Staying socially and physically active as you age

Couple hiking in forest

As you age, it is important to stay socially active as well as physically active. However, the older you get, the fewer opportunities you have for socialization and your desire to stay physically fit often decreases.

Several studies have shown seniors who regularly engage in social activities have lower levels of loneliness, depression, and cognitive decline. Increased socialization can also have a significant effect on physical health-lowering blood pressure and risk for developing chronic disease while boosting your immune system.

While an active lifestyle is important for health and happiness, adding regular exercise can help you achieve a higher quality of life. Regular exercise is shown to lessen the pain associated with arthritis, improve strength and balance, improve sleep, and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. If you exercise with friends or in group classes, you combine the best of both worlds.

Remaining active both socially and physically, creates a sense of belonging and makes you feel more connected to the world.


Anne E. Holladay, CNHA, MHA, FACHCA


Today, more people live longer than any other time in history. To stay healthy as you age and live your best life, follow these seven tips:

1. Take trips with friends. If you enjoy traveling find a local travel agent who plans group tours or travel with a friend.

2. Plan regular coffee dates. Catching up with family and friends can be as easy as meeting at a local coffee shop once a month.

3. Join a gym or attend an exercise class. When you can combine exercise and socialization, it is a win-win situation.

4. Nurture your existing social networks. It is important to make sure you regularly engage with your current social networks, including family, friends, church, and senior centers.

5. Join local clubs. You can check your local senior center for hobby clubs including a book club, garden club, and writing club.

6. Volunteer in your community. Many organizations need volunteers, including hospitals, libraries, or your local historical society.

7. Go back to work. Find a part-time job doing something you love.

Depending on your circumstances, you may find it difficult to socialize or stay active. Senior living may be an option for you. It allows you to live surrounded by people in a similar situation. Senior living facilities often have a busy calendar of social events to keep you engaged and energized, and a common dining room so you can eat with other residents and develop new friendships.

It is a myth that growing older means you aren’t going to feel good anymore. Sure, you will go through physical changes, but if you care for your body and your mind you can enjoy life to the fullest. And, it’s never too late to start making friends.


Anne E. Holladay is the vice president for operations, UPMC Senior Communities. Anne is a certified nursing home administrator and has regional responsibility for Senior Communities facilities in northcentral Pa. For more information on UPMC Senior Communities, please call 570-893-5151.


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