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When time is scarce, we may feel like we need to make choices. Do I spend my free time volunteering? Or should I work harder on getting fit?

Why not do both?

There are a number of ways that you can be active and volunteer at the same time. Here are a few ideas that will let you do good in a way that’s meaningful to you, even as you get moving, too!

Go the distance

Throughout the year, nonprofit organizations hole sports- and fitness-related fundraising events. Bike tours, 5K running or walking events, dance marathons, golf benefits, or other events offer a great way to get moving while you give back. If you’re volunteering to work at the event, why not participate, too?

If that’s not your cup of tea, consider starting a walking group in your neighborhood. It could be a great way to help older adults, new moms, or others who may feel socially isolated get the contact—and the fresh air—they need. The AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit and its accompanying worksheets can help you and your neighbors evaluate the safety of the streets and sidewalks in your community — and then share with local leaders your findings about needed repairs and improvements.

Be a coach

Love sports? Get involved with a team as a coach or assistant coach. From local youth teams to universities who need to beef up their coaching staffs, there are many opportunities to lead a team as a volunteer coach. Higher-level positions may require some previous experience as a coach, and you may need to pass a background check if you’re working with children. But being out on the field, pitch, or court will give you opportunities to move as you coach the sport you love.

Organize a cleanup

Parks, beaches, lakes, rivers could all use a good clean up from time to time. You can either work with an existing nonprofit, such as a gardening or community group, or organize a cleanup with friends and neighbors. You’ll spend the day walking and stretching—and know that you made your community better, too.

Go to the dogs

Many local animal shelters have volunteer opportunities that let you learn about the animals and help facilitate their care. They often need help socializing the animals, too. You may be able to walk dogs or play with cats. For a whole host of opportunities, head to and help with everything from dog walking, to community outreach, to working with wildlife experts in a sanctuary. Or simply volunteer to help a friend who’s recovering from illness or busy by walking their dog.

Build a future

Another way to get moving while you help a family build a future is to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. This well-known organization uses volunteers to build homes for families in need. The work can be rigorous, so be sure to understand what’s involved before you sign up.

If that’s not quite right for you, consider making your community more livable. Use tools like the AARP Livability Index to assess some of your community’s strengths. Take the time to walk around your neighborhood and make note of areas that could use improvement.

To find other opportunities to be active while volunteering, visit

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