Staying Active and Healthy in Charleston: Retirement Addition

Reading time 5 minutes

Around 45% of retirees are considered sedentary despite the essential benefits of being active in retirement.1 Staying physically and mentally active can help you remain sharp, avoid serious injury, mitigate the risk of isolation or depression, and ward off diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

While you may not be comfortable lifting barbells or running marathons, there are plenty of fun, safe ways to get your steps in and build endurance—especially in a beautiful and warm city like Charleston.

Here are ten top tips for staying active and healthy in Charleston.

Tip #1: Explore Scenic Walking Trails

Charleston has no shortage of beautiful and inviting walking trails—many located right on the scenic waterfront. Or, if you’re looking for something more adventurous, you’ll find no shortage of advanced hiking trails either.

We recommend checking out:

The Charm of Waterfront Park

A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, Charleston’s idyllic Waterfront Park offers viewing spots overlooking the Charleston Harbor and Cooper River. Whether you want to take your partner or furry friend (or both!), you’ll have over 10 acres of spacious grass and beautiful landscaping. 

James Island County Park Trails

Boasting five miles of paved and unpaved trails, James Island County Park is an excellent option for those interested in hiking, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more.

In addition, this park offers:

  • Saltwater fishing and crabbing
  • A dog park
  • Volleyball court
  • Campground with vacation cottages
  • A climbing wall
  • Waterpark
  • Disc golf course
  • Picnic spots

No matter your fitness level, you’ll find plenty of things to do at this beautiful park just 15 minutes outside the city.

Tip #2: Take a Senior-Friendly Fitness Class or Program

If you’d rather join a class and meet new people, fitness classes and programs are a great alternative to working out alone.

Low-Impact Exercise Classes

While many people equate fitness with high-impact exercises or heavy weights, no rule says you can’t enjoy a slower-speed, low-impact class that keeps you engaged and happy.

Find suitable options in your local community centers, gyms, and yoga studios. Exercises like yoga, pilates, and Tai Chi are excellent options to build your balance, keep you flexible, and put your mind in a more meditative state.

Group Fitness for Social Connection

Check out what clubs, groups, or fitness events are happening in your city. Around holidays, you may find opportunities to walk in a 5K race with friends. You can also find walking and cycling groups (like Coastal Cyclists) around the city.

Tip #4: Enjoy Wellness Activities on the Water

As a city on the waterfront, it should come as no surprise that water activities are especially popular with Charleston residents, including many retirees.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

You’ll have no problem renting boats, kayaks, or paddleboards to explore Charleston’s waterways. Many places even offer guided boat tours, which will provide you with more historical information and insights. This may be a great option if you’re new to the city and relatively unfamiliar with the waterways.

Or, if you prefer to stay on land, combine exercise with serenity by enjoying a yoga class right on the waterfront.

Tip #5: Try Gardening and Other Outdoor Hobbies

Even just getting out of the house and counting your steps can be a significant step toward a more active lifestyle. If you’re not up for a rigorous activity, there are still plenty of ways to get moving while connecting with nature in Charleston.

The Joy of Community Gardens

On a scale from 3 to 10, Charleston is a USDA Hardiness Zone 8b-9a—meaning its weather is ideal for planting many different types of plants, produce, and flowers. This is a great place to establish a beautiful and productive garden, from tropical fruit trees to bright-colored perennials.

If you don’t have the space to start one at home, look for opportunities to volunteer at local community gardens or botanical clubs.

Birdwatching and Nature Observation

We mentioned James Island County Park and Waterfront Park, prime birdwatching spots for many local bird species.

Other popular spots include:

  • West Ashley Greenway
  • Charles Town Landing State Historic Site Trail
  • Low Battery Trail
  • Wannamaker County Park Loop

Tip #6: Prioritize Nutritional Wellness in Retirement

Healthy eating habits are just as (if not more) important than getting enough physical activity. Make positive eating choices through retirement to improve longevity and minimize the risk of certain diseases or health concerns.

Explore Farmers’ Markets

Charleston needs fresh, local produce and artisanal goods (like baked bread, pastries, jams, jellies, and more). Support local farmers while enjoying organic, fresh produce grown locally.

Healthy Cooking Classes

If you’re relatively new to cooking for yourself or would like to try out new recipes, find a culinary workshop or cooking class that piques your interest. Cooking classes often offer a range of cooking styles, including those focused on incorporating local ingredients into healthy dishes.

Tip #7: Find Your Mind-Body Connection

There are so many ways to improve your mind-body connection, so you’ll have no shortage of fun and relaxing activities.

Meditation and Mindfulness Workshops

Along with yoga and Tai Chi, you may want to look into meditation classes, massages, Reiki, or anything else that might help you slow down and relax (especially if you’re just transitioning out of work and into the beginning of retirement).

Cultural and Artistic Pursuits

If you are passionate about art and/or history, check out the city’s many museums, historical sites, art galleries, and botanical gardens.

Or, if you’d instead do a hands-on activity, find a local art class or workshop to participate in. This could include painting, sculpting, stained glass making, and more.

Tip #8: Join a Senior Sports League and Other Outdoor Activities 

Whether you were a skilled athlete in your younger years or interested in trying something new, don’t hesitate to join a recreational sports league or other athletic association.

Golfing Opportunities

Golf combines the best of both worlds—a low-impact opportunity to get moving and a relaxing and quiet time to enjoy your surroundings.

Most golf courses are made to enable players of all skill levels to play and practice. You may even want to consider joining a senior golf league or gathering a group of friends to hit the course weekly.

Bocce Ball and Lawn Bowling

You may want to check out other great, low-impact sports like bocce ball and lawn bowling. Both are ideal for socializing, and you can usually find opportunities to play at local clubs and recreational facilities.

Tip #9: Connect with the Community

Around Charleston, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, grow your social group, and get involved in your community.

Volunteer Opportunities for Retirees

From food shelters to river cleanups, museums, and animal rescues, get involved in whatever organization most aligns with your values and interests. Much of what makes Charleston a wonderful place to live is the numerous ways residents get involved in philanthropy and community causes.

Senior Social Clubs and Events

With just a quick search online or at your local recreation center, you’ll find various opportunities to join senior-focused clubs, which enable you to forge friendships and connect with other community members.

Tip #10: Find Wellness Resources and Support

Unfortunately, as you age, your chance of experiencing a medical emergency will rise. Take some time now to understand what local health services are available to you and your partner. 

Local Health Services for Retirees 

Look for local senior health clinics or support centers that can provide valuable, healthcare-related resources. If you’re on Medicare, find out which doctors and hospitals are in-network and what gaps in coverage you may need to address.

Moving to Charleston in Retirement?

Charleston is one of the best cities in the country to spend your retirement in. It has a little bit of everything for retirees—art, culture, community, nature, cuisine, and more. As you adjust to your new home, don’t forget to prioritize your health and wellness by getting out and moving at your own pace.

If you’d like to talk more about taking care of your health and wealth in retirement, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.


1Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Retirement: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

About Us

Partners in Financial Planning provides tax-focused, comprehensive, fee-only financial planning and investment management services. With locations in Salem, Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina, our team is well-equipped to serve clients both locally and nationally with over 100 years of combined experience and knowledge in financial services.

To learn more, visit