5 Ways to Make Your 2021 Vibrant and Active

in Independent Living

Written by PARC Retirement Living

A new year marks a fresh start. If big lofty resolutions seem too daunting to accomplish (afterall, statistics tell us that we’re bound to abandon our resolutions by month’s end anyway), we challenge you to set small and simple intentions instead.

Intentions can act like a mantra or constant reminder about how you want to live your life. Leading a life with purpose and intention makes you happier, more fulfilled and positive. And, couldn’t we all use more of that in our life? Here are 5 ways to make 2021 your most vibrant and active year yet!

Resident doing meditation


1. Meditate

Science is showing that regular meditation can improve our health as we get older and can show a significant improvement on attention, memory and verbal fluency. Studies also found that meditation can positively impact insomnia, anxiety, and heart health. And the best part is, meditation is simple to do and easy to start.

If you’re skeptical, don’t be. Seniors like Westerleigh PARC resident, Bette have long realized the profound benefits of meditation. It’s one activity that has been part of her routine for the last 40 years. In fact, she started a healing circle for a group of residents to meditate and practice mindfulness together. Bette says that “meditation is just a wonderful way to relax and calm yourself down. It really does make a huge difference.”

To practice meditation, the New York Times has a fantastic meditation guide to help you get started. If you’re looking for more of a guided practice, try an app like HeadSpace or Calm which leads you with daily meditation and mindfulness exercises that are as short as 1 minute to as long as 20 minutes or more. Both apps offer free trial periods and turn into paid subscriptions after.

According to HeadSpace, you can realize the benefits of meditation by practicing at least 3 times a week. Meditation and mindfulness can take many other forms as well such as going for a walk, listening to music or nature sounds and journal writing. Whatever you choose, routinely take time for yourself to be mindful and present with what you’re doing.

Summerhill PARC residents enjoying their meal

2. Eat Well

No, we’re not talking about detoxes and diets that often come to mind at this time of year to offset indulgent holiday eating. We’re talking about making an intention to eat well by fueling your body with healthy, nutrient-dense foods, made with real ingredients that you can pronounce. Or, as famed author Michael Pollan sensibly stated: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Related: Eating well is part of living well. Explore PARC SMART menu options as part of the Independent Living+ program.

Fitness class with residents

3. Move your body

We’ve long been told the health benefits of exercise on the body and mind. Whether you enjoy walking, dancing or aerobics–keep moving. Regular exercise is important for staying strong, independent and preventing falls. And when you exercise in a group, the results are even better because your peers keep you motivated, accountable and socially connected.

Many PARC Retirement Living residents enjoy the daily benefits of working out together in a variety of classes including chair Yoga, strength training and Tai Chi. We’re constantly amazed at how strong and active our residents become by participating in a variety of PARC’s fitness programs.

Resident water color painting

4. Pursue a new hobby

Knitting, crafting, singing, playing an instrument, learning a new language. Whatever interests you, make this the year that you say ‘yes’ to doing something you’ve always wanted to do. Your brain will thank you for it. According to Harvard Health, the human brain has a high potential for neuroplasticity, which is the ability for the brain to form new neural connections throughout a lifetime. It’s important for us to challenge our brain by learning new skills and enjoying new experiences so that we may create new neural connections that protect the brain and keep it resilient from cognitive decline.

Related: Cedar Springs PARC Resident Discovers the Joy of Painting in her 80s

Resident socializing in coffee shop

5. Indulge in new experiences

Set an intention to have a new experience weekly or monthly. This experience can be as simple as playing tourist in a nearby town or city you’ve never explored, dining at a new restaurant or trying something unusual like pottery, an escape room or go-karting. New experiences can activate the brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine, an important neurotransmitter that plays a key role in motivation, productivity and focus. Many independent living communities provide a variety of ways for residents to indulge in new experiences with regularly planned outings to nearby points of interests, community events, galleries and museums. PARC residents enjoy the convenience of driver service and the thrill of group bus trips to play tourist in their own city. Check out our Facebook page to see what new adventures PARC residents are experiencing!