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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 May 21, 2019

13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away

Creating your productivity ritual — a routine that helps you to maintain a peak level of energy can get you the best out of your days.

Part of creating your productivity routine involves removing activities that drain you (what I call “kryptonites”), and that includes your bad habits.

Like it or not, bad habits are bad for you — mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially in some cases. While some bad habits are harder to quit than others, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to get rid of them. Here are 13 bad habits to quit right away:

1. Stress Eating

I used to be a serious stress eater. I would eat whenever I felt unhappy, stressed, disappointed, anxious, or even… happy! My eating had nothing to do with being hungry, and everything to do with using food to fill my emotional voids.

While eating would comfort me, this feeling was momentary and would disappear right after I was done eating. Instead, what I had left would be the same emotional void that triggered me to eat in the first place (be it unhappiness or stress), a 2,000 excess calorie intake over what I should have eaten for the day, and anger at myself for having stress ate.

I’ve since overcome stress eating. I have healthy eating habits and a healthy relationship with food today where I no longer use food as a tool to fill my emotions.

If you are a stress eater, don’t fret — here’s how to manage your stress better:

How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success)

2. Nail Biting

Not only is nail biting unhygienic, it is also socially repelling, leads to dental problems like malocclusion of the anterior teeth,[1] potentially cause stomach problems,[2] and lead to severely deformed fingernails in the long run.

People who bite their nails tend to have shorter nails than the average person; their nail plates also experience scarring and may eventually become absent.[3]

Understand what triggers your nail biting behavior and replace it with another neutral to positive habit. Make habits to break habits.

For example, if you bite your nails when you are stressed, go for a walk or listen to music instead the next time you feel stressed.

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3. Hanging out with Naysayers

We all know these people — people who play devil’s advocate to every idea you have and every goal you want to pursue. We are already our greatest self-critics, so it doesn’t help when there’s someone beside us, ever ready to pounce on what we say and tear it down.

Hang out less with these naysayers and spend more time with supportive people who share constructive feedback instead. You will be much happier this way.

Learn how to get rid of naysayers with these 10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Achieve Your Dreams.

4. Being with People Who Don’t Appreciate You

Haven’t all of us been in this situation before? Trying to please people who don’t appreciate us? Bending over backwards to be there for people when they are never there for us?

While we give without expectations of return, we need to draw a line with people who don’t value us because these people damage our souls.

Stop spending time with people who don’t appreciate you, and spend more time with people who do instead.

Unsure who you should get rid of? Learn about it here: 5 Kinds of Toxic People That You Need to Get Rid of Now

5. Smoking

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death globally.[4]

In just the United States alone, about 500,000 deaths are attributed to smoking-related diseases annually. A recent study estimated that as much as one-third of China’s male population will have significantly shortened life-spans due to smoking! Gender-wise, male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life respectively — that’s over a decade of life right there.[5]

Not only that, smoking causes pre-mature skin aging (i.e. wrinkles), yellowing of teeth, bad breath, and worse of all — jeopardy of the health of people around you, including your loved ones. Studies have shown that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk to many of the health problems associated with direct smoking.[6]

Smoking risks

    6. Excessive Drinking

    All of us know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you know how bad it really is?

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    According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking too much — be it on a single occasion or over time — can seriously damage your health:[7]

    • Brain problems: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
    • Heart diseases: Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle, Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat, stroke, high blood pressure
    • Liver diseases: Steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis
    • Pancreas problems: Pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
    • Different types of cancer: Mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, breast

    If you drink a lot, perhaps cutting it out right away will be tough. Cut down the number of glasses you drink each time, followed by the number of times you drink a week.

    If need be, seek help from an AA group — you aren’t alone in this. Change starts from today.

    7. Eating Junk Food (Including Diet Soda)

    Junk food — they are everywhere in our society today. From McDonald’s, to KFC, to Burger King, to 24-hour takeouts, junk food such as fries, highly processed burgers and sodas has become a staple in our society today.

    If you think, “Hey, but junk food is tasty!”, think again:

    A study by Paul Johnson and Paul Kenny suggests that junk food consumption alters brain activity in a way similar to addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.[8]

    “After many weeks with unlimited access to junk food, the pleasure centers of rat brains became desensitized, requiring more food for pleasure.”

    And you wonder why you seem to crave fast food when you just had some the day before?

