Updated: Sep 27, 2019
It’s no secret that life changes as we age; however, these changes don’t have to be negative.
The International Council on Active Aging founded Active Aging Week (October 1, 2019 to October 7, 2019) to change public perception on aging from something to be dreaded into something to be celebrated. Contrary to societal messages, life does not diminish with age and, in fact, can become even more fulfilling than ever before. This annual week encourages people to consider aging as a positive process and to participate in leading healthier, fuller lifestyles- one step at a time.
This week, focus on the ways you can enrich your life as a whole, through physical health, emotional well-being and social relationships. Here are some ways you can be proactive about improving your health this season within the beautiful St. Louis area.
Whether going to the gym or simply going for a walk, physical activity is essential to achieving and maintaining optimal health. In addition to physical strength, the benefits of exercise include improved cognitive performance, as well as restful sleep. If you’re intimidated by the idea of exercise, start small and get creative. As little as 10 minutes of consistent, daily exercise can make a positive difference in your health.
STL Active aging idea: Enjoy a lively walk around the Saint Louis Zoo during Zootober Fest, the zoo’s version of the popular German festival. With many exotic animals and a range of German treats like beer, bratwursts and pretzels, there’s enough family fun for everyone, from grandkids to grandparents!
What you eat on a day-to-day basis plays a significant part in your health- whether good or bad. Just like regularly eating fast food can lead to serious health conditions, the daily consumption of foods that are good for you can cause substantial health improvements like a boost in energy and even disease prevention. Watching what you eat doesn’t necessarily mean giving up all the foods you love - it simply means being mindful of food intake and not overindulging in the foods that can be harmful to your health.
STL Active aging idea: Stop by the Best of Missouri Market to pick up freshly made foods from over 120 vendors, as well as flowers and handmade items. Enjoy your foods with loved ones at the fair, which is held outdoors under tents (rain or shine)!
Although it is not abnormal for cognitive function to slow with age, research has suggested regular cognitive stimulation can slow this natural decline. For older adults, maintaining the mind can come in the form of reading library books, taking dance classes, attending trivia nights with friends or even learning something new.
STL active aging idea: Chess is one of the most cognitively stimulating games and St. Louis happens to be home of the World Chess Hall of Fame. Visit their exhibition, US Chess: 80 Years - Promoting the Royal Game in America, which runs until October 27th, 2019. Visitors are bound to learn something new after taking in exclusive artifacts, photos, audio clips and interviews about the sport.
Loneliness and isolation are things both elders and their caregivers may experience due to a variety of reasons like health issues, retirement, or the loss of a spouse. It is necessary to take emotional health seriously by making time for regular social interaction throughout the week.
STL active aging idea: Take a step into the past with a visit to the St. Louis Renaissance Festival. The whole family can enjoy an outing full of history and adventure in the form of period entertainment like blacksmithing and woodworking demos, magic and music performances, and shopping for “artifacts” throughout the village. This experience offers history, adventure and fun for family, friends, and other loved ones.
Despite only being a week long, Active Aging Week is intended to inspire people to make changes that have long term effects. Though there are countless St. Louis-area activities to this participate in this weekend in particular, these creative ideas can be incorporated into your life all-year-round. Overall, one of the most important things you can do is shift your perspective on age as a positive thing to be embraced, not negatively anticipated.