We may not be as agile as we’d like to be. Medical and physical issues may prevent us from activities we did with ease only a few short years ago. At the same time, research clearly reveals the importance of staying physically and mentally active in your senior years. There are plenty of activities that are enjoyable, healthful, and safe for seniors of all ability levels.
Stretching – Keeping the body’s muscles in good shape is important. Muscle flexibility is one of those areas where the old adage, use it or lose it, comes into play. When you don’t stretch your muscles, they tend to tighten up and shorten, decreasing your flexibility.
Stretching exercises help nourish your muscles by increasing the blood flow. Cartilage and muscles benefit from the nutrients supplied by the increase. Stretching also helps muscles relax. It is surprising how tense one can become without even realizing it. Stress in the body affects you mentally and physically. Stretching relieves the tension and as the muscles ease and relax, so does the mind. A full body stretch upon waking will get your body revved up and start the endorphins flowing, improving your outlook first thing. Additionally, stretching gently before bed aids in a pleasant sleep experience.
Yoga – A more mindful form of stretching exercises can be found with yoga. This practice has been used for decades as an exercise to help improve flexibility. It’s been around for millennia as a practice of mindfulness. While the term may conjure up images of people twisted into pretzel shapes, there are much easier and gentler poses. Classic yoga has positions that may seem unattainable for the average senior; however there are modifications for those with limited abilities. Some positions use a chair or table to help with stability. One of the main benefits of yoga is increased flexibility and increased range of motion. This activity also helps with physical balance as well as mental calm and clarity.
Meditation – So much is going on in the world today, it’s not surprising that people are getting stressed out and are unaware of the exact source. Tension seems to be floating in the air. Issues at home between family members, in the community and the world at large can cause stress to build up. This can lead to muscle tension as well as mental fatigue. An activity that has long been used to quiet the mind and ease stress is meditation. When done correctly meditation can lower blood pressure which is a definite health benefit. The deep breathing causes blood to be enriched with oxygen and improves circulation. All of the body’s organs benefit, including the digestive tract and the brain.
Gardening – There is something special about working the soil and growing things in your own backyard. A special treat awaits those who are able to get outdoors and work in a garden. If a traditional garden is not feasible, there are plenty of modifications. Many people now have raised garden beds so bending over is no longer an issue. There are also gardening roller seats available to make working in a traditional garden easier. Another option is container gardening. This method of gardening is perfect for small spaces and for patios or balconies.
Not everyone has access to outdoor gardening though. For those who still want to grow plants, indoor gardening has taken on a new life. Indoor gardening can be as simple as a few plants to grow herbs in a kitchen garden to the elaborate designs of a living wall. If there isn’t enough light coming in from the windows, you can always use artificial lighting.
Creativity – Being creative can take on a wide variety of forms. Many seniors enjoy exploring artistic and creative talents they never knew they possessed. Writing poetry or stories has become popular among seniors. Painting in its various forms is also popular. Some people like the translucency of watercolor, while others prefer the pliability of oils. Still others enjoy working with acrylics. Writing and art are only two out of a wide field of creative outlets. Some communities offer acting opportunities for seniors and musical endeavors are always available. The creative experience is also a way to ease tension and relax. Pick up some markers or colored pencils and settle in with one of the new adult coloring books that are popular. Soon you will find your mind drifting off to more pleasant realms.
Music – Although music could be under creativity, it also stands alone as an activity. Listening to music as well as creating it has many health benefits. In fact, music has been shown to have a strong positive affect on people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. You can get into the beat of the music, hum along, dance, or just enjoy the experience of listening.
It only takes a little imagination to find activities that are enjoyable and interesting for seniors. Whether looking for activities for a loved one or for yourself, Bridge to Better Living® is here to help you find interesting and entertaining activities.