Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is vitally important for anyone, at any age. Healthy bodies and healthy minds don't 'just happen' – they are a result of efforts that are taken to ensure one's overall fitness and well-being are optimized. And it is true that as one ages, the body and the mind can begin to deteriorate; but keeping an active lifestyle can help to ward off or minimize everything from depression to listlessness to forgetfulness to diseases.
Here are a few, simple ways an active lifestyle can contribute to maximized health – from head-to-toe, from inside and out.
No one has to tell you how important exercise is for your body and mind. Even if one is not willing or able to venture outside on a regular basis, one can keep physically active in the comfort of one's home. Take, for example, Go4Life. This an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging which offers exercises, free videos, and print materials. Simply click onto: www.nia.nih.gov/Go4Life
. The site
offers motivational tips; it helps one generate an exercise regime; it provides step-by-step instructions on each type of exercise; it offers an interactive 'My Starting Point' tool to figure out one's current activity level. The site, also, provides a messaging tool to connect with, and encourage, senior friends and family members to get in on the action, as well!
Connect with Like-Minded Adults
Immersing your self in the company of individuals who share your interests can do wonders to stimulate the brain in ways that enhance not only mental health, but physical health. Whether you have old friendships or wish to create new ones, a plethora of activities are waiting that beckon you to join others to 'come have some fun!' Playing cards and board games – visiting local or distant points of interest such as museums, festivals, theaters, or sporting events – regular outings at restaurants, boutiques, and hair salons – volunteering at a school, library, animal shelter, or hospital – the list goes on when it comes to activities that can generate feelings of anticipation, fulfillment, acceptance, and comradery.
Join a Group
In every community, one will find a variety of clubs, leagues, classes, or organizations that cater to senior activities – baking/cooking, woodworking, calligraphy, gardening, crafts, bible-studies, dance, bowling, biking and so much more offer seniors opportunities to 'get their groove on' in fun, creative, interactive ways. But joining a group isn't just about having fun; it's about enhancing the richness of one's life. Matthew Lieberman is a distinguished social psychologist and neuro-scientist, and in his book, Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect, he speaks of the human brain possessing an innate social nature and the critical importance of how interacting with others generates a positive, uplifting mind-set which leads to a more-flourishing life.
Learn Something New
Our brains crave being stimulated by new and exciting information. But did you know that learning a new skill can help your mind grow stronger? When it comes to the physiology of the brain, practicing a new skill increases the density of the brain's white matter. This translates into helping one to think more clearly and analytically, among a host of other things. Learning a new skill, also, stimulates the brain's neurons. Stimulated neurons, says the Mayo Clinic, can help stave off dementia as well as contribute to other health benefits.
Learning a new skill recharges the mind; and participating in new endeavors such as scuba diving, golf, salsa/ballroom/line-dancing, sailing, photography, learning a foreign language, taking a college-level course, or writing blogs for the internet represent only a sampling of new experiences one can immerse oneself in. It's all about keeping mentally active which has everything to do with boosting brain power; but one must be willing to leave one's comfort zone and embrace the idea of challenge one's mind.
After It's All Said and Done
Maintaining an active lifestyle means optimizing one's cognitive functioning, physical strength, and social interactions. Enjoyable pursuits are what make us feel truly alive, engaged and connected – the world becomes more vibrant and inviting. Stay active and healthy and enjoy being a senior; it can be one of the best times of your life!