Care For Yourself In 2023 – Here Are 5 Great Ways To Stay Mentally And Physically Active This Year
There’s a lot of talk about returning to normal this year. But that doesn’t just mean going back to in-person shopping, doctor visits or seeing a movie or show in person. For many seniors, 2023 will be about refocusing the body and mind to the post-pandemic world and finding a healthy path forward. The COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for lifestyle disruptions like remote work and communicating with family and friends through online-only platforms. Many of us also worked on being better at keeping our bodies and minds sharp during a very stressful time.
For many others, it was also a time of loneliness and isolation, particularly for seniors who were classified in the “high risk” category for the virus. Dr. Jennifer Christian Herman, vice president of Mindbody Medicine at Blue Shield of California, says that the pandemic’s impact on older people impacted both physical and mental health. Many seniors experienced increased depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders, some of which can be attributed to inconsistent physical activity. Thankfully in 2023, seniors can venture back to the outside world through mind, body and social interactions. Here are five ways to care for mind and body in 2023.
1. Check Medicare Advantage For Gym Memberships
Many Medicare Advantage insurance plans include SilverSneakers, Silver & Fit or Peerfit Move programs that offer free or low-cost membership to various gyms and classes at local community centers. Participating fitness sites are so prevalent across the nation that SilverSneakers boast about having more locations than coffee or fast-food chains - there’s sure to be one near you.
2. Join A Club
From fraternal orders like Rotary and Daughters of the American Revolution to the Sierra Club and vintage or sports car owners clubs, thousands of organizations and societies welcome new members. Many of them are service oriented and others are just for fun.
Somewhere out there is a club that fits your hobbies or interests. And while some concentrate on sustaining your mind and soul, others are all about bodily wellbeing and good health.
A partner of the Oasis National Network, Club WISE is a low-cost membership program for seniors with in-person classes and events in Santa Monica and Baldwin Hills. Beyond exercise programs, members can join casino or spa outings, learn computer skills, and many other activities.
And let’s not forget one of the nation’s oldest community organizations. Seniors can also turn to their local YMCA to rejuvenate their bodies post-pandemic. Senior membership for those 65 and older comes with all the perks of regular adult membership but at a reduced price.
3. Learn Tai Chi, Yoga or Meditation
Meditation, deep breathing and motion sequences like Tai Chi and yoga can provide massive benefits for physical and mental well-being no matter what your age.
Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years. Since it first became popular in California in the 1960s, it’s gone from being a fringe New Age practice to a part of the cultural and healthcare mainstream. Among its many benefits are pain reduction, lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system, and improving balance and flexibility - all of those important as we age.
A little less mainstream than yoga but rapidly gaining popularity, Tai Chi offers both physical and cognitive benefits. The Tai Chi exercise movement called “Energy to the Sky” is particularly beneficial to seniors as it stretches and strengthens your back and abdominal regions while developing your core stability. Another movement called “Drawing the Bow” targets arms, shoulders, chests and legs. If physical limitations restrict either of these practices, meditation is a great alternative and can provide huge benefits. Studies show that meditation can improve the immune system, help with pain management, improve attention, and lower the risk of succumbing to medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension. UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) offers meditation classes, programs, training and events to the general public, as well as guided meditations on a free app.
4. Play Bridge, Chess or Mahjong
Playing bridge, chess or mahjong are effective in improving short-term memory, attention and logical thinking in both middle-aged and older people. There are plenty of classes and clubs you can join in the L.A. area. Many are listed at coursehorse.com or you can zero in on a particular pastime by contacting organizations like the American Contract Bridge League or the Southern California Chess Federation, which maintains a list of chess clubs, teams and places to play.
Mahjong’s popularity continues to grow by leaps and bounds in the United States. Played with tiles rather than cards, the game is fun, social and certainly tests a person’s planning, memory and calculation skills. Both meetup.com and wherethewindsblow.com list groups that are open to accepting mahjong players.
5. Go Back To School With 17 universities and 35 junior colleges, the Los Angeles area is an ideal place to hit the books again. Seniors can keep their minds active and engaged through noncredit or extension classes that you take for fun or full-fledged degree courses offered at a discount or even free for older residents through the California State University system, some community colleges and the OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute.