There’s no reason that aging has to mean becoming less active. Quite the contrary, there are many moderns stories showing not only how many options there really are, but also the benefits that come from staying active or choosing to become active for the first time. Just because you are 70, 80, or even 90, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an active sport or active hobby.
Getting the most out of each day brings a lot of extra benefits, and you might be surprised by just how much you really enjoy the additional benefits that taking up one of these low-impact, senior-friendly hobbies can deliver.
Walking really doesn’t get the credit that it deserves! While not many people think of walking as exercise, studies have shown that all by itself walking can be incredible. One study had normally sedentary people walk as few as 6,000 steps a day for a month. At the end of the month there were widespread reports of feeling better, losing excess weight, and feeling far less stiffness or pain. Actual tests seemed to back this up with lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body, better cholesterol numbers, and higher energy.
That was with a minimal change in steps. This doesn’t even take into effect the proven benefits of walking in nature, walking in the woods, or getting sunlight during the day to brighten your emotional mood. For many people walking becomes an outstanding passion in and of itself but if that seems boring or not enough, there are many ways to incorporate other hobbies into walking to make the two go together hand in hand.
How to Start a Walking Habit
Visiting parks is a great way to start. Whether in a small town or large city, there are sure to be some fantastic parks that are worth visiting. Take a walk in the grass, sit down at a shelter and enjoy reading for a bit while you rest, and really explore what the local area has to offer. During pleasant seasons this can include the sounds of animals, or the benefits of sun and shade.
When the weather isn’t as nice, find cozy places to walk indoors. Many malls open their doors early for senior walkers. This gives you a place to keep up your walking habit without having to worry about rain, snow or other bad weather.
How to Make Walking More Challenging
If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging as your walks slowly grow longer and longer, then you can adjust to Nordic walking. This is a special form of walking with two walking poles that was originally designed for cross country skiers to help stay in shape even when there was no snow on the ground. Because of the use of poles Nordic walking is very low impact, appropriate for people of virtually all ages and fitness levels.
What is Nordic walking? Here is a video that demonstrates it plus has a modified technique for seniors.
There are classes that help teach the right technique for Nordic walking and opens up a full body walking workout that can be done at various speeds and intensities to pick up the challenge if you want, or you can take it easy and enjoy the benefits.
Combine Your Walking with Other Hobbies
Since you’re going to be walking in a lot of pretty areas anyway, why not pick up photography as a hobby? Because there are so many simple to use cameras for seniors now, it has never been easier and you have the ability to capture those impressive pictures or magical moments as you walk through parks, grow food in the garden, meet people, and just otherwise experience what the world has to offer as you go about you day.
While you are visiting parks, also consider a hobby like birdwatching for seniors. This will get you out and about, walking through nature, becoming more observant of what’s around you. You’ll be getting plenty of steps in while looking for birds, learning about local nature, and enjoying being immersed in it. Birdwatching is a great low impact way for seniors to connect with nature. That’s a great array of benefits that all are going to lead to a higher quality of life.
This is a natural extension of walking, and often adds in the physical health and mental well-being benefits that are shown to come from spending time in nature. One of the great benefits of hiking for seniors is working out the muscles a little bit more. Add in the peace that comes from being surrounded by beautiful nature and it is easy to see why hiking is so enjoyable.
If you are in really good shape and want a challenge you can find a trail with steeper hills, rolling hills, or more challenging sections. For beginners, there are plenty of park trails designed to be little more than leisurely walks in the woods or down by a nearby creek or river.
This can also cause you to explore parks a little bit further out that you haven’t visited before, creating new experiences and a greater, fuller knowledge of where you live and what there is to enjoy.
Gardening is a wonderful hobby that not only produces fresh food but also involves plenty of good old fashioned work. Planting, watering, weeding, and finally harvesting all takes energy and movement. If you have your own plot of land gardening can be a great way to pass the time while providing food to be eaten or canned for later use. Check out the many special garden tools for seniors that make gardening easier.
If you don’t have your own bit of land to till, there are increasingly many volunteer gardens that can always use help growing food for underprivileged families. Look around to see what’s going on or even consider talking with someone who has unused land to start a similar project yourself. This can help you get in your exercise while also during enormous good for the surrounding community, as well.
Nintendo Wii – Wii Games
Gaming has gotten a bad rap from the media, and a lot of it has been very unfair. Studies have shown that many seniors who play moderate amounts of games with others feel happier, their eye-hand coordination improves, and mental sharpness and reaction time improves in real life. Wii games (Amazon link) have been especially good in this department as they allow for movement and a multi-player social setting.
Even nearly a decade after developing more games and spreading in popularity, it’s hard to argue with Wii Bowling, Wii Golf, or Wii Tennis which remain three of the most popular games on the Wii to this day. These are rare games that are simply, sociable, get you moving, and can be enjoyed by players of all ages from their 70’s down to little kids and every decade in between.
This is even a fun activity you can do with the grandkids!
While this might seem contrary to instinct, there are many great stories out there of senior citizens who have seen amazing benefits with weight lifting. That can be at an intense level like this 70 year old with arthritis who is a bodybuilding champion or something much more easy going that simply helps to maintain strength and keep your bones strong in old age.
The best bet with weight lifting is always to start out with a trainer and under professional supervision to figure out which exercises are best for you and your goals and to set up a workout that is safe while giving you excellent health and wellness benefits.
Does the thought of going to a gym with a bunch of muscle heads stress you out? Start out with these home-based body weight exercises to get a feel for the movements without the need to perform for an audience.
Not all of us are swimmers but if you are, that can be a great way to keep in shape. Heated indoor pools not only give you a chance to swim laps but many gyms offer things like water aerobics or calisthenics. If you love to walk but the joints hurt a lot of the time, getting the extra buoyancy from being in water could be enough just to recapture walking back and forth and in some cases getting a rehabilitation effect from that.
In other words, whether actually swimming or just enjoying the benefits of an indoor hot tub, there’s a lot to like here.
These are just some of the many great ways that individuals in their 70’s, 80’s, or even higher can enjoy good company, get good exercise, and improve their quality of life. If you are looking for something a little less impactful, then look into tai chi for seniors who want to improve balance and mobility. Discuss these sports and hobbies for active seniors with your doctor and then give them a try!