The following article is a guest post submitted by Karen Weeks - www.elderwellness.net
Staying active physically, socially, and mentally is the most important thing you can do to preserve your health while aging. Seniors who avoid isolation and inactivity enjoy better physical and mental health and a higher quality of life than their less active peers. If you've been inactive in the past, changing your habits now might feel more like a chore than fun. However, there are ways you can incorporate healthy activity into your lifestyle and enjoy doing it. If you're ready to make a change but aren't sure where to start, try these suggestions for a healthier lifestyle.
Take a College Class
Getting older doesn't mean you have to stop learning. Taking a college course is an excellent way to challenge your mind and learn about something you've always been interested in. Many colleges even offer discounts for lifelong learners. Can't afford to enroll in a college class? You can find lots of opportunities to take college-level courses online for free. Money Pantry lists the best websites for finding free online courses, regardless of your interests.
Work on Your Balance
A strong, stable body is what keeps you from falling when you're elderly, but if you don't work to maintain it, your strength and balance will dwindle with time. Make balance training a regular part of your exercise regimen. Don't have an exercise regimen? Now is the time to start one. Seniors need regular exercise just as much as younger adults. If it's been a while or you have a health condition, clear it with your doctor before starting to exercise.
Get a Dog (or Borrow One!)
Owning a pet is good for you. According to Aging Care, “animals can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction and physical activity.” On the days you don't want to get off your couch, you can count on a dog to goad you into exercising!
A dog is a big commitment, both in money and time. If your lifestyle isn't suited to pet ownership, consider walking other people's dogs. Whether you take out your neighbor's dog as a favor or start your own dog-walking business, you'll enjoy some great low-impact exercise, boost your mood with time outdoors, and maybe even meet new friends!
Join a Book Club
If you already enjoy reading, join a book club. Book clubs add a social component to this typically solitary activity. Rather than joining a generic book club, find one that has a specific focus. Whether that's sci-fi, history, romance, or a topical book club, you'll have a greater chance of meeting people with common interests.
Learn to Meditate
Stronger cognition, a calmer demeanor, and improved emotional control are just a few of the benefits meditation offers to older adults. When you're dealing with changing health and the passing of loved ones, those are good tools to have on your side. Meditation can be intimidating for beginners, but it's actually quite simple. Read Gaiam's instructions to get started.
Address Your Aches and Pains
Occasional aches are common and nothing to worry about. However, if you're dealing with chronic pain or an old injury is flaring up, you might need physical therapy to address the underlying cause. Going to the doctor might not sound like much fun, but new developments in physical therapy are making the process more effective and enjoyable for patients. Take MIRA for example. This system uses motion tracking and interactive games to make physical therapy engaging and fun. As a result, you’re motivated to follow through with the exercises.
It's never too late to change your health for the better. Whether you're just entering your senior years or you have a couple decades under the belt, you can adopt new habits and activities to improve your personal wellness.