September is healthy aging month, and it’s a great time to take stock of your lifestyle and look for opportunities to make healthy improvements. Here are five fun ideas that you might want to incorporate into your routine.

Start Walking

Walking is an activity that almost everyone can participate in. If you have a dog, great! If not, maybe you can enlist a friend or neighbor to join you for a daily walk. Not only will you get a cardio workout, but the regular social engagement has been found to prolong life and enhance healthy aging. According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, past director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walking and other regular physical exercise are “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.” For more information about the benefits of walking, view this Wellness Tip or this article from Consulate Health Care.

Find your Inner artist

There are lots of ways you can engage in the arts. Whether it’s taking up a new musical instrument, signing up for a painting class, or taking a dance class, adding arts into your life has been proven to have positive effects on aging.  One study, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, showed that when older people become involved in culturally enriching programs, they experience a decline in depression, are less likely to fall, and pay fewer visits to the doctor. Dance in particular helps to improve balance, mobility, and strength. Artistic activities, like the ones mentioned above, have been linked to lowered blood pressure, reduced levels of stress hormones, and increased levels of the “happiness hormones” that are responsible for a runner’s high.

Cook with seasonal ingredients

Seasonal cooking is a healthy way to celebrate where you live and understand the seasons. It’s fun to chat with farmers at the market, and ask them the best way to prepare the produce you buy from them. We know that it is healthy to eat a wider range of fruits and vegetables, and this is a fun way to get it done. Be sure to consult the Consulate Family Cookbook when you search for recipes to use the treasures you find at the farmer’s market.

Read a book

In addition to the entertainment value, reading has been shown to slow the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When you read, you need to learn about new characters and keep track of details. Every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones. This helps for short-term memory recall.

Budget and spend wisely

According to the AARP, a budget is one of the most important tools you can use to manage your money and save for retirement. They provide this useful budgeting worksheet which you can use to plan for the future, and ensure that you have enough money to enjoy your golden years.