All the advances in medicine and technology have created a dramatic increase in life expectancy. People are living longer than ever, including much more years in retirement. We all hope for a happy and healthy retirement, but unfortunately, getting older comes with concerns over health.
Making an active effort to stay healthy will not only allow you to live longer but will increase your chances of having a more fulfilling and energetic retirement doing the things you love.
So how do you keep yourself fit for a healthy retirement? The best advice is to start planning for it today.
In this article, I will look at the problems related to physical, mental, and emotional health and find ways to improve each.
Find time for physical activity
Whether you are planning to retire in a few years or already retired, get moving.
We all know that exercising is important. Studies have consistently confirmed that regular exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even slows down the development of dementia. So, if you want to have a healthy and active retirement, then find time for regular exercise.
Many experts argue over how much exercising is healthy. But everyone agrees that some moderate exercise is better than none. Whether it is aerobics, lifting weights and doing sit-ups, or practicing yoga and gardening, we should all get engaged in some moderate physical activity.
The important part is to find the activity you like so you will keep doing it regularly.
Do not wait until you retire or do not wait until your health starts to decline. Choose something you would enjoy and make it part of your daily routine.
Many books and YouTube videos can help you to do a workout from the comforts of your home.
Here is my favorite home workout on YouTube. It only takes me 30 minutes to follow the workout playlist any time I want.
If you prefer to exercise with other people, you can join a gym or take group fitness classes. But if you do not want to spend extra money on expensive personal trainers or gym membership, walking, running, or cycling outdoor will be more than enough to stay in good physical shape for years.
Explore your local walking and jogging trails. Those 30 minutes a day you need to spend walking can be done in a local park or greenway path. Leave your car at home and walk or bike to the local store, bank, or post office. Gardening or decluttering are also easy ways to keep you active and fit.
Have a healthy diet
As you age you are more likely to have problems with health linked to nutrition. That is why a healthy diet is more important than ever.
Eating healthy is similar to exercising every day. And it works better if you plan for it. Plan your meals so you will not end up snacking up on ice cream before dinner because you are hungry.
If you want to eat a healthy diet avoid too many saturated fats in meat and dairy. Healthy people usually restrict the amount of sugar and salt in their diets, and they drink lots of water and tea.
According to various studies, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, and cancer. So instead of eating fast food, you should choose to eat fresh food. For people over age 65, it is recommended to have five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
For me, the Mediterranean diet works as a great inspiration. People in the Mediterranean region live longer because they follow a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Their diet is low on animal products, and they prefer to cook fresh fish.
You need to make sure that you are always working on how to improve your diet by choosing foods that are good for you and cutting down on packaged food. Do not forget to shop smart and always read food labels to avoid foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat.
I try to eat healthy every day and plan all our meals. I like to have a healthy breakfast – orange juice, oatmeal, fruit, and green tea. I try to eat less at dinner because I watch my calories and do not want to gain extra weight. I prefer to eat meat or fish during lunch. And I serve all our meals with at least one green vegetable or salad.
And the main thing, I try to go easy on sugar (chocolate and ice cream are my weakness!) and drink plenty of water with lemon.
Learn new things
Keeping yourself fit in retirement is not only related to physical activity. In general, being fit means a combination of different factors including physical fitness and mental health. Staying sharp mentally is as crucial as staying physically fit.
When you are engaged in physical activities you focus on your muscle strength training. The same kind of training should go for brain activity. To stay mentally fit you need to challenge your brain with various exercises.
One of the best ways to keep your mind young and active is by learning new things.
Here is a list of ideas:
- Learn how to play a musical instrument
- Start (or join) a book club
- Learn how to paint
- Take a pottery class
- Learn how to be a photographer
- Take a cooking or baking class
- Write a poem
- Write and publish an e-book
- Learn new digital skills – open an Instagram or Twitter account.
I believe that keeping our minds sharp is an important part of prolonging the time we can enjoy in retirement.
Monitor your health
Many health issues are age-related.
Our body gets weaker as we age. Many people will experience aging issues such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, and more. That is why regular medical check-ups are a must.
You should visit your doctor regularly and do not skip any recommended health screenings and tests. If you are a woman, you need regular tests for breast and cervical cancers. If you are a man, your doctor should help you decide about a prostate cancer test.
Keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol level to avoid a heart attack or stroke.
Maintain an active social life
People who have plenty of friends and enjoy a close relationship with their families, typically live longer than people who are lonely.
When you retire, you do not just leave your job, you enter a new stage in life.
Leaving the workforce will reduce your social interaction with colleagues. Friends and neighbors might retire and move away. Death can take a spouse or close friend. Those are all sad life events because loneliness is linked to poor health and early death.
We all know that having a strong social support system helps us deal with stress.
It is important to stay involved and engaged in life, so you do not feel lonely. Being engaged in a community gives people a sense of purpose, security, and connection. It is important to have a reason to get up every morning, go out, and do things.
Find new purpose in life
If you are ready to leave the working world, think about how you will spend the 40 + hours a week you spent previously at your job.
The reality is that you may feel ready to retire, but on the other hand, you may feel nervous and doubtful.
What are you going to do with all that free time? One of the best things you can do is create a plan for your retirement.
You need to decide what will be important in your new life and how are you going to spend your days and weeks. The minute you say goodbye to coworkers you need to know what is next for you.
It is not a secret that when you feel like your life has a purpose and meaning, you will experience less stress. And with less stress comes fewer negative health effects.
Having a purpose in life makes people stay more physically active and more willing to take care of themselves.
Find hobbies to fill your days
I think everyone had some interests in life before they were forced to put them on a shelf during their working years. We spend our lives doing things that we have to do – career, kids, family. But retirement gives us a new opportunity to start over again.
Many retirees struggle to feel useful after they stop working which can negatively affect their health. Instead of being depressed and unhappy, refocus your energy on learning something new and more interesting than your previous job.
I believe that desire to travel the world is a big factor for people wanted to retire. Travel is important at any time in life. But travel in retirement gives you a new opportunity to explore the world, learn a new language, and use your social and communication skills.
Another big factor is a desire to complete a bucket list. Creating a bucket list is a helpful tool to set up your retirement goals or have a list of things you want to complete at least once in your life.
Work on your relationships
Retirement can be a challenging time for relationships. When you stop working you will leave most of your friends at work behind. Sadly, many will disappear from your everyday life the day you leave.
Growing older could be lonely unless you have support, love, and even friendship from your family.
Do you have a good relationship with your spouse if you are married? Do you stay connected to your children and their families? Do you spend enough time with your grandchildren?
There are many things to do together as a family. Go to the game or concert with your kids and grandkids. Consider a family vacation together. Spend all holidays and other celebration times together.
Do you stay connected with other parts of your family like your brothers or sisters? What effort do you make to stay in touch with them?
Unfortunately, many of us spend more time on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to stay informed and connected with former classmates or colleagues because they post often rather than spend time with people who are important to us.
I recently read that one of the greatest regrets of people who are getting closer to the end of their lives is that they didn’t spend enough time with their loved ones.
Life is short! Make sure that you spend enough time with the most important people in your life.
Taking care of yourself and making your physical, mental, and emotional health a top priority in retirement is the best gift you can give to yourself and those you love.
How do you keep yourself fit and healthy? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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