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In the whirlwind years of maintaining a career while raising a family and all of the stress and fatigue associated with those years, the dream of retirement (lying on a beach, sipping tropical beverages or actually finishing a book) seemed light years away.
But the years have flown by and the reality is that a sedentary body and mind leads to atrophy of the brain and muscles. There are benefits to staying active in retirement and here are some of them:
You finally have the time to do all of those things you’ve been meaning to do at the pace you want to do them. It’s time to make the most of it. So many activities are out there for you to enjoy at your own pace and convenience.
Just remember moderation is the key. It’s a good idea to pair a mind activity with a physical activity every day to avoid overdoing it.
These activities include anything that has an end result of something you’ve created with love and pride. It could be sewing, cross-stitching, painting or drawing, and even learning a dance or how to play a musical instrument. The possibilities are endless. You are using your imagination while instilling a sense of self-worth and pride. Additionally, your craft may give you the boost you need to join a club of like-minded individuals which can result in new friendships and the chance to get out and socialize! There are even craft shows and markets to consider, where you could possibly sell your wares and pick up a few extra dollars.
Mind Enhancing Activities
This category includes puzzles and games. Crosswords, jigsaws, sudoku, solitaire and mahjong are some suggestions if you are on your own, but why not team up with others in a senior community to play cards or board games? According to the experts, as your mind ages, it begins to decline and those dreaded diseases like CRS (Can’t Remember Stuff) creep in. It is as important to exercise your brain as it is to exercise your body. Are you tech-savvy already? If not, learning how to enjoy your puzzles and games on a computer can open up a whole new world for you!
Do you enjoy gardening or yard work? This is not only a great way to exercise your body, but also to get some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. Gardening can also meld into the category of Creative Activities! Planting a cutting or a seed and watching it bloom and grow to maturity is very satisfying. Other physical activities might include going for a walk or hike, yoga, tai-chi, swimming and dancing. All of these are tricking your body into exercising without the pain of going to the gym or performing boring and repetitive routines. It’s a win/win if you are maintaining your health while doing something you enjoy!
Remember those early years when you yearned for the time to read (and actually finish) a book? Now you have the time! Reading stimulates the brain and transports you to places you wish you could visit. When you enjoy the story, you feel as if you are making friends with the characters and cheering them on in their adventures. But it also has the added benefit of reducing stress, improving sleep and expanding your vocabulary. It is relatively inexpensive and requires very little effort. It’s also a great way to relax after performing one or more of your physical activities.
Whether it’s a trip to a nearby attraction or a lengthier vacation, travel is a wonderful stimulant that exercises your mind and body. Becoming immersed in the history and geography of places you’ve read about, or even visiting a nearby museum or attraction has the same benefits as the above activities with a side of adventure you remember from your childhood. It’s also a great way to meet new people and possibly forge long-lasting friendships.
SOME FURTHER BENEFITS
· Alleviate loneliness & depression – many seniors spend a good part of their day alone. By finding like-minded people to engage with, you will beat the loneliness and depression it can cause.
· Promote laughter – I’m sure you will agree that there is nothing better than a good belly laugh. Laughing releases happy endorphins and generally causes a feeling of well-being.
· Competition – Whether it is a card game or a race, friendly competition builds empathy, trust and that wonderful feeling of just having fun.
· Minimize perceived pain and expand optimism – When you are doing something you enjoy, the time seems to fly and the pains you experience when sitting alone in your home just seem to disappear.
Yes, you’ve earned the rest and relaxation that your retirement years are supposed to bring. But, don’t confine yourself to your rocking chair yet! Improve your physical and mental health and live a longer, happier and healthier life by staying active and having fun.