    While it may not be possible to remove junk food completely from our diet right away, we can reduce our junk food consumption starting today. Instead of soda, opt for a fruit juice (fresh juice, not the carbonated kind) or mineral water. Instead of fries, switch to mashed potato, a salad, or rice (many food outlets allow for this today). Instead of a fried meat patty, go for a grilled one.

    Where possible, opt for healthy food joints like salad bars and delis as opposed to fast food outlets. Every little step goes a long way.

    Here’re some healthy snacks ideas for you: 15 Healthy Snacks You Should Always Have At Home

    8. Eating Too Much Red Meat

    There has been conclusive evidence that consumption of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer; and suggestive evidence that it increases the risk of oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and endometrial cancer.

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    In addition, some studies have linked consumption of large quantities of red meat with breast cancer, stomach cancer, lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer![9]

    Personally, I’m a vegetarian so I don’t consume red meat, but for those of you who consume red meat, do watch out and limit your intake — better still, cut it out of your diet. World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting intake of red meat to less than 300g (11 oz) cooked weight per week, “very little, if any of which to be processed.”

    Of if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian, check out this guide: 5 Practical Tips For Starting a Vegetarian Lifestyle

    9. Watching Too Much TV

    I stopped watching TV since eight years ago and I have never regretted it. Every once in a while I will switch on the telly to see what is on, and then I will switch it off because it’s just the same boring shtick over and over again.

    Watching TV, particularly well-written dramas, can be a good way to unwind. However, remember that TV isn’t your life.

    Spending three hours every night watching TV will not change your life for the better. Rather, using that time to reflect on your life, take stock, and take action on your goals will.

    It’s not easy to remove TV from your daily routine right away, but follow these 6 Steps To Remove TV From Your Life.

    10. Being Late

    Not only is being late being rude to others, it also means that you’re always rushing from one place to another, playing catch up in your agenda, and having to apologize to every person you meet.

    Stop being late and not being punctual, but practice being early instead. Target to arrive 15 minutes earlier before any appointment and bring along something to do in those 15 minutes (or longer if the other person turns out to be late). Then you can stop playing catch up and stay ahead in life.

    Learn more tips about how to be more punctual here: How to Be On Time Every Time

    11. Being in Bad Relationships

    Are you always dating the wrong guys/girls? Do you end up with jerks all the time? Well, you may not be able to stop yourself from meeting bad partners but you can certainly stop yourself from furthering contact with them, spending time with them, or even… entering into a relationship with them.

    I used to invest myself in this guy who was nothing but toxic for me. After a good five months of experiencing nothing but getting burned over and over again, I realized that he was a total waste of my time and I deserved better. I decided to cut him off, and it was soon after that I met my soulmate.

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    Learn about why you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship and how to deal with it if you’re in one: Why Trying Hard to Stay in an Unhappy Relationship Is Not Love, but Fear

    12. Leaving Things to the Last Minute

    Burning the midnight oil isn’t fun — it’s exhausting.

    Those of you who got through college by burning the midnight oil would have learned this the hard way. Not only is it damaging for your body, it is also mentally draining as you’re constantly in a hyper-tense mode, feeling anxious about whether you can finish your work on time.

    Start today on a new note. Rather than react to your deadlines, be proactive about them by planning ahead, identifying what needs to be done for the week, and getting things done in advance.

    By staying ahead of your tasks, you can also use your extra time to plan ahead in your life and get more things done.

    Take a look at this guide and learn how to stop procrastinating: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    13. Focusing on the Negatives

    In every situation, there are two ways you can react: zoom down to the problem areas and crib about how things aren’t the way you want, or celebrate the areas that are going well and work on making everything better.

    Many of us see the importance of doing the latter but in practice, we do the former. Why though? Criticizing and focusing on the negatives is easy but it doesn’t empower nor inspire us to be better.

    Make a change — for every negative encounter you run into, I challenge you to identify three things that are good about it. Practice doing this for one week, and by the end of the week you’ll find that your first instinct is to think positive, not negative.

    And here’re even more ways to help you stay positive: 11 Tips for Maintaining your Positive Attitude

    The Bottom Line

    So here you find the 13 most common bad habits and their consequences on your mind and body. The good news’ you can quit them all.

    Just spot out your own bad habits and take my suggestions to quit them. Then you’ll find your life a lot healthier and happier!

    Need more tips to break your bad habits? Check out these articles:

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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