The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

It’s active aging week in Canada and this year’s theme is “Discover your Community.” Active aging events are planned locally which allows organizers in each community the ability to decide what they would like to do.  Events are free for participants and are intended to be fun and educational, with a no-pressure atmosphere.

The idea is based around what successful aging is – it’s about engaging in a more active, more varied lifestyle regardless of your age or circumstances. There are many opportunities for everyone to get involved including senior centres, retirement communities, fitness instructors and physical or occupational therapists. Activities don’t need to cost a lot of money, all you really need is some initiative, inspiration and creativity.

Of course, planning any activity involves knowing the various capabilities of the participants. Below are some ideas for planning your event:

Low impact activities:

  1. Create a scavenger hunt – The focus of the scavenger hunt doesn’t have to be the traditional “whomever finishes first wins”, instead have the focus be on exploration and enjoying the little things.
  2. Plan a walk around the community. Have it mapped out and encourage people to partner up – walking is always more fun with a buddy.
  3. Organize an exercise class that focuses on building balance, strength and mobility. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that can be helpful for coming up with exercises that can be easily adapted to suit all abilities.
  4. Get some people together to try different sport such as: swimming, kayaking, pickleball, golf, cycling, cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
  5. Don’t be afraid to include activities that help you learn a new skill: join creative writing class, a cooking class, try gardening or get a group together and go fishing.

Moderate to High impact activities:

  1. Dance classes can vary from low to high levels of activity. Ballroom dancing, Zumba, or Swing are just a few suggestions.
  2. Plyometric exercises – also known as jump training are intended to mimic the movements needed for specific sports such as skiing, tennis, and basketball. They are specifically designed to increase explosiveness and power. These can be done in a group or individually and should be done slowly at first with the intensity increased gradually.
  3. Circuit weight training, Kettlebells, power lifting or Cross fit techniques encourage a full body work out that employs a full range of motion. Try not to shrug these off as a young person’s activity – training with weights is the best way to maintain muscle mass in your later years. If you are unsure about trying it out as a newbie, a good personal trainer can make a huge difference.
  4. Tennis is a great activity that will work your whole body and provides opportunities for socializing after a game.
  5. Hiking intensity can vary depending on the difficulty of the trail. It’s a great activity for getting a group together and enjoying the scenery, especially at this time of year.

The bottom line is – do something fun! Use this week as a opportunity to re-commit to a old hobby or try a new one. Staying physically and mentally active leads to better overall health, improves mood and brain health, and can help you connect with friends, family and community.

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Chodzko-Zajko W, Schwingel A. Transnational Strategies for the Promotion of Physical Activity and Active Aging: The World Health Organization Model of Consensus Building in International Public Health. Quest. February 2009;61(1):25-38. Fun activities from Active Aging Week. Functional U. July 2009;7(4):10-15.
2. Kruger J. Guidelines for physical activity: pointers for active-aging professionals. Journal On Active Aging. January 2010;9(1):34-39.
3. Park C, Chodzko-Zajko W, Rolfe C, et al. A New AGE of physical activity: creating outdoor spaces that promote active aging. Journal On Active Aging. September 2005;4(5):22-24;26;28.
4. PROGRAMS REACH OUT TO OLDER ADULTS. Fitness Management. February 2005;21(2):16.