Retirement is an opportunity to reinvigorate yourself, spending your days doing the activities that you enjoy most. Maybe that’s perfecting your golf swing, traveling the world or spending time with family.
After spending the majority of your life at work, you might not be sure what activities you want to add to your retirement bucket list. The best part of retirement is that you determine your schedule and have the freedom to explore what makes you tick. And, activities that contribute to your overall health should top the list, contributing to a long, happy, healthy retirement.
If you’re drawing a blank when it comes to what to add to your list, here’s a few thought starters.
Learn a foreign language
Mastering a foreign language can be difficult and time consuming, but also very rewarding.
Learning another language may also improve brain function and auditory attention or concentration because language is so complex. Engaging in a second language leads to more activity in certain brain regions, giving it a mental workout while also helping delay the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia by as much as five years, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
If English is your primary language, learning something similar such as Spanish, French or even Portuguese would be the easiest. Having the ability to communicate with people from another country is not only a great learning experience, but it will be immensely helpful if you plan to travel to another part of the world where people speak that language. Even if you don’t become completely fluent, having a basic understanding of a language other than your own gives you the ability to communicate basic and important information to others.
As a reward, schedule a trip where you can practice your new skill.
Plant a garden
Eating healthy is important at every age. Growing your own garden is the freshest way you can eat. Starting your own garden may seem overwhelming at first, but all you need is a few square feet of land, seeds, water and time.
Gardening has a variety of health benefits including weight loss, decreased stress and lower blood pressure. The National Institute of Health recommends 30 to 45 minutes of gardening three to five times per week as a way to combat obesity.
A personal garden also helps you save money on produce you would normally buy from the store and allows you to spend time outdoors. You can start by growing a few vegetables to add into your meals, and then eventually evolve the garden to produce all of your vegetables.
Road Trip on Route 66
There’s a reason that they say to “get your kicks on Route 66.” This legendary road spans nearly the entire length of the continental United States, starting in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles, covering a distance of nearly 2,000 miles.
Route 66 used to be the only way to get from one side of the country to the other, which is why there are countless attractions along the road. On your trip you will pass towns that have long been forgotten after the advent of the national interstate highway system, and dozens of roadside attractions and mom-and-pop shops.
Taking a trip on Route 66 is like taking a trip back in time. The towns and attractions along the road that haven’t changed in 50 or 60 years make this road a must-see in the United States. What better time to take the trip than in retirement?
Start a new fitness routine
Fitness and exercise is imperative to good physical and mental health at any age, but exercise grows in importance as we get older. Multiple studies show that consistent, moderate exercise can help people get to or maintain a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and reduce joint pain.
One of the best and most simple fitness routines to add to your day is walking. Walking helps protect your heart, slims you down, keeps your memory sharp, improves your mood and results in a restful sleep. Other great ways to get your fitness routine started can be joining a gym or local health club. Many gyms have senior fitness groups or classes to participate in such as water aerobics or yoga.
Volunteer at a local establishment
Using your free time to help others is a rewarding way to spend your time. No matter the cause you’re passionate about, there are numerous charities and nonprofit organizations where you can volunteer. It may be as simple as volunteering to help in a classroom at a local school a couple of times a month, or packaging food at a local food bank.
The internet is a great resource to find charities in need of volunteers. Simply start by searching your city and “volunteer opportunities” and you will see a plethora of ways to help. Your personal network of family, friends and acquaintances is also a great resource to get involved in the community. Use those connections to find somewhere to donate your time.
Not only does volunteering help your community, but it also has been proven to reduce the risk of hypertension in older adults. A Carnegie Mellon University study showed that adults over the age of 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure – a major contributor to heart disease and stroke – than non-volunteers.
No matter what you decide to do with your retirement time, just remember that you’ve earned it so enjoy it. For more tips for your retirement, visit Priority Health’s Retirement Starter.