Tips For Staying Active And Engaged This Holiday Season

Megan Ray  |  December 8, 2015
Holiday activities are great for seniors looking to stay active.
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Staying physically and mentally fit is important year-round for older adults to stay sharp and feel their best. The holidays offer a number of fun and festive opportunities to get out and get active while celebrating the spirit of the season.

Between shopping and visiting friends and family, the end of the year is a great time for seniors to get out and about. Likewise, there are a number of ways seniors can stay busy during the holidays, even if the weather isn't cooperating. Home Care Assistance reported that seniors who are active are generally more happy and healthy. 

Shopping
Heading out to a shopping center or mall to cross some names off your list may be more of an exercise than you might think. Although finishing your holiday shopping may not entail breaking a sweat, there can still be considerable health benefits. 

A trip to the mall often results in a fair amount of walking. Even at a leisurely pace, walking can burn anywhere from 120 to 150 calories per half hour, according to the National Institutes of Health. Even moderate exercise is great for older adults because it keeps muscles strong and improves balance. For that reason, holiday shopping can actually be a good exercise for any able-bodied senior.

For some older adults, however, the holidays aren't about crowded malls and store-bought presents. Making a homemade gift or craft is also a good way to stay active and spread holiday cheer.

Crafts
Home Care Assistance stated that activities like knitting or crocheting are excellent for older adults, especially seniors in assisted living facilities. These can be done in a group as a social event or alone as a personal project. Either way, knit or crocheted clothes and goods are wonderful gifts for the holidays, and the act of making them is beneficial as well.

Working on a project or craft is great for maintaining dexterity, and Health Care Assistance reported that activities like knitting stimulate the mind as well as reduce stress. That means that making a loved one a homemade present can be rewarding from start to finish. 

Socializing
The holidays are a wonderful time to visit friends and loved ones, and doing so has benefits for the mind and body. Getting up and traveling, even if it's only a short distance, is important for staying limber, and according to Health Care Assistance, social activity lowers stress, improves a sense of independence and is important for emotional support. Seniors especially benefit from holiday cards and visits around the holidays.

In the same way that knitting or crocheting can provide benefits for older adults, simple activities like catching up or playing a board game keep the mind sharp. As well as boosting cognitive function, these sorts of games or pastimes are great for staying active and having fun. Social events for seniors celebrating the season are great as well.

Holiday food
Health Care Assistance reported that although holiday snacks and treats can be tempting, the season also offers healthy foods. Lean meats like turkey are enjoyed during the holidays, and sweets like dark chocolate or fresh fruits can be enjoyed without too much guilt. Cooking and baking is another great way to celebrate the season and can be a bit of an exercise as well. Harvard reported that just half an hour in the kitchen can burn between 75 and 100 calories. 

According to Eating Well, holiday favorites like eggnog or hot chocolate may provide some health benefits as well. Just one serving of eggnog is loaded with protein and calcium. Likewise, hot chocolate also comes packed with calcium and protein, and natural hot cocoa recipes are full of antioxidants.


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