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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

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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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