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Ageing and fitness: It’s about more than staying in shape

Ageing and fitness: It’s about more than staying in shape

This article is a guest post written by our friend Danielle Kunkle Roberts, a Medicare insurance expert at Boomer Benefits. Her team help baby boomers navigate Medicare in the USA. 


In my many years as a Medicare insurance expert, I’ve had the opportunity to see how life changes for my clients after retirement. For many, the opportunity to retire is very welcome and the future is full of great plans.

For some, however, retirement can be a mixed bag. While not heading into the office every day seems to be universally appreciated, the reality is that for many of us our careers have had a lot to do with our identities, our sense of purpose and our place in the world.

Retirement also coincides with a lot of other things that can be problematic if we aren’t careful. Our bodies don’t quite work as well as they used to and we tend to be more forgetful. We sometimes start to lose friends and older family members that have been an important part of our circle for years.

Our children have also grown up and moved away, leaving us with an empty-nest feeling that isn’t always so pleasant. We face worries about the unknown: Will we have enough money set aside to go the distance? Will we remain independent enough to keep our homes as we head into our golden years?

Sometimes all of this can lead to uncertainty, loneliness and even depression, which is more common for people aged 65 and older than you might think.

An important way to combat this is by staying physically active, and part of staying healthy both in mind and in body is by pursuing physical activity. Studies show that staying active leads to a longer life span, fewer chronic illnesses, and better balance, mobility and sleep.

Below you’ll find some great ways to keep you physically in shape and mentally sharp.

Gardening

My mother loves to garden but rarely had the time to pursue it while she was still working long hours at her accounting job. Now that she has retired, she spends most mornings tending to her garden and her flower beds. This daily activity has led to better lower-body strength and fresh vegetables for her dinner recipes.

She also makes weekly trips to the local nursery where she chats with the staff about horticulture, and finds new hearty plants that can survive the Texas heat.

Many cities and towns have garden clubs or arbor groups that individuals can join to learn about plants, trees, and other gardening topics while also sharing their love of gardening.

You can also attend local gardening workshops or join gardening groups on Facebook where you can post images of your latest backyard masterpiece and ask other members questions from everything to do with sustainability to soil.

Gardening is a great way to develop a hobby into a passion because you finally have the time to devote to it.

Fitness Memberships

Everyone knows that joining a local gym is a great way to pursue both cardiovascular health and weight-training, which is good for our bone density as we age.

Fitness memberships also help us to meet new friends and participate in group exercises and even social events with other like-minded individuals.

Many people over 65 have access to fitness programs at no cost through their Medicare insurance plans. Over 60 Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans have partnered with programs like Silver Sneakers to provide seniors with an opportunity for regular physical activity and an opportunity to connect with other people.

This free fitness program offers members more than just gym access. Through its FLEX program members can participate in group exercise classes, circuit training, chair aerobics, yoga and dance classes outside the gym, and much more.

If you don’t have access to a fitness membership through your Medicare plan, then consider joining your local YMCA. Activities may include water aerobics classes for seniors, group lunches or pot-luck dinners and day trips.

Team Sports

During your working years, you may not have had time to participate in a local sports league. Fortunately, team sports are not just for young adults.

Biking and hiking clubs can be found in most urban communities. You can also often find groups for bocce ball, pickleball, archery, badminton, bowling, cycling, tennis, volleyball and more.

If you are into competitive sports – or even watching competitive sports – check out the National Senior Games Association which holds an annual competition where people over 50 come together to test their abilities in an Olympic-style atmosphere.

Get a Fitbit

Fibit offers one of the most popular technology devices for encouraging physical activity in people of all ages, but did you know you can join a Fitbit community group online?

Their online forums bring people from all over the world together to find friends and workout partners and to discuss topics like managing weight, eating well, ways to get moving and even how to get better sleep.

You can also find and participate in Fitbit challenges against other participants. Their popular weekend warrior and daily showdown challenges motivate and inspire individuals to get in more steps than their friendly opponents.

You can also find Fitbit Local events in some cities where you can sign up for a yoga and mimosa class, or a local nature walk. Events are led by local Fitbit ambassadors whose goals are to provide great free workouts to keep you motivated in your fitness journey during your retirement years.

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