For most people, retiring is a big decision that involves many conflicting emotions. On the one hand, it can feel extremely gratifying. On the other hand, for some people, it’s hard to imagine how they will keep busy during retirement. Much previous research shows that senior activity, including keeping both physically and mentally active, is very important for continued health and longevity.

A new study, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences by researchers at Concordia University in Quebec, found that brain power was boosted after retirement in individuals who did a variety of cognitive tasks and activities.

According to principle researcher Larry Baer, this research is important because it can reveal how community health workers and others can help better support retirees’ active lives well into retirement.

“This can be done by focusing on getting people to intensify their engagement in a variety of cognitive activities even if they have lower levels of motivation to do so,” Baer said.

Researchers found that the key to good health and staying active was variety. There are several great ways to stay active well into your retirement, many of them affordable, easily accessible and fun:

  • Travel to new places, whether that’s a nearby city you’ve never been to or a walk in a park you haven’t been to in years. A change of scenery is good for your mind and staying active is good for overall health.
  • Cook a new recipe with your spouse, grandkids or friends and have a tasting party afterward.
  • Recruit a friend to learn something new with you, such as taking an art or yoga class, or learning a new craft.
  • Volunteer for a cause you love with a great organization. Whether you’re passionate about the environment, animal rights or education in your community, there are many ways that you can be involved that fit into you schedule and the level of activity and commitment you’re able to pursue.
  • Help your grandchild or another young child learn to read and write his or her first words. It’s amazing to watch someone learn something new and to know you’re making a difference.
  • When you’re at the hair salon, a doctors appointment or other places where you often have to wait, bring along reading material or crossword puzzles if you enjoy these things.
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