As we grow older, head toward retirement and wind down, we can often find ourselves disconnecting from our communities. We are usually active within our social circles, with colleagues in employment and through weekend sports and activities with children, although this changes as those children grow up and our careers run their course. However, with a variety of community-based activities you can engage in, remaining active is easier than it first seems.
Finding where and how to actively participate in your community can depend on a range of factors including your personal interests and the purpose of your activity – are you trying to remain fit and healthy, looking to give back to the community, uncover a new hobby or perhaps trying to combat loneliness? Whether it is finding something you enjoy several times a week or a combination of events throughout, we take a look at how you can get involved while taking care of your physical and mental health.
Keep physically active
Studies have shown how important regular physical activity is in maintaining health into old age. Those over 65 are most at risk of the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, with the NHS reporting this age group spend 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down. Joining a group activity such as yoga or walking is not only good for our social lives but also has a positive effect on our physical wellbeing.
Walking groups will help to achieve your 10,000 daily step count and 30 minutes of moderate daily activity that has been shown to help reduce the risk of diseases such as Stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Other forms of moderate exercise include yoga, riding a bike or for those looking for something easier on the joints, water aerobics. These activities are easily completed in group sessions opening the door to a new social circle while supporting health and fitness goals.
Activate your mind for mental wellness
Just as our physical health is important to our overall wellbeing, so too is our mental health. While activities such as reading and meditation are often undertaken in solitude, you can still enjoy these actions in a group setting. Try joining a local book club where you can discuss your latest book with a like-minded group or read and review a common book each month, or practice meditation in a Hatha Yoga group class.
If arts and culture are more up your alley, perhaps trying your hand at pottery or watercolours will unlock a new talent in an inclusive environment. Not only are these activities fun to undertake, but they also promote a host of benefits for your mental health including improving mindfulness and reducing stress and anxiety.
Giving back to the community
An easy way to immerse yourself in your community is to participate in a pursuit that gives back. There are so many wonderful causes to dedicate some of your time to, but a few of our favourites are volunteering at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter where your cooking or conversational skills could be quite useful, maintaining community spaces with local gardening groups ensuring the environment and people coexist harmoniously, or spending time in your local charity or hospice store tending to stock or processing sales. These are all great ways to contribute to your local community while forming meaningful relationships.
Beating loneliness together
Throughout our lives, we are granted numerous opportunities to forge relationships, with school and sporting group friends, colleagues, parents of our children’s friends and at parenting groups. However, entering a new phase of life can remove us from these situations and make it harder to find substantial connections, especially in retirement. This is the perfect opportunity to build new friendships while taking up a new hobby or activity. Often, the people you meet at these activities share similar interests and are likely there for the same reason you are. This gives you a common ground to build a friendship upon and breaks the ice.
While stepping outside your comfort zone may seem daunting, trying new hobbies and seeking out new friendships in retirement is vital for both our physical and mental wellbeing. Combating loneliness is essential in a world where there is a growing focus of maintaining contact online. Engaging with your local community will help beat the sense of solitude that can arise within a new phase of life and make those years of freedom far more enjoyable.