It's tempting sometimes to just sit back as you age, relying on the things you already know, the routines of your life, the habits you've formed over the years.
But of course there's a whole world out there, waiting for you to discover it, no matter your age. Here are three things that can help you stay peaceful, healthy and connected to family and friends.
1. Nature walks
Now you might not think about the simple act of walking when you consider new skills. But it can be, depending on where you go. Try going for a nature walk, among the trees, the grass, the bushes. It'll make you feel more alive, according to a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.
"Nature is fuel for the soul. Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature," says University of Rochester psychology professor Richard Ryan, the study author, in a report on the University's website.
He also lists two other benefits of vitality-boosting nature walks:
* People who take them have more energy.
* They are more resilient to physical illness.
More good news, too - you don't have to spend all day out among the flora and the fauna. Just spending 20 minutes walking in those natural settings can "significantly boost vitality levels," Ryan says.
2. Take a dip
Want to try something a bit more aerobic than a stroll in the forest? Try swimming. It's the third most popular sports activity in the United States. Don't want to swim? Try water aerobics or simply walking in water. The resistance of the water makes walking a great workout. Aerobic exercise like swimming can improve the health of people with some chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that swimmers have about half the risk of death compared with inactive people. Here are other ways that water workouts can help:
* Arthritis sufferers can get more use out of their affected joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis report more health improvements than with other activities.
* It improves your mood.
* It decreases anxiety and helps with depression in people with fibromyalgia.
3. Stay connected online
How about keeping in touch with a session at your computer? You won't be alone there either - people age 50 and older are flocking to social networking sites like Facebook. Social networking use by those over 50 more than doubled from 22 percent in April 2009, to 42 percent in May 2010, the Pew Research Center reports.
The whole computer /social networking thing can be intimidating, for sure. But it's like the walking advice: you have to begin with a single step. Take a class or ask a teenager for assistance.
In fact, many seniors get advice from their children or grandchildren on what to do next. This is a good way to interact with the younger generation, because they are very informed about social networking and technology. And you can use your new-found skills to stay in touch with family and friends who live far away with Facebook, Skype and e-mail. Share daily news, photos and wedding announcements, all electronically. Staying connected has serious health benefits, too. People with active social lives and support systems enjoy a sense of well-being, are less likely to develop dementia, live a more active, pain-free life, and just plain live longer.
In addition to the above three tips, another key activity to living well is staying proactive with your health care by getting regular preventive health screenings that can help determine your risk for disease. For example, blood from a simple finger prick can be screened to quickly assess your risk for diabetes and high cholesterol. And, non-invasive vascular screenings, such as a carotid artery screenings and peripheral arterial disease screenings can help significantly reduce heart disease and stroke risks. By finding these silent conditions early, it can help you and your doctor take preventive action before a serious health event occurs. And, as an added benefit to your health and well-being, make sure to stay on top of the latest health news and subscribe to the free Life Line Screening E-Newsletter to get up-to-date news and information sent directly to your e-mail inbox. Also, visit the Life Line Screening blog.
For more information on preventive health screenings, call (866) 346-5433.