How Do I Stay Active?

Millions of Americans look forward to retirement decades before their retirement becomes a reality. They make plans to fill those extra leisure hours in retirement with a long list of activities. Many see retirement as the opportunity to do what they want, when they want. Then, finally, after years of patience and hard work, when retirement arrives…

How do they spend their time?

Retired woman watching tvAccording to USA Today, despite having an extra eight hours’ leisure time per day, “retirees are generally using that extra time to linger a little longer over meals, sleep, do household chores, and watch a lot more TV.” indicates that Americans between 65 and 74 devote only 1.7 of those extra eight hours per day to leisure activities, while the majority of their extra free time is simply devoted to the same sort of daily activities retirees had to deal with long before they retired. The suggestion, then, is that the majority of Americans simply slow down when they reach retirement. Rather than filling their retirement schedules with new activities from sunup to sundown, for the most part retirees simply seem to devote a little more time to such familiar activities as sleeping, shopping, thinking, and eating.

Far from becoming more active in retirement as planned, it appears many American retirees are slowing down and becoming less active. With plenty of evidence that seniors staying active stand to reap tremendous physical and mental benefits, this may be a good time to discuss ways and activities seniors may choose to remain active. Following are ten different types of activities that seniors aiming to get the most out of their retirement might consider.

Go back to school.

Why not? Many seniors do—all the way from the local high school to the university they didn’t have a chance to attend when they were younger. You can enroll at your local community college or simply take an adult education course and learn a skill you’ve been wanting to pick up for years. Online courses are convenient and can bring valuable knowledge and opportunities, but the benefits of interaction—rubbing elbows with fellow students and teachers—seem far superior. There’s probably a learning community right in your neighborhood—and you’d be a great addition to it!


This is a goal many people set for retirement, and it’s often the first goal they forget once they reach retirement. Whether you travel with your spouse, with a friend or group, or alone, travel provides as much stimulation as any other activity within your reach. Nothing gets you out of a rut better than seeing new places, meeting new people, and encountering new situations—and you do those things daily every time you travel.

You might consider posting accounts of your travel experiences online, or submitting travel articles to your local newspaper. Perhaps you’d like to study or brush up on a language you can practice in another country. If you’re inclined to do that, don’t let anybody talk you out of it. Who says retirement is a time for being timid? But, unfortunately, a lot of seniors are hesitant to go far due to limits of their health coverage. Remember, though, with certain Medicare supplement plans you’re well covered on the road—even outside the USA—and don’t have to worry about traveling far from home.


Stay active by doing some good in your community. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference. Regardless of the community you live in, there are small or large organizations eager for your help. If there’s a particular segment of the population you have a particular interest in serving, there’s probably a volunteer group or organization in your city or town focusing on the needs of that group. If you’d like to volunteer to help seniors who may be less fortunate than yourself, for example, you may want to check out an organization like Meals on Wheels, which helps provide over a million meals to seniors every day thanks to a volunteer force that may be the largest in the US. What better way could there be to stay active than by helping provide the needs of people in your city or town?

Go back to work.

But this time, do it the way you choose. You’ve already provided for those who depended on you during your working years. Now it’s time to address what you need. Are you looking for some extra spending money? A little more stimulation than you’re getting at home? What about the chance to do something you love for a little profit? Many seniors apply skills they learned during their careers or picked up over the years on their own, and set out to start small businesses. Some do it primarily to remain active, while others take a more competitive approach and do everything they can to make their businesses successful. Some seniors prefer low-stress, casual, part-time jobs that provide a chance to get out of the house, require them to be physically and mentally active, and keep them in contact with people of all ages. Even after looking forward to retirement for decades, there are plenty of seniors who, after reaching retirement, wouldn’t even consider giving up work altogether.

Get in shape.

More important, stay in shape. Whether you join a gym or do your own cardio, strength, endurance, and stretchingworkouts at home, you’ll be doing your part to minimize the risk of conditions as serious as diabetes and cancer. Rather than accepting a decline in conditioning and energy as an inevitable sign of aging, you’ll have far more energy and be in a position to get a lot more enjoyment out of your golden years.

The benefits of regular exercise are too many to list here. Just for starters, though, you’ll be healthier, you’ll feel better, and you’ll save considerably on your health costs. Exercising in itself requires you to be active, but you may be surprised at how much more active you’ll want to be once all the benefits of exercising kick in!


