Written by: Jason Lewis
Forget high school — retirement can easily be the best years of your life! Your years of experience have given you the wisdom you need to truly enjoy life right now. The only thing that can hold you back is your health. Like it or not, your body doesn’t work as well as it used to.
Your muscle mass decreases, your bones become brittle, and you are at greater risk for developing chronic conditions — including mental illness. The best thing you can do during retirement is to become proactive regarding your overall health and wellness.
Your body may be losing muscle mass and bone density, but you can fortify what you have with regular exercise. Don’t let your senior years be sedentary. If you don’t already have a favorite activity or workout, use your newfound free time in retirement to try new exercises.
● Moderate cardio exercise like walking, swimming, or biking.
● Flexibility exercises like yoga.
● Strength training exercises like weight lifting and isometric exercises.
● Sports like bowling, badminton, and squash.
● Outdoor activities like cross-country skiing, hiking, and golf.
Not only does exercise prevent muscle and bone loss, it also helps with mental health as well. Exercise relieves stress and can prevent depression in older adults. Be sure to look out for signs of depression throughout retirement, including a lack of interest in activities that they normally enjoy, loss of energy, change in appetite, and different sleeping patterns. Exercise can be a helpful way to shake off the blues and feel like normal again.
All that exercise won’t do much if you aren’t eating enough to fuel your body. Unfortunately, one of the changes that happens to our bodies as we age happens to our tongues — aging steals our sense of taste. But just because things don’t taste the same doesn’t mean you have an excuse to miss out on meals. It also doesn’t mean it’s time to overcompensate with salt, fat, and sugar to make things taste good. These unhealthy ingredients increase your chance of developing chronic illness, especially heart disease, which is the number one killer worldwide.
● Eat plenty of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These healthy fats can be found in flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and various types of fish. They can also reduce inflammation and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
● Consume plenty of calcium-rich food and drinks. This essential mineral can prevent bone loss and fractures. Furthermore, plenty of calcium can regulate blood pressure. The World Health Organization recommends that senior adults get at least 1,200 milligrams per day of calcium.
● Avoid processed foods. These are more product than a source of nutrition. Companies pump them full of strange chemicals, bad fats, and sodium so they taste good and last longer on the shelves. They are not made with your health in mind.
Happiness begets health and vice versa. If you want to be your healthiest self, make your retirement as enjoyable as possible. Use your newfound free time to visit friends and family. Volunteer with organizations you care about in your community. Take a cruise or go on another dream vacation. Do whatever it is that makes you happier and you’ll have less stress and the health problems that come along with it.
Retirement can be the best years of your life if you make it that way. The one thing holding a lot of seniors back is their health — our bodies don’t work like they used to once you hit 60. However, by staying active, eating well, and reducing stress through laughter, you too can have the retirement you always wanted.
Jason Lewis is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell to share his tips on senior fitness.