Keep It Movin’ – Ideas for Staying Active
Spring has a funny way of lighting a fire under us. Maybe it’s the fresh air, the warmer weather, or simply being inspired by the way everything comes alive again after winter’s bitter cold. This year especially, after so much isolating during the pandemic, you might be eager to start something new. That’s great news (and for a lot of reasons)! In this post we’ll share a whole host of reasons to SPRING into a more active lifestyle!
If you’re worried about getting back to “normal” while also staying healthy, you’re not alone! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a wealth of information on their website to help you resume your favorite activities. In most areas, going for a walk or jog outdoors is totally fine as long as you practice social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) as well as good hygiene (wash hands frequently, avoid touching your face, cover your nose and mouth if you cough or sneeze).
The CDC also recommends avoiding physical contact with people who aren’t in your household as well as staying away from crowded areas and group gatherings, especially if you aren’t feeling well. Lastly, it’s a good idea to check in with your local health department to see if your area has any unique circumstances.
Now that you feel safer about being active again, how do you decide what to do?
TRY NEW THINGS
There are lots of ways to stay active that aren’t necessarily a strict exercise regime. If you think about activities that you enjoy that stimulate your body and mind at the same time, you might be amazed at the ideas you come up with. One suggestion is to keep trying new things. Seniors tend to be at a unique advantage when it comes to trying new things—combining wisdom with freedom can take you to some pretty interesting places.
In fact, The Association for Psychological Science says that learning new skills keeps an aging mind sharp. So, whether your new adventure is picking up a hobby, learning a new language, volunteering your time with a community organization, traveling or being outdoors, do yourself (and your cognitive function) a favor and JUST SAY YES!
FOCUS ON HEALTH
Staying healthy as you age is critical to maintaining a good quality of life. In our previous post about the benefits of walking, we took an in-depth look at many of the physical and cognitive benefits of exercise. While exercise is important, there’s sort of a semantic difference between exercise and activity.
Think of it this way—you can lead a very active lifestyle, move around a lot, do chores, have hobbies, spend time out and about with friends—and not actually feel like you’re exercising. You’re still doing things that are good for your body and your mind, but it somehow feels different than a big, purposeful workout. Both are helpful in staying healthy!
By maintaining an active lifestyle, you reap tons of benefits. Moving your body during everyday life can help you improve balance, build muscle, increase endurance, maintain flexibility and help with range of motion. All these elements help reduce the risk of falls, help you sleep better, and make things like reaching up high or down low a lot easier.
There’s also a huge connection between activity and mood. Staying active can help release endorphins in your brain. Endorphins make you feel good! If your active lifestyle involves other people, you’re soaking up all warm & fuzzy benefits of social engagement and connectedness. If you’re active outside, you’re getting vitamin D. The benefits build and are seemingly endless!
Taking time to stay active makes it possible to do all kinds of small things with ease—for example, if you already take a walk with a friend every morning, you’ll be less likely to cringe at the thought of a long walk from the parking lot to your seat at a major league baseball game.
MAKE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS
We already touched on how staying active with others help with feelings of social engagement and connectedness, but why is that so important? Humans are social animals, and there’s just no getting around the fact that we’re hardwired to seek out a sense of belonging. No matter your age or stage of life, it’s important to make friends and bond with loved ones…maybe via shared interests. So, whether it’s walking on a trail with older grandkids, pushing a toddler on a swing, fishing with retired work buddies, or bending down to plant a row of tulips at your daughter’s first house…try to find a way to combine connection and activity.
THE BENEFIT OF A COMMUNITY
At Melrose Meadows, we love our active seniors. Not all communities are as passionate about helping residents maintain active lifestyles. Our recreation team always has something fun lined up.
The Activities Calendar is chock-full of things to keep your brain and body busy. Whether you’re trying to add to your existing activities or just starting out, Melrose Meadows offers options for every level of mobility and stamina. From Chair Yoga and Walking Club to focused work on Balance and Stretching, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Like music and rhythm? Check out Drumming for Fitness or Music & Movement! Whatever you choose, know that you’re choosing to take an active role in your quality of life and overall health.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay active? Tell us your ideas in the comments!