Keeping active as you get older can be a challenge, especially if you find it harder to continue doing the activities you have enjoyed throughout your life. It is still important to find pass-times you can enjoy however, as they can be crucial to maintaining your physical and mental well-being. There are stimulating activities suitable for everyone regardless of age or physical ability. These are 10 of our suggestions.
Swimming is one of the best physical activities for older people. A fun and easy form of exercise, swimming is particularly suited to those might find other forms of aerobic exercise difficult or painful. It places no pressure on the joints whilst providing the same cardiovascular benefits of higher impact activities such as jogging. One of the biggest benefits of swimming is the balance improvement it can provide. An Australian study found that people over 70 who swam regularly were 33% less likely to suffer from a fall. This effect was far more pronounced than with other physical activities. Swimming has also been shown to help lower the risk of osteoarthritis and help the elderly to maintain muscle mass. It is also great as a form of relaxation and stress relief.
2. Tai Chi or Yoga
Tai Chi is another great low impact exercise for older people. It can be performed anywhere and requires no equipment. This Chinese martial art is great for relaxation whilst improving flexibility and balance. Those who regularly perform Tai Chi are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure or loss of physical strength. It has also been shown to lower the chance of falls. Tai Chi can be performed indoors or outside and can be a great way to enjoy your garden. If you would like to learn more www.taichiunion.com is a great resource.
Alternatively, Yoga is a great activity that can be performed either as part of a class or alone in the homes. Yoga has been shown to reduce swelling in joint and help increase mobility and strength. Proponents often point to an increased sense of well being and an improvement in sleep quality. There are also yoga variants designed for those who find movement more difficult, many of which can be practised from the comfort of a chair.
Nordic Walking is a popular moderate intensity aerobic exercise which involves the use of walking poles and a specialised technique. It is a whole-body exercise which uses over 90% of your muscles. Many people who would find longer walks difficult due to strain on their legs, find Nordic Walking allows them to walk further and faster than they would expect. As well as helping maintain aerobic fitness, it also helps improve balance which in turn helps prevent falls. It is a very social activity with regular walking groups existing all over the UK. To find a group, or just some more information, check out www.britishnordicwalking.org.uk
Finding stimulating mental activities can be just as important for older people as physical exercise is. There are classes available on almost any subject that might interest you, including ones specifically focused on the retired. Learning for its own sake can be very rewarding and retirement can offer the opportunity to learn about a subject area you have always been interested in but too busy to pursue. Languages are a particularly interesting area of study, as learning a new one has been shown to help prevent dementia. There are many resources out there for those looking to learn. The UK has a fantastic organisation called the University of the Third Age, devoted to bringing older people together to learn about a variety of subjects. They have over 1,000 groups across the country. More information can be found at www.u3a.org.uk
5. Learn an Instrument
Learning a musical instrument can be very time consuming. If you have ever wanted to learn to play music but been unable to fit it in to a busy life, retirement offers a great opportunity to do so. Whilst it can seem daunting, there are tangible benefits to making the effort. Playing an instrument is a great way to stay mentally and physically active and to challenge yourself in the protest. Making music has been shown to have a positive effect on mood and with some instruments helps promote flexibility and strength in the hands.
Playing various different kinds of games can provide fantastic physical, mental and social stimulation. If you are looking for a way to challenge yourself whilst having fun at the same time. Traditional card games and board games can be a great way to meet people locally, with groups meeting to play games like chess or bridge all over the country. Board games have a relatively dry reputation, but the industry has been undergoing something of a renaissance, with huge numbers of new and innovative games available. Many cities now have specialised shops or cafes where games are available. There has also been a rise in the so called “silver gamer”, with video games aimed specifically at older adults, often designed to help promote retention of cognitive ability.
Quilting, and other craft activities, are great creative outlets that offer an opportunity to learn and master a skill. Quilting is increasingly popular and can be a social activity, with local groups all over the country and a thriving online community. It can also have a therapeutic effect, as research has indicated that creative activities can help people with chronic illnesses manage the mental health impact of their conditions. If you would like to find out more about quilting visit www.quiltersguild.org.uk.
As obvious as it sounds, reading for pleasure remains an enjoyable pass-time that helps keep the mind active. It can become more challenging to enjoy books as you get older, due to issues such as deteriorating eye sight or difficulty handling books. Fortunately, technology has several solutions to help those have these problems. E-Readers can be a great replacement for traditional books. They are light-weight, do not require any dexterity to turn the page and allow you to increase the size of the print to suit your own vision. Alternatively, audiobooks have become increasingly popular in recent years, with most titles now available in this form soon after their print release.
There are many charitable organisations all across the UK who are always looking for volunteers to help them carry out their good works. Contributing your time can be incredibly rewarding and is good way to get out of the house and meet new people. You can select a cause you feel passionate about and offer an amount of time that works for you. Whilst volunteering in high street charity shops is the most visible way of helping out, many organisations have multiple different ways you can contribute and offer your skills and experience.
Whether or not you have ever been involved in performance, theatre can be a great way to remain active and socialise. In recent years there has been a growth in elder troupes and senior theatre in general, although many people choose to work with traditional theatre groups. Groups that are focussed on older adults often forgo memorised scripts, instead using improvisation and innovation to best harness the experience and personality of the performers. If performing is not for you, but you still want to be involved in theatre, there are plenty of other ways you can help stage productions or provide support, just get in contact with your local group to see how you can help.
Remaining physically and mentally active as you get older is very important.
Sedentary lifestyles have a greater negative impact on physical and cognitive ability than biological ageing. Being active helps you stay independent and reduces your risk of falls and other accidents. Fear of falls is one of the leading causes of falling and can make some activities seem risky. If you find yourself put off from performing an activity for this reason, you should consider contacting Helpline to discuss the range of pendent alarms available to provide you peace of mind in the home.
If you are more active the E-Flare is a great option to help protect yourself when you are out and about.
To find out more about these and other aids to independent living read more on Elderly Care & Safety Advice - Helpline Blog