Being socially active is important at any age. It can become more difficult to stay social as you get older, however studies have shown that not only is it enjoyable, but it’s good for your physical and mental health. At the top of these benefits is reduced blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular problems. It can also help to reduce arthritis and even boost the immune system through improved nutrition, as we often eat more in a social setting.
Studies show that social isolation is a risk factor for depression and anxiety. Mental health benefits of being socially active include preventing and reducing the severity of these conditions. Those who are socially active often have a better support system and self-esteem, which results in an increased sense of belonging and connectedness.
We’ve listed some simple ways for you or a loved one to stay socially active and enjoy the benefits of improved physical and mental health.
Join a book club
There are many ways to enjoy your favourite hobbies in a social setting, rather than by yourself. Why not join a book club? You can choose how often you’d like to attend and discuss the latest novel you read.
No matter what your fitness level is, whether it’s your first time or you’ve been playing for your whole life, there’s a sport for everyone. Try joining your local sporting club, or set up a weekly activity with friends. Some of the sports that can be enjoyed all year-round and by anyone are below.
- Tennis - play on a weeknight with friends or competitively on the weekend. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor courts available.
- Golf - there will always be someone to talk to at the clubhouse and who is a similar skill level to play with.
- Lawn bowls - a great team sport that doesn’t take a toll on your body.
- Croquet - a sport that’s mentally challenging and also easy on your body.
- Dancing - there are venues that provide dance lessons for any age and style of dance. You could even try playing music and dancing at home every so often. Dancing is fun, plus it helps to improve balance and strength.
Get in touch with nature
Take advantage of the abundance of walking trails in Australia, whether it’s by the beach, in a national park or a rainforest. It’s a cheap, simple activity that almost anyone can do to some extent. Making it a family affair is a way to keep the whole family entertained, while providing the perfect opportunity to increase time spent with kids or grandkids. If you’ve never hiked before, start with short 30-minute hikes on a flat surface and remember to stay hydrated.
Information on how you or a loved one can stay socially active, a helpful resource is the Beyond Blue’s Connections matter booklet.