I’ve recently been commissioned by Bathing Solutions to write about my suggestions for keeping active for the over 55s. I’m someone who is lucky enough to have friends that between them cover the full age spectrum from early 20s up to late 80s, and as a result I think I’ve got a pretty good understanding of the variety of different ways that people can remain active throughout life.
My initial thoughts sprang to things that people can do to get them outside their home and be active both physically and mentally with other people. But at the same time staying active inside your own home is equally important, possibly even more so if you happen to live alone.
Getting out of your home
Nowadays we are inundated with opportunities for people to get involved in a whole variety of different things, both in the day time and in the evenings.
For those of you that want to remain mentally and physically active it is worth looking at the University of the Third Age, also known as the U3A. All across the UK there are local groups that run sessions that cover interests ranging from gardening and classical music to investments and art. They organise speakers and visits and members also have the opportunity to get involved in running the special interest groups themselves. The U3A prides itself in being an informal, co-operative, volunteer-led organisation which embraces everyone of all backgrounds, religions and cultures. The people I know that are members get a huge amount out of their involvement in it.
If you prefer doing something with just men or women then it is worth looking at either the Women’s Institute or the network of Men in Sheds that is springing up across the country.
The Women’s Institute
The WI is a national institution here in the UK, but many people don’t see beyond its stereotypical image of “jam and Jerusalem”. The truth is that the modern WI is full of women of all ages and different WIs across the country cater to all different tastes and activity levels. Some WIs meet in the day time and some in the evening. Some have programmes of talks, others run workshop style sessions instead. As well as monthly meetings there can be extra groups covering everything from curry and cocktail nights to sewing circles. My personal WI experiences are in credibly varied.
Men in Sheds
For men wanting something similar it is worth searching for your local Men in Sheds or Men’s Sheds group. Some of these fit under the Men’s Sheds Association, others are supported by local councils or Age UK groups. However they are formed the aim is the same. To bring groups of men together to help fight against the loneliness and isolation that some men feel and help their physical and mental well-being. Activities can range from just chatting over a cuppa, through to more traditional “shed work” or making things for a children’s playgroup or even entering a team in Channel 5’s Great Model Railway Challenge.
If you’re wanting to do something that gives back to society then the range of volunteering opportunities across the country is vast. So many places are looking for people to give up their time and skills and if you want to you can find yourself doing everything from reading with school children through to looking after Guide Dog puppies. Volunteers can help by working at local food banks, clearing litter from community run nature reserves and running the accounts for a local playgroup. They can act as school governors, youth workers or as visitors to help new parents or people in prison. A simple online search for volunteering opportunities in your area is bound to bring up plenty of opportunities, and local libraries and council offices often hold lists of charities and other volunteer groups that are wanting help.
Remaining active at home
It’s all well and good being active when you’re out of the house, but what happens once you get back home and shut your front door behind you at the end of a busy day? If you’ve had a day learning new things at the U3A, meeting different people at the WI and a volunteer stint at a local school you’ll probably be ready to put your feet up by the time you get home.
As our lives change so do our homes, even if some of the changes are small and subtle. It may just be how you arrange your living room furniture so that you can get up from your chair a bit more easily, or can just reach your cup of tea or glass of wine whilst watching the TV in an evening without having to twist strangely. Is it time to treat yourself to a new sofa or armchair that’s more comfortable than the one you currently have?
It could be that you want to make some modifications to your kitchen so that you no longer have to bend right down to get things out of the oven, or maybe your bathroom would be better with a walk-in shower rather than having to climb up into the bath every morning?
Our homes are the places that we all go to relax and feel safe, and if you’re going to be super active outside the home then you want it to be as comfortable as you possibly can.
Disclaimer: This post was written in conjunction with Bathing Solutions. All opinions remain my own.