by Jenni Hargrove

Finding balance in one’s life can be made easier through the use of mobile apps, keeping you informed and engaged but not tied to your computer.

The National Council of Aging (NCOA) suggests four major categories for “finding balance” in your local senior center:

Fitness, Friendship, Learning, and Purpose. We wanted to highlight some friendly mobile apps that offer a great deal in these four categories.

Fitness: One type of exercise that’s great for nearly everyone — young, old, athletic, injured — is yoga. Yoga is so versatile because there are a variety of poses/“asanas,” ranging from very easy to very difficult — which can all be held for various lengths of time. If you’re looking for a good place to start, Pocket Yoga is an inexpensive app that doesn’t even require Wi-Fi to use. The app allows you to choose the duration and difficulty of your yoga practice, has multi-angle views of each pose, and includes a pictorial dictionary that offers in-depth descriptions of how to properly assume each position. If you’re not ready to commit to such an active workout, try the Stretch Exercises app. It offers a comprehensive set of stretches you can practice, including descriptions and photos of how to perform each stretch properly. This app even allows you to find useful stretches based on the muscles in your body that regularly feel sore or stiff.

Friendship: Keeping in touch with your friends and family can be challenging when they’re located all over the country, or even in spots across the globe. Mobile devices are great for staying connected because you can download apps like “Words with Friends” that let you play familiar games with your loved ones across any distance.

30222413 - senior couple at home using smartphone

Learning: There are so many great apps to keep your mind sharp! Some people prefer games that improve focus, such as “Luminosity,” or the digital versions of traditional mind games, like the “New York Times Crossword Puzzles” app or “Sudoku” downloads. The “NPR” app is a great app which includes free podcasts about topics like psychology, current news and dozens of other topics. Another free learning app is “Good Reads,” which helps you track of every book you’ve read and discover new books based on your reading preferences.

Purpose: One of the most common health problems facing older adults, is depression, which stems from a lack of feeling purpose and connection. “Happier” is a helpful app that literally focuses on helping you feel happier. One aspect of this app challenges individuals to “collect” photos that make you happy by taking and saving images of pretty landscapes, great accomplishments, and random acts of kindness and adding captions to remind you of these positives in life.

Even though there are great mobile apps to help you find a personal fitness routine, deepen friendships, inspire learning, and develop purpose, there’s still a need for social engagement. Senior centers or lifelong learning centers fill a need for older adults by providing a sense of community. This community supports you by offering accountability for your fitness routine, a place to easily make new friends, and a roster full of classes, groups and programs to learn about new topics of interest. Most importantly, these community centers combat the depression that comes from living in isolation by providing a friendly, supportive environment for you to continue finding or defining your life purpose.

Why wait? Get involved in your community and engage your happy apps as soon as possible. Your happiness depends on it!