening and enjoy the process

You can make gardening as challenging or as simple as you’d like. From a full blown perennial, annual or vegetable garden to a few potted plants.

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Selecting, planting, weeding, feeding, harvesting and enjoying the fruits of your labor can bring endless joy. Nothing brings more pride than making a salad from your own garden, adding a few herbs from the window sill or cutting fresh flowers and adding them to your table.

14. Volunteer to contribute to your community

Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean you have to stop contributing. Volunteering can help you develop new relationships, feel connected to community and fee the reward and joy that comes from giving back.

No matter your age, you can help by doing things like reading to young children, being a greeter at a hospital, helping organize fundraisers and more.

15. Have fun with your grandchildren

Nothing will bring you more joy and keep you younger than youth itself. Taking care of your grandchildren can truly be a labor of love, not to mention a huge help to your kids.

You can have your grandkids sleepover every Friday or Saturday night, take them out for brunch on Sunday mornings, take them to activities and more. Getting involved in their activities or just showing up will be fun for you and mean the world to them.

16. Play word and number games to entertain yourself

Crossword, sudoku, kenken and jumble are fun games to challenge yourself with. Some research suggests it can sharpen your focus, improve your memory and help you relax but no matter what, if you like it, it will entertain you and keep your mind active.

17. Keep working for what you love

Many people assume that once you reach a certain age you have to retire. There are plenty of examples of people who work well into their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s at a very high level because they love what they do and it keep them fresh, engaged and purposeful.[5]

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If you love what you do, it’s a gift, not a job.

18. Keep pets and share your love and joy

Pets are proven to help seniors feel better and improve their physical health. Nothing makes people feel better than loving and being loved; and pets can do that in spades.

Pets can give seniors a sense of purpose and companionship, as well as force them to be active by taking dogs for walks and open up a whole new social life by interacting with other dog owners.

19. Get involved in social activism and stay passionate

We usually leave it to younger adults to get socially engaged and change the world. The truth is, seniors also have the time to get involved. Moreover, the wisdom and perspective that comes with age can be the perfect partner to the enthusiasm and energy that comes with youth.

Take the time to get engaged politically and socially. Make it a habit to write to your local newspaper, comment on articles, engage with your government representatives, show up to town hall and council meetings. You can make a difference.

Stay active and you’ll always be happy!

Don’t waste any time! Get cracking and start spending time with family and friends. You’ll be happier for it.

To top it off, get active and stay in shape, you’ll feel great and be a lot healthier too!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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