The benefits of staying active may be widespread and well-documented, but according to Statistics Canada, only half of adults ages 45-64 make physical activity a regular part of their leisure time. Fitness can play an important role in overall health and may contribute to everything from cancer prevention to improved self-esteem but for some, finding the right exercise program isn’t always a walk in the park.
Getting in shape doesn’t have to mean toiling away on the treadmill. If your current routine feels more like work than working out, there are plenty of ways to help get you moving that can be enriching, engaging and enjoyable.
Here are 5 ways to shake up your current routine at any age:
Make It Social
Group fitness can be a great way to build strength and a sense of community. According to the National Seniors Council, both may be vital to healthy aging. A study cited in their 2014 report on the Social Isolation of Seniors states that the biggest emerging issue facing older adults in Canada is keeping them socially connected and active. Pursuing wellness with others could be an enjoyable, effective way to address both. So if you haven’t yet, feel free to mix friendship with fitness.
See the World
Vacation doesn’t have to be all beach chairs and buffets, getting away could be the key to getting in shape. A 2017 Australian study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that wellness retreats can result in quantifiable lifestyle changes and sustained health improvements.
From “Senior Breaks” in Europe that promote medical wellness, relaxation and culture, to FIT Cruises that challenge active seniors on the high seas, there are several exciting options for fitness-based travel.
A little competition can make a lot of difference when it comes to staying in shape. Recent research conducted by the University of Windsor reveals numerous benefits enjoyed by adults pursuing sport later in life, including increased motivation, travel opportunities and recognition for hard work. Whether tennis, ice hockey, alpine skiing or another athletic pursuit is calling you, there are sporting associations across Canada to help get you in the game.
Of course, you may be your own best competition. A wearable device such as the award-winning FitBit can track your step count, monitor your vitals, and help you set goals.
Lending muscle to a cause can be a wonderful way to empower yourself and others. Volunteer Canada’s 2013 paper, Volunteering and Older Adults shows that civic engagement can lead to positive physical and emotional health. Mature volunteers reported their health to be better than that of non-volunteers, and also, they experienced lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Walking (or running) for a cause, taking part in an environmental initiative, such as the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean Up, or participating in a Habitat for Humanity build are just a few ways to stay active and engaged.
For more information on healthy aging and giving back visit Volunteer Canada.
Try Something New
Retirement can be the ultimate time to master a new hobby or rediscover an old one, and diving into something different may have significant health benefits.
In addition to providing a safe, low impact workout, McMaster University reports that lesser-known, alternative exercise programs such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong may be more effective at enhancing mental well-being than other sports.
If you’re eager to put on your dancing shoes, the National Ballet of Canada has partnered with Baycrest Health Sciences and Trent University to bring dance classes to active seniors across the country through their emerging Sharing Dance program.
When it comes to staying in shape, staying interested can be half the battle. Refreshing your routine with new faces, places and challenges can be a great way to enhance overall health and happiness at any stage in life. If lifting those same weights is starting to drag you down, shaking things up it might be just what you need to get excited about exercise again.
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