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Older Adult Wellness: Active Aging

Sept. 22 to 28 is Active Aging Week sponsored by the International Council on Active Aging. The week is a time to celebrate living an active, healthy and engaged lifestyle. Often times as people age, they become paralyzed by a case of “I used to be able to…” Overwhelmed by what they are no longer able to do, they shut down and don’t participate in what they enjoy. Rather than let the memories of the past ensnare you by focusing on what your body previously did, let the past spur you to discover and embrace the abilities you have today.

While it may look and feel different, there are many ways to continue enjoying activities you did in your younger years. Be creative in how you involve yourself in your favorite activities. For example, your body may not be able to run for miles like it could 20 years ago, but a walk can be just as enjoyable as it gives you time to slow down and even invite a friend along to create a social time. Or maybe getting down on your knees to garden is no longer an option, but you can still put your hands to work by working in a raised garden bed.

The theme for Active Aging Week 2013 is “Discover Your Community.” Being “active” doesn’t mean every day has to be filled with a regimented exercise routine. For some, staying active means hosting friends for a home-cooked lunch. For others it is an early morning stroll or a lively game of cards. To be active, focus on being engaged socially, physically, and mentally. Here is a list of ten ways to you can be active as you age.

Talk a walk — Find a walking path that is suited to your ability level.

Visit a friend — Pick up the phone, walk to a neighbor’s, or chat online through email to enjoy some company.

Volunteer — Giving back is one of the most rewarding ways to discover your community.

Bridge the gap — Spend time with a different generation to soak up their perspective and enthusiasm while sharing your own knowledge.

Plant something — Whether you are getting dirty in a garden, or planting a flower in a pot on a table, use your hands to be creative and productive.

Learn something new — Keep your brain in optimal function by learning a new skill such as a foreign language or new cooking technique.

Practice balance — Prevent falls and stay steady on your feet by completing balance exercises.

Stay informed — Keep up to date with the latest news, laws, and trends for older adults.

Stretch yourself — Keep flexible by stretching for 5-10 minutes each day.

Travel — Discover the world around you by traveling to new cities or states. If you can’t get out town, there are plenty of places to explore online.

No matter what the younger you could do, ask yourself, “What can I do today to stay active, engaged and healthy?”

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