Think about it. Retirement is a phase with open space, where you can live life on your terms (or at least try your darndest). Why not get a head start on your fitness goals and improve your health in retirement?
It’s never too late to strengthen your health, so you can enjoy more of your passions and post-career purpose.
The best time to start living a healthier lifestyle is right now. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or time-consuming.
And it’s no wonder given that in the first six years after complete retirement, retirees, on average, experience between a:
- 5-16% increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities,
- 5-6 % increase in illness conditions,
- and 6-9% decline in mental health.
To rise above these averages, we’ve compiled a list of 22 activities for seniors that will keep your brain, body, and spirit young.
#1 Practice Gratitude
Retirement is fantastic, but it can be hard to adjust. You’re no longer working, and that means you are now free to do whatever you want with your time.
But before you go out there and spoil yourself rotten, take a few minutes every day to acknowledge the things in life that have made your retirement possible.
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the minor annoyances of retirement when we should really focus on what we have accomplished.
So start practicing gratitude today by taking stock of all the good things about being retired. Maybe even write them down in the form of a gratitude journal or share them with someone close who will appreciate hearing how much they mean to you.
You’ve been working hard your whole life, and now it’s time to appreciate the fruits of those labors.
#2 Practice Mindfulness
It’s a common misconception that mindfulness and meditation are one and the same, but they’re just two sides of the same coin. Meditation is practiced for a specific amount of time, whereas mindfulness can be practiced throughout your day.
Mindfulness is a practice of being present in the moment and experiencing life as it unfolds. It’s about paying attention to what you are doing, feeling, thinking, or saying without judgment.
Practicing mindfulness has been shown to improve physical health, emotional well-being, cognitive function and interpersonal relationships. And these are just some of the benefits of practicing mindfulness. Here are a couple of ways to get started:
- Set aside time for yourself throughout the day where you’ll be away from distractions of technology or other people
- Choose an activity that will bring your body into motion, such as walking outside or light stretching
- Slow down while eating your meal by chewing more than usual and taking smaller bites
- Practice deep breathing when feeling stressed out or overwhelmed
Challenge yourself to be more mindful of yourself and your surroundings and fully experience the present moment.
Most people associate meditation with spirituality — impossible lotus-style poses, trying to clear your mind, and burning incense. Meditation is so much more (and less).
Its beauty lies not only in its simplicity but also accessibility. The benefits touch people of all ages wherever they can find time to just relax.
Meditation is beneficial for both the body and the mind. Here are just a few of the big benefits:
- Calms anxiety
- Reduces stress
- Promotes sleep quality
- Helps with emotional well-being in the face of aging challenges
- It may even help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Like with anything you haven’t tried before, it may take time for your body, thoughts, and emotions to get accustomed — just keep practicing. The more you do it, the better you’ll become and the more you’ll enjoy it.
#4 Connect with Nature
It’s no wonder we feel most at peace when surrounded by nature. It has been proven to soothe the soul, lift our spirits and energize us.
Research has shown that people who live near green spaces are more likely to be mentally healthier than those who don’t since it helps us deal with stress and anxiety.
Now that you’re not bound by a job or raising a family, you can enjoy the great outdoors. Whether it’s skiing in the winter, going camping during summertime or even just going for a picnic — use your spare time to reconnect with nature.
#5 Declutter your House
Do you feel like your house is a mess and you don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. It’s hard to let go of the things that remind us of who we used to be and what we accomplished. Still, as we age, it becomes increasingly harder to actually commit to tidying up.
My personal favorite is the KonMari method. If you haven’t seen the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the basic idea is that you start by imagining your ideal lifestyle, which helps you realize you don’t really need all of the stuff you’ve stored over the years.
It is a common misconception that you should tackle one room at a time. But this will lead to an endless cycle of clutter — when in reality, tidying by category streamlines the house decluttering process.
Take every object and try to determine whether it truly makes you happy and still serves its purpose. Finally, let go of items that don’t spark joy. And voilà — your house (and your mind) are clutter-free.
#6 Become a Healthy Gym Rat
Going to the gym can be intimidating, but it’s a great way to get in shape and maintain your health at any age.
And if you need some motivation in this area, here are five reasons why becoming a gym rat is just what the doctor ordered for retirement:
- improves the overall quality of life
- suitable for the mind and body
- prevents and keeps conditions under control
- improves functional capacity and independence
The key is finding a routine that works for you. What do you enjoy doing when it comes to working out? If it helps, try breaking up workouts into smaller chunks so they don’t feel too overwhelming and focus on what feels good.
