Just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean you have to act your age. But we all know that staying active can grow more difficult as the years go by. It can be tough to stay engaged and part of the community when family members and friends have moved away or passed on. With aging sometimes comes the difficult decision to give up our driver’s licenses, which may trigger inactivity. And, of course, age-related physical and even cognitive limitations can lower levels of activity while raising levels of boredom. However, it is imperative to remain as active as you can.
Problems with Inactivity
According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses – including depression.
Benefits of Activity
Physical activity is the key to a healthier, and more fulfilling, life for seniors. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health cites the following advantages of being physically active:
- Helps reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones.
- Reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.
- Can help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension.
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and fosters improvements in mood and feelings of well-being.
- Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
- Helps control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis.
Ways to Fight Inactivity and Boredom
Think seniors are destined to only take long naps or spend hours seated in rocking chairs? Boy, are you wrong. There are plenty of ways to keep the mind, body and spirit engaged:
- Hobbies – Sure, you may have to give up bowling, skydiving or zip lining as you age. But what’s to stop you from becoming an avid gardener, fisherman or writer?
- Travel – Seniors are literally traveling near and far. Their itineraries range from trips to see friends and relatives close to home, to exotic, adventurous journeys in the United States and abroad. When it comes to the latter, seniors are taking advantage of companies such as ElderTreks, which cater to mature travelers who want to visit the likes of Africa, China and the North Pole.
- Online college courses – Become a part of the digital world by taking courses in the comfort of your home. Aside from challenging your mind, you’re likely to save money while doing it, since colleges may offer discounts to seniors.
- Mentoring – Connect with schools so you can share your talents and experiences with students of all ages, K12 through college. You can even mentor young professionals at your previous or current place of employment.
- Consulting – You don’t need to stop working when you reach senior status. Hang out your shingle and turn your professional expertise into a second career and source of income.
Take our advice: Don’t be so quick to act your age! For more information on ways to stay active in retirement, download 5 Ways to Stay Active in Retirement.