Retirement isn’t simply an end to your working life, it’s a new beginning for a different phase of life. You’ve earned this time, and we compiled this list of five ways to get the most from retirement living.
1. Maintain or Start a Healthy Diet
A major part of aging well is eating well. With more time, you can explore healthy meals and culinary options. The Food Network and the Cooking Channel, and recipe sites like Eating Well and Food 52, help you learn how to choose and prepare foods for wellness and to discover new ingredients, cuisines and techniques. Many grocery stores and farmers’ markets give free cooking technique classes and demonstrations; others offer classes for a fee. Living with a chronic illness? National associations publish recipes and cookbooks designed specifically for people with certain conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
2. Get Moving
No matter your mobility or fitness level, exercise is a core component of enjoying life and staying independent. Consult with your healthcare provider about activities and exercises that make sense for you. Many senior and community centers schedule regular no- or low-fee group fitness classes designed especially for older adults. Or look for gyms and studios that meet your particular interests. Whenever possible, try to be active outside. Fresh air and sunshine are good for you (but don’t forget the sunscreen even in winter!). Look for opportunities to go for a walk, collect rocks or shells, work in a garden, or go birdwatching. Bonus points for engaging in these activities with a group to increase your social involvement.
3. Try a New Creative Endeavor
Researchers have found that sustained, creative challenges are a way to help keep brains fit. Art activities that stimulate cognitive functioning can also help reduce depression and isolation among dementia patients and improve the vitality and quality of life of adults living with mild Alzheimer’s disease. Drawing, painting, singing, playing an instrument, scrapbooking, flower arranging – anything that gets the creative juices flowing is good for you. Many local recreation and parks departments offer free or low-cost art classes, as do senior centers. Creating with others has the benefit of strengthening social ties and keeping you from feeling alone or isolated. And don’t forget to check out apps that enable you to engage your creativity in a digital environment. Being creative and thinking of fresh ideas helps keep you young.
4. Take a Course
Learning new things is another way to stay youthful and stimulated. Online courses and in-person classes are terrific ways to keep your mind active and meet other people. Local universities, community colleges and community centers offer continuing education and learning opportunities. Ted Talks and online education providers give you additional access to new ideas from your home.
5. Go Somewhere
Travel is incredibly stimulating and fun. A quick search of the web will uncover companies and organizations that plan group or individual travel around specific interests or designed for older adults, including those with mobility or cognitive issues. Not up for a trip? Technology makes it possible to travel without boarding a plane or bus. Most of the world’s major museums offer virtual tours online, and popular destinations post sightseeing videos on their websites.
You worked hard to get to this point. Make the most of your retirement by engaging in activities and developing habits to enjoy it.