#7 Listen to Music Daily
Have you ever heard of the saying, “music is food for the soul?” It turns out that there might be some truth to this old adage.
Music therapy has many benefits for older adults that help with moods, chronic pain, anxiety, depression and so much more.
To improve your health, consider adding some musical elements into your daily routine, like taking short walks while listening to your favorite tunes on headphones or singing along in the shower.
#8 Go Kayaking
You don’t have to hang up your paddle when you retire — with the right gear, it’s easy to enjoy this low-impact workout.
Learning how to paddle is an excellent way of getting involved with a sport that will keep you active and in shape. It also opens up opportunities for discovering many other hobbies, such as bird watching or fishing.
Consider joining a local kayak club to learn the basics, avoid investing in equipment upfront and meet like-minded individuals.
It can be an exhilarating adventure or smooth sailing through local waterways — whatever floats your boat (or kayak). So why not keep paddling through your golden years?
#9 Drink a Glass of Water First Thing in the Morning Daily
One of the first things most people do in the mornings is shower. But what about an internal shower? This might sound silly, but drinking water is just that — only from the inside.
When you wake up in the morning, your body may be dehydrated from not drinking anything all night long. Drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning to help kickstart your metabolism and get ready for the rest of the day.
We highly recommend adding this one to your routine because drinking some cold water starts building inertia right away. It’s such a simple, achievable task that will help you start off on a healthy foot.
#10 Spend Time on the Golf Course
Golf is a sport that transcends age and time. Played by millions of seniors, it provides not only the opportunity to socialize and exercise but also a mental challenge.
It may seem slow-paced, but when you play 18 holes, you walk between three to six miles on average. More importantly, golf is a mentally challenging sport. It’s not just about swinging your club but also about strategizing how to control the ball on the course.
Playing golf can be a gratifying experience that leaves you feeling mentally sharper and physically more fit.
#11 Learn How to Paddleboard
In recent years, a new fitness trend has emerged for baby boomers. Paddleboarding is a great way to get in shape and have fun doing it. Paddleboards provide a low-impact workout that is gentle for your core but still has the benefits of aerobic exercise.
If you’re thinking that you couldn’t possibly balance standing on a board in the water, think again. Start by balancing on your knees and slowly work your way to standing up. If you’ve ever ridden a bike before, you can paddleboard as well.
Paddleboarding is the perfect way to get a full-body workout that improves balance, builds strength back up if you’re feeling weakened from an injury or surgery, and it’s a fantastic stress relief.
The best part? It’s easy for anyone to learn as soon as they put in their first few minutes of practice into it.
#12 Learn How to Cook Yummy Healthy Recipes
When you work full-time, it’s hard to make a healthy home-cooked meal every day. In retirement, you don’t have to sacrifice your health and nutrition anymore.
Many people equate eating healthy with boring and bland food, but you can still enjoy your favorite foods without compromising your health or weight loss goals. With so many delicious options out there, you may find yourself giving in to temptations more than you would like.
Nutritional needs change as you age and it may seem like the list of foods to avoid is only growing. But if you find some yummy (and healthy) recipes, stock up on groceries, and meal prep ahead of time, you’ll be following all the nutrition guidelines and won’t be battling weight gain or feeling sluggish anymore.
#13 Try a Game of Pickleball
Don’t worry; no pickles are required to play. The inventor of pickleball named the sport after his dog (as you might have guessed, Pickles) since he used to run away with the ball.
Even though it’s a relatively novel sport, it’s becoming increasingly popular among older adults. It’s a mix between badminton, tennis, and ping pong since it uses different elements from each sport.
The rules are easy to pick up on, but it can quickly become competitive and challenging. If you’re in it to win it, you can expect improvements in cardiovascular fitness and improved strength in hips, wrists and knees.
What if you were to join a pickleball tournament with your friends? After hitting the courts, you’ll be both elated and utterly exhausted at the same time.
#14 Focus on Your Diet and Nutrition
Many factors impact your health in retirement. But your diet is arguably the most important one.
In order to maintain a healthy diet throughout retirement, you have to make good choices the norm. As we age, our need for calories decreases, while the number of needed nutrients increases. In other words, we need to make smarter nutrition choices and avoid certain foods.
The key is making healthier and more nutritionally dense foods your go-to — not only will it help you maintain weight goals, but you’ll also feel great.
#15 Hike up a Giant Mountain
If you’re looking for a new challenge or are simply in need of some inspiration to get out and explore some more nature, hiking up a giant mountain might be the perfect activity for you. Hiking is a sport that many people enjoy well into their 60s and 70s.
