The importance of a healthy retirement
You can have all the money in the world or maybe you have designed yourself a great retirement portfolio. But if you don’t have your health in retirement how important is the money?
One of the most critical aspects of a successful retirement highlighted in many studies is the need for good physical and mental health. In order that those retirement years are fulfilling and rewarding.
In a study for Merrill Lynch called “Health and retirement: Planning for the great unknown” 81 % of those retires taking the survey said that the most important ingredient of a happy retirement was good health. Financial security came in at 51%
So, it could be argued that maintaining good physical and mental health may be just as important as money and good financial planning in retirement?
In the past people mainly retired when they could no longer work due to physical sickness or disability. Also In those days life expectancy following retirement was very short.
Nowadays in general people are retiring healthier than ever before with an increase in life expectancy unimaginable from half a century ago.
In the UK alone the average life expectancy for males has increased to 80 years and 83 years for females. You could of course exceed these averages and your retirement could last 20-30 years.
Would you therefore not want to give yourself the best chance to enjoy those years in a good state of wellness?
How it could go wrong
I have seen many people I have known over the years over the years who have retired and let themselves go. These previously physically and mentally active people when they retired reverted to a sedentary lifestyle.
Overeating, over drinking and too much sofa surfing led to a rapid decline in their wellness. Premature illness and disease followed for some of them.
One retired friend who adopted this sedentary lifestyle told me that following a heart scare that his body was failing him in old age.
I replied asking him if that was really the case or was it possible that he had failed his body with his lifestyle choices?
Obviously, this at first did not go down well with my friend but I know it made him think about his lifestyle. Now that he has recovered from his scare he is much more attuned to good wellness practices and has become more active in his retirement.
It is perhaps unsurprising that some retirees following a major health scare change their behaviour with regards to their health
Sir Issac Newton once said “A body at rest tends to stay at rest. While a body in motion stays in motion”
The ageing body
It is no secret that the human body changes over time. Both genetics and our lifestyles play a huge role in how we age. Now I am no Medical Doctor. However, the overwhelming advice is out there, that in retirement we should look to create healthy habits and live a healthy lifestyle. This will then give us the best chance to enjoy a long, happy and successful retirement.
Now I understand that for some of us ill health may really be out of our control due to hereditary or genetic issues. However, there are many more cases of poor lifestyle choices that lead to retirees not living an active life in their golden years.
Going into retirement you really need to look at implementing a suitable health fitness plan for yourself. In order to keep that marvellous machine that is your body running in top condition.
7 health practices to a wellness retirement
Dr Richard Johnson from retirement options.com identifies 7 health practices that together allow retirees to perform maximally. These practices serve as the foundation of wellness, the backdrop for living life with vitality.
Avoid tobacco use
Well the indisputable evidence is in the book. The use of tobacco is clearly harmful to one’s health. The list of these harmful effects from smoking is enormous. If you want to lead a healthy life in retirement you must avoid tobacco use.
We all know the importance of eating a healthy balanced diet. We aware of the medical dietary advice that says we should eat 5 fruit or vegetables every day. Avoid sugar products, minimise salt intake and to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Yet because we know that these dietary habits are very useful, how many of us can say that we regularly follow the advice?
To put it in another context you have just bought yourself a brand-new car. You have worked hard for this car and it is your pride and joy. So, would you put substandard fuel in the car? Maybe try it on vegetable oil? Of course, you wouldn’t. Chances are if you fuel it this way it would not run for very long and you would probably ruin the engine.
It might then be worth considering what type of food fuel are you putting into your digestive system on a regular basis? If you want the wonderful machine that is your body to work at optimum levels then eating a well-balanced healthy diet is a priority.
Positive response to stress
Stress affects us all in many ways. Situations that cause stress to one individual may be considered a motivating challenge for another. One of the keys is to know your stressors. When you know the situations or events that cause you to be stressed then you can look to devise your coping strategies.
Amongst the many coping strategies, you could use include calming yourself down with breathing techniques or re-framing the situation to a more positive outlook and there are indeed many others.
One other area that would be of great benefit to look at is controlling what you personally can control. And not spending the majority of time focusing on things that you have no control over. Control the controllable’s.
Life can these days be very hectic. The demands on our attention are growing at an alarming rate so much so that many of us get stressed by modern living. We feel tired, unhappy and frustrated. Meditation can help you have a calmer mind and more focused.
No, I am not suggesting that you become a Buddhist monk.
A simple 10-15 meditation each day can help you deal with stress and get your mind back in balance. This can be easily learned and in fact there are hundreds of guided ones free on YouTube that you can use.
Sufficient sleep and relaxation
Research suggests that we have become a sleep deprived nation. Yet sleep is so vital for our physical and mental well-being. Sleep is rejuvenating, relaxing and so physically necessary. The amount of sleep required varies individually, but we all need an adequate amount. Ensure you get the sleep you need.
Maintaining an ideal weight
A modern epidemic of obesity is now prevalent in the Western World. The media focuses on the problem with the younger generation. But it is also a problem for older people as well. Being very overweight is dangerous for our health. It puts us at risk of many serious diseases including heart disease, strokes and bowel cancers.
Fast food, fatty foods and too much food put inches on our waistlines, take years off our lives and robs us of vitality. Weight management in today’s world is not easy, but it is necessary to live an active life in retirement.
Moderate use of alcohol
There is plenty of research that suggests that moderate use of alcohol has some health benefits. Yet do not make the mistake of thinking that because a small amount may be good for you that a lot will be better. Over use of alcohol can affect all the body systems and in particular the liver.
Alcohol is also a known depressant and can over the long haul deprive you of your natural bodily and emotional rhythms. So as the UK government warnings say, “Be sensible and enjoy alcohol responsibly”.
Sufficient exercise is a perquisite to keep our bodies operating at optimum levels. Naturally some persons, due to many factors cannot exercise in the way that they want. Old age may mean we should vary our chosen methods of exercise as our bodies age.
However, some type of exercise is always possible. Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy doing and your commitment to it will be stronger. The recommendations from health experts is that 20-30 minutes vigorous exercise 3-4 times a week is sufficient to keep us in good condition.
Resistance or strength training as part of your routine would also be of great benefit as it will help you stay mobile in your later years. This type of training will prevent the loss of muscle mass and motor function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3117172/
We all would love a great retirement. To be able to play with the grand kids, enjoy the sport or leisure activities of our choice. Maybe we want to travel extensively and see the world. But these and other things might be difficult for some of us to achieve due to health issues.
Some understandably will be unavoidable health issues. Others however will have resulted from poor lifestyle and self-management. And they could have been very avoidable.
It is without a doubt that the quality of your life in your retirement years will be in some way impacted by the state of your physical health. So, all things being equal you own your health and wellness. Do not neglect your body in retirement. It is the only one you will get.