How many times have you started War and Peace? Well, now that you’re retired, you may finally have a chance to finish it!

Reading seems to be a lost art among many people in the United States, with some polls suggesting over a quarter of Americans haven’t read a single book in the past year. Teachers often comment that it’s getting harder and harder to get students to read, and part of the reason is that many students are growing up in homes without

books and without adults who read for pleasure or read to teach their children.

That’s cause for alarm. But who’s to say you can’t help reverse this trend?

You can read for pleasure—and there’s probably a public library within easy distance of your home where you can enjoy countless hours of entertainment at absolutely no cost.

You can also help your grandkids develop a love of reading if they don’t have it now. Reading sparks the imagination, opens new doors and worlds, and bridges generations—and your grandchildren will likely be grateful when they look back at how you were the one who turned them on to reading.


Face it. If you’re a senior, you could make an argument that you’ve seen more history than anybody who lived before you. You’ve lived through wars, assassinations, new technologies, and even bell bottoms. You’ve been through a career, or maybe two. You’ve probably raised a family. Chances are you’ve built something from nothing many times. You probably have plenty to say, and there are probably people who’d be happy to read what you have to share.

People get a great deal of information from blogs these days—and who’s more qualified to provide some of that information than you? Blogging will let you be as active as you want to be, and an online search will quickly tell you everything you need to know about starting your own blog.

Join a club.

Retired Couple Taking a Walk

Stay active with people who enjoy the same activity you do.

You might consider a joining club for:

• going to the movies

• dancing

• discussing books

• dining

• making crafts

• volunteering

• going to plays or concerts

• making music of your own

• playing tennis or golf

• visiting historical attractions in your region

• chess or bridge

• hiking or walking

If you find there’s not a club in your town that focuses on what really interests you, don’t let that stop you. Start spreading the word that a club is forming. Call people you know who’ve shown interest in the activity you’re planning your club around. Once you’ve got a few members and your club has had a few meetings, you’ll probably start hearing from people who can’t wait to join your group.

Try teaching or mentoring.

Whatever skill or knowledge you’re interested in sharing, you shouldn’t have trouble finding teaching or mentoring opportunities in any part of the country.

Wherever you live, it’s likely that adult education classes are offered to people interested in learning new skills or pursuing new interests. If you have a special skill or knowledge you’d like to pass on to adults, check out adult education opportunities in your community.

Cities and towns with substantial immigrant communities are often looking for volunteers to help teach English as a Second Language. Public libraries are often a good place to learn about these and other informal teaching opportunities available in your town or neighborhood.

Perhaps you’d prefer to get involved at a local school, offering your services as a guest speaker or a volunteer to help with after-school activities or field trips. Or maybe you’d like to entertain youngsters with stories in the school library or the classroom, or even organize a school club to help pass down a special skill of yours.

If you prefer a one-on-one situation, you might consider mentoring or tutoring a grandchild or a child in your neighborhood. You can be the difference between a D or F and an A on that child’s next report card—and, more important, the difference between long-term mediocrity or even failure and long-term success.


And consider more than your living space when you do so. Don’t fall victim to clutter and the stress it can bring. You don’t need to keep every item you’ve accumulated over the past six or seven decades. Chances are the number of people in your household has decreased in the last ten or twenty years. If that’s the case, it’s time to prioritize—to decide what’s worth keeping and what’s not. If you give away what you don’t need, other people can benefit from your downsizing just as much as you will. If your home is too big now, consider the benefits of a smaller place. If a van or station wagon is no longer practical, it may be time to replace it with something smaller. Retirement is a time for downsizing—with regard to home, objects, and even goals. It’s time to prioritize and to evaluate your needs in light of your present situation. If there’s something you don’t need that’s only likely to complicate your life, why not let it go?

If you find that retirement has become an excuse for taking longer than ever to get through dinner or to spend half the day sitting in front of the TV, try putting a couple of these tips into practice and see just how rewarding it can be to stay active throughout your golden years!

Enjoy your active retirement—and let MedicareMall find the senior health plan that’s best designed for what you want to get out of retirement!

How do you like to balance activity and leisure? Share a comment below.

How Do I Stay Active?© 2012

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