From feeling your lungs burn from breathing too much air at once to witnessing incredible views that seem like they belong in an art gallery, there is something about these hikes that will have you coming back again and again.
The best part is that no matter what age you are, there are plenty of options available for hikes that will work with your abilities. So even if climbing up giant mountains isn’t something on your bucket list yet, you might just work your way up to it.
#16 Take a Yoga Class
If you’re in need of some peace and relaxation, take the first step towards feeling better about your body and mind by signing up for a yoga class. There are many ways to get into yoga, and the type of class you take depends on your physical needs.
If you’re looking for a free or discounted, senior-friendly option, try checking out your local library or YMCA club for lists of classes geared toward seniors. You may also find some YouTube videos or online courses specifically targeted at beginners like yourself. Or give these 6 easy chair yoga exercises a try.
If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, improve your mood and health, or just get some exercise in without having to leave the house, yoga may be right up your alley. Studies have shown that practicing this ancient form of meditation can do all three things mentioned above and more.
#17 Commit to a Fitness Goal this Month
We all know that inactivity is dangerous for our health. Still, it’s easy to fall into a routine of thinking, “I’ll start tomorrow.” Our lives are busy, and it can be hard to find time to take care of ourselves.
Why not commit to a fitness goal this month and be on your way to better health in retirement? Whether it is walking 10,000 steps per day (a handy smartwatch can help), eating more fiber or just going up and down stairs more often, find something that works for you.
First, determine how fit you actually are and then set goals that are just challenging enough.
You don’t have to do anything extreme -— just make sure you keep it up.
#18 Simplify your Life
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be challenging to take a step back. It is not only important to simplify your home but also your mind.
Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed? Try simplifying your life by removing all distractions — such as social media or unimportant obligations—and focus on what matters most.
The benefits of living a more simple life include: improved mental clarity, decreased stress levels, increased energy levels, and reduced negative emotions. Simplify your life by cutting out the excesses that no longer serve you.
#19 Take a Cold Shower
Taking a cold shower can be challenging. But the benefits of this simple act are undeniable.
You don’t even need to take a full-on cold shower in order to reap these rewards — experiment with ending it with a short icy blast. So if you’re looking for something different or a new challenge, then take the plunge.
#20 Partake in Brain Training
So much of what we do in our lives affects how we age. Keeping your brain young is just as important as taking care of your body. One way to exercise your mind is by partaking in brain training and brain games.
Brain health is key to staying independent longer because it helps with memory retention, decision-making abilities, reasoning, and problem-solving skills.
The best part about brain games is that you’re never too old to play them. If it feels like your interests are becoming increasingly geared towards watching TV, then consider a challenging game of sudoku or chess (and perhaps taking it to another level and looking into a chess tutor) to stimulate and strengthen the mind.
#21 Walk in the Woods
Forget the gym membership. Forget jogging for miles. Forget that your knee is bothering you or that you can’t run anymore. All it takes is a simple walk to reap the benefits of exercise and be healthier.
Walking has been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels. And it’s even more beneficial in the woods. Forest bathing — experiencing and reconnecting with the woods — for even just 20 minutes can have a significant impact on your wellbeing.
In a world that is becoming increasingly more urbanized, it’s more important than ever for people to find ways of connecting with the natural environment in order to maintain their physical and mental health.
#22 Spend Time Gardening
Gardening is a great way to stay healthy since you get outside and spend time in nature. It will keep your mind sharp and joints healthy.
When you work in the garden, it’s not just about lifting plants or digging holes. You’re also:
- Squatting down to plant new seeds
- Bending over to water them with care every day
- Walking around tending and harvesting produce when they’re ripe enough for picking
These movements activate all sorts of muscles and turn into a full-body exercise.
Apart from reducing the risk of dementia, improving fitness levels, and boosting your mood, it has a therapeutic effect on your mind.
So don’t be afraid of planting some flowers or herbs on your balcony this year – it’s a fun way to stay active and improve your overall wellness.
To Healthy Aging
If you are a retiree or about to be one soon, we hope that these activities for seniors will inspire you to keep your brain sharp and your body healthy.
It’s never too early, or late, to start planning for the future. If you need help finding time or resources for any of these 22 items on the list, we’re here. You deserve to retire well and find purpose in retirement — don’t let anything hold you back from doing so.
Ready to jump into these health-promoting hobbies? Let’s make today count — pick a number and start!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our list of 101 things to do when you retire.