Entering your golden years is no reason to give up on your favorite pastimes, sports and social activities. In fact, doctors have long agreed that staying active and involved in their communities is actually vital to the well-being of senior citizens. The good news is that staying active doesn’t have to be expensive or overly taxing on the body. There are many opportunities for older adults to get involved in their communities. Here are seven low-cost or free activities for seniors to enjoy their local communities.
Find a Community Garden
Gardening is a wonderful way to get outdoors, connect with the earth and do something truly meaningful. While maintaining a full-scale garden might not be a task that you’re up to, you can still participate in a community garden. True to their name, these gardens rely on involvement from individual citizens in order to thrive. You may be able to plant your own plot at a community garden, or you might embrace an opportunity to develop a certain section of the larger garden. Gardening is both relaxing and active, which makes it ideal for adults who want to enjoy their retirement years while staying fit.
The American Community Garden Association lists many community gardens on its website. You can also find community gardens by checking your local newspaper or calling your county’s parks and recreation office.
Volunteer Your Time
Getting involved in a community organization is a great way to socialize and give back to your community. Think of causes that you’re passionate about. Community organizations, churches, schools and public safety agencies are often in need of volunteers. You can use your professional expertise and skills to contribute to your community. Volunteering is also a great way to learn a new skill, which can help you stay mentally sharp as you age.
Of course, volunteering your time is also a great way to meet new people. You’ll meet people from different backgrounds and generations who share your interest in service. Consider volunteering an opportunity to enjoy social time while sharing your valuable wisdom with others.
Take Your Pet for a Stroll
If you have a dog, hook that leash on and go for a walk outside. Walking your dog is a great way to get exercise. You’ll also have the opportunity to build relationships with your neighbors if you walk on a regular basis. Consider inviting a friend to walk with you if you’re afraid that you’ll get lonely or have recently moved to a new area. This activity is great for you physically and is important for your dog too.
Heading to a local dog park is another great way to get exercise while staying social. You’ll also meet other pet owners at a dog park. If you go to a dog park that features a bulletin board, be sure to check it periodically for announcements about other events for pet owners.
Get to Know the Local Art Scene
Spending time in an art gallery, history museum, science center or library can be educational, relaxing and even deeply moving. Checking out local art exhibits or spending time at your area’s natural history museum will encourage you to stay both mentally active and physically fit. This activity is great for both seniors who prefer going it solo and those who love group activities. You can browse a museum at your own leisure, or you can join a guided public tour where you’ll meet other people who are interested in the arts.
Many museums, science centers and libraries have special membership programs for senior citizens. Check with local museums to see if they offer discounted senior memberships. Many facilities also have free admission days for senior citizens.
Take Advantage of Senior Center Activities
Almost all senior centers and retirement living communities host activities for seniors. These range from game nights and dances to barbecues and shows. Staying involved in your retirement community or your local senior center will help you build social connections. Many community senior centers also offer valuable services such as low-cost meals and shuttles to medical appointments and shopping centers. These services are there if you need them, and you may be able to volunteer your time to help other senior citizens too.
Both retirement communities and non-residential senior centers host a wide variety of activities. Check your local newspaper and community websites to find out what activities are offered.
Enjoy a Street Market
Fresh air and fresh produce abound at street markets, where vendors and the local community come together for good times and great food. Going to a street market or farmer’s market is a great activity for singles, couples and groups. You’ll find plenty of fresh produce and handmade items to buy. Heading to a festival or market is a good opportunity to get exercise, too. Most markets also have food and drink booths so you can enjoy a snack while you’re shopping.
Check newspapers and local event websites to find out if there are any upcoming farmer’s markets or street markets in your area. Your retirement community or senior center may also post flyers for upcoming events.
Join a Fitness Group
You know that staying active as a senior citizen is important for your mental and physical health, but you might struggle to stay motivated to exercise. One easy solution is to sign up for a fitness group or class. Senior centers, community organizations and gyms all offer classes geared towards older participants. You’ll find gentle options such as yoga and Tai Chi along with cardio activities like swimming and walking. Ask senior organizations, YMCAs and Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs if they have an activity calendar.
If you don’t like to work out in a group setting, consider joining a gym instead. Many gyms have special membership deals for senior citizens. Look for a gym that participates in the Silver Sneakers program or that offers a discount through your insurance company.