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Staying Active and Engaged for Good Health

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  • Written By: Jennifer Brauner
Staying Active and Engaged for Good Health

Healthy minds and bodies are important but even more so as we age. Being mentally and physically healthy leads to a better outlook on life. If we don’t take the time for self-care and focus on our overall well-being, depression can set in. When this happens, we lose our drive and motivation to be around others and stay active. Not being physically active can also lead to difficulty moving our bodies and performing everyday activities. Maintaining habits that promote balance and core strength are vital to prevent falls and foster independence, especially as we get older. Participating in exercise and movement classes can make a tremendous difference for seniors who want to maintain their physical and mental health. Light weight-bearing exercises, as well as chair yoga and Tai Chi classes, are good for balance, flexibility and also help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

You may ask yourself, should I spend my time being physically active or sharpening my brain? The answer is both. Our bodies need a balance of all these activities to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercising the brain is just as important as exercising the body. When seniors make decisions independently or perform a task alone, they exercise their brains. The mental stimulation from doing meaningful tasks independent of others helps keep the brain healthy.

Seniors who participate in activities such as educational classes and recreational programming enjoy a sense of accomplishment. They put themselves in a position where they continue to learn and have a platform for sharing their knowledge. They exercise their independence, feel productive and maintain their sense of purpose and self-worth, ultimately leading to better health. Individuals with a high sense of purpose live longer and experience mental and physical health benefits.

I spend my days talking to seniors about the benefits of mental, physical and social well-being. I encourage them to engage in activities that stimulate creative thoughts and ideas. I challenge them to move their bodies and participate in group exercise programs. I do this work because I know that being involved in something meaningful and fun while socializing with others can enhance a person’s life and ultimately help them maintain independence.

We must take preventive steps so our mental health does not decline. We need to consider taking up a new hobby, playing mind activities, moving our bodies and staying involved with family and friends.

It is never too late to learn a new hobby or enhance a skill one already enjoys.

Jennifer BraunerJennifer Brauner is the director of the Center for Senior Enrichment (CSE) and its Creative Aging program at Jewish Family and Children’s Service. For information about senior programming and fitness classes, visit or call 480-670-8073.

This article was originally published in the Jewish News.