Top 10 Things to do this Summer for Seniors
It’s essential to stay independent and active at any age, and during the summer months, enjoying the outdoors can help independent seniors maintain their health and vitality. There are a lot of options for staying active in warmer weather, and exercise is always beneficial.
Sometimes, choosing an indoor activity in the summer is a smart move. When the weather gets hot and humid, it can be tempting to curl up in a chair with an old movie in an air-conditioned room. Getting out and enjoying a more active option doesn’t have to mean suffering in the summer heat, though.
Have Fun this Summer While Staying Active
1. Go for a walk in the early morning
This is the time of day when the temperatures are cool. There may even be a pleasant breeze to enjoy. For independent seniors who like walking or running, exercising in the early morning hours is a better option than later in the day when the heat increases the risk of dehydration.
2. Indoor walks
When temperatures make exercising outside uncomfortable, try walking in a large air-conditioned place like an indoor track or the mall. Fitness trackers make counting steps easy, no matter where you choose to exercise. (Bonus: many smartphones have pedometer apps you can download!) Walking with another person is great motivation and helps you keep up the pace.
3. Exercise class
For a change, try an exercise class like chair yoga or water-walking. Both are excellent options for people who may struggle with limited mobility or are trying to improve their overall fitness levels. Many YMCA locations offer classes for seniors with specially trained instructors. This is another great way to connect with other seniors in your community.
4. Dance Class
Try a dance class for an instant injection of fun and excitement. Don’t worry if you don’t have a partner. Many classes don’t require you to sign up as one-half of a pair. This option offers the benefit of a schedule too. You may even make new friends. Music has a powerful effect on the human mind. Go for the exercise and for the mood lift.
5. Scenic walks
Seniors who live in a city can enjoy a long walk with the bonus of great scenery in an aquarium, zoo or park. In hot weather, choose an indoor location like the local art museum. If you feel up to it, be sure to take the stairs. In some towns, free days are scheduled in advance. If a local museum or indoor nature center offers free admission every Wednesday, for example, be sure to schedule your visit for that day each week.
6. Group Sports
Many seniors love to participate in group sports. If you gave up bowling but would like to get back into it, now is the time. Ask around about local bowling leagues, or get a group of friends together for a no-pressure bowling night. If there’s a sport you used to play and enjoy, consider reigniting that passion.
Gardening is a great way to stay active. Whether you love to tend heirloom tomato plants or daylilies, getting involved with a gardening club is a great way to connect with the community and stay active. Many clubs have regular activities. For the truly ambitious, nothing offers a great workout like a day of cleaning up a local public garden.
8. Get out of the house
Sometimes staying active can be as simple as getting out of the house (and off the couch) by volunteering. Check with the local library staff to see if they need help reshelving books and movies. Ask a nearby school about helping supervise summer programs, independent seniors have great experiences and insights to offer. The food bank may need help putting away canned goods or taking inventory. The options are limitless.
While your first instinct may be to get out of the kitchen during the summer, consider cooking to stay independent and active. Visit the local farmers market and try a new recipe for dinner. Take a cooking class with a family member of friend, or offer to teach one if you have a special culinary skill.
10. Bike Rides
Go for a bike ride. Many new bikes come with comfortable seats that help hold the rider in a more upright position, which increases visibility and comfort, great for independent seniors. For extra stability, you could try a 3-wheeled bike, like we have at The Willows (stop by for a spin!). Wear a helmet, of course. Lots of communities have bike lanes, paved trails, and events for people who love to cruise on two wheels.
When pursuing outdoor activities, remember to take precautions. Independent seniors are more vulnerable to dehydration than younger people, and no one feels good when they let themselves get too thirsty. Packing extra water is a good idea, even for a light activity. Water is the best prevention for dehydration. Sports drinks are full of salt and sugar, so avoiding the colored sweet drinks is a good idea.
Seniors can be especially sensitive to encephalitis and West Nile virus, so mosquito repellent, particularly near dusk and at night, is essential for safety.
It’s also important to consider sun protection during the summer months. Wearing sunglasses will cut down on dangerous glare and protect eyes from the sun’s rays. Sunscreen is essential, even on long car rides. Light-colored clothes that are also loose-fitting help keep older adults more comfortable when temperatures climb.
Staying active in the summer months doesn’t have to be difficult. It may require a certain amount of creativity and the willingness to try new things, but having a summer full of new adventures will increase your overall well-being.
The Willows Premier Retirement Communities for Active Adults offers vibrant, active environments with an abundance of on-site amenities, services, and activities for seniors.