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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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