June 9, 2020
Most people look forward to the extra time and relaxation that comes with retirement - the time to explore the world, spend with grandchildren, and pursue the hobbies and passions they enjoy.
However, let’s not forget that staying healthy throughout retirement is a crucial component of living out that vibrant, fulfilling lifestyle you envision. Perhaps now during the COVID-19 pandemic more than ever, a renewed focus on our health is an important perspective.
Older adults who prioritize their mental, physical, and spiritual health stay well!
As you continue to keep yourself healthy and safe during the pandemic by exercising necessary precautions, here are a few additional ways to remain active and stay healthy long into your golden years.
- Get a good night’s sleep
Although it may seem strange to start a list of ways to stay active in retirement with getting more rest, healthy sleep for those of older age is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it is critical to healthy cognitive function, physical health, and emotional wellbeing.
- Volunteer your time to a worthy cause
Retirement means that you’re no longer making daily contributions at a career, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop contributing to the community. Volunteering is a way for older adults to give back to their communities while also benefiting from social interaction, physical activity, and emotional wellness, which in turn support overall health and wellbeing.
Are there causes you always wanted to support but never had the time? Many organizations have “remote” or virtual ways to help, as well, if you’re handy on a computer or with another skill. Look to your local community bulletin boards, libraries, museums, animal shelters, charities, and more. Find something that interests you and build it into your schedule. The benefits will extend beyond just giving back. You will enjoy meeting new people, learning new skills, and staying active during your retirement years.
- Join a senior fitness group
You might be surprised to learn that there are local groups and clubs dedicated to promoting physical activity among older adults. Senior fitness groups meet regularly to participate in group exercise classes, take daily walks, or swim laps at a local recreation center, and many currently offer “virtual” group fitness sessions via Zoom or similar video call systems. Of course, you can also engage in these activities on your own, but senior fitness groups offer the added benefit of built-in socialization with your peers.
- Find creative ways to exercise
If a senior fitness group isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to stay in shape as you age. From bowling to golfing, photography, playing with your grandchildren, shopping, and even using a video game system like the Nintendo Wii, you can get active by doing a great many different types of things. If you’re struggling with the idea of exercise and the thought of participating in group fitness makes you want to hide under the covers, try a few alternative activities to find out which types of activities motivate you.
- Connect with friends
No matter someone’s age, connecting with others is an important element to overall health. This is especially true in retirement, since many people’s social interactions are primarily through their job. Staying connected with others is critical in maintaining health and happiness. As we’re practicing social distancing, write a card, make a phone or video call, or schedule a virtual game night with friends. When possible, plan outings with your friends. If your social circle is small, consider joining social groups to find new friends and new connections.
Connecting with friends is double the fun when you're also enhancing physical wellness!
- Join your local senior center
You’ll find a senior center in just about any community or neighborhood. These organizations offer activities and other services for older adults, ranging from assistance navigating health care and senior care services to weekly bingo games, dances for older adults, ice cream socials, and other activities.
If you’re feeling isolated and out of touch, joining a local senior center can be just what you need to meet new people and start engaging with the outside world again. If senior center membership doesn’t interest you, check with your local senior living community to learn what similar types of activities they offer that are open to friends in the community.
- Do brain exercises
Staying active in retirement is as important for your brain as it is for your body. The brain needs regular exercise too. Activities and apps, such as Sudoku and word puzzles, are great. Also consider keeping your mind active through continued education. Auditing classes at local colleges or universities is a great way to stretch your brain power and stay mentally fit during retirement.
- Learn a new skill
There’s never a downside to learning something new, and in fact, developing new skills is a great way to keep our minds healthy. Have you always wanted to learn a second language but didn’t have the time before retirement? Duolingo is a free online resource and app that can help you get started. Want to learn more about computers? Try making a website. Did you abandon piano lessons as a child but still have dreams of becoming a musician? Find a local teacher who caters to older learners. It really doesn’t matter what new skill you choose. Getting your proverbial wheels turning will strengthen your brain and give you a sense of achievement.
- Find purpose
Older adults in retirement can sometimes feel as though they have too much time on their hands, often leading to a sense that they have lost purpose in life. Without a sense of purpose, it can be hard for older adults to get up and get going each day.
Purposeful activities can be anything we have listed here and more, from volunteering to educating yourself to spending time supporting your friends. Whatever feels fulfilling to you, research has shown that having purpose in life can lead to a longer life.
Feeling inspired? Go out there and find your next endeavor that will help you stay mentally and physically active in retirement!