Many people have a prescription for long-lasting health and well-being. It goes like this: Stay physically active, challenge your mind, and stay involved with others. Studies show that people who exercise their body and mind with hobbies, classes, and other social and intellectual interests live longer. They are also less likely to have minor depression.
Here are some activities to keep you in top form:
Maintain your brain. Like a muscle, your brain grows when you use it and weakens when you neglect it. Explore a subject that has always interested you. This could be a foreign language, creative writing, or botany. Or, play chess or bridge with friends on a regular basis. Variety keeps your days interesting and your mind sharp.
Get online. Email makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family. And with online bulletin boards and "chat rooms," you can connect with others who share your interests. Some national Internet service providers offer information on hobbies, health, and money management, among many other topics. There are also many local Internet service providers. Check your local library for more information. Find out if it has computers with Internet access. Use the Internet to expand your activities, not take the place of face-to-face activities.
Keep moving. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. This helps keep your heart fit, your arteries open, your bones strong, and your brain clear. Do both aerobic and strength training exercises. For a change of pace, try ballroom dancing, water aerobics, or hiking. Talk with your doctor before you begin any exercise program. For exercise ideas, you can refer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services brochure, Be Active Your Way: A Guide for Adult. English and Spanish versions are available.
Volunteer. People who volunteer say that they make new friends as well as help others. There are plenty of places that could use your help. Start with your local hospital, school, community center, or place of worship.
The choices are many, and the benefits are excellent. And another thing about this prescription for health: It never runs out.