Retirement age varies from person to person, but the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the average for American men and women is 63. There are many factors determining when a person can retire and what their health and lifestyle will be like after they leave the workforce. With the average life expectancy over 78 in the United States, many Americans will have numerous years of post-employment life. Whether your dream is to travel the world, go back to school, pursue a new career or passion, or spend more time with family, friends and your community, there have never been more opportunities and resources available. People from all backgrounds and walks of life have the chance to enjoy healthy, productive and active retirements. As you consider retirement, maintaining your health is key to getting the most out of life. In addition to physical health problems such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and arthritis, older adults also tend to be more vulnerable to depression, loneliness, and Alzheimer's disease. Not only does staying active offer personal fulfillment as we age, but it is also important for maintaining and improving physical health and overall quality of life. So, what can you do to make the most of your “golden years”? Physical activity and fitness play a key role, along with additional factors that take mental, emotional, and spiritual health into account.
Keep Up Your Fitness Routine or Start a New OneMaybe you woke up at 6 a.m. like clockwork to run a few miles on the treadmill before work every morning before work for 30 years, or barely saw the inside of a gym or exercise class for most of your adult life. Either way, it is never too late to shake up your existing routine or to begin a new one. If you already have a routine that works for you, consistency can help you to stay motivated and add stability to a transitional period like retirement. Experiment with your new schedule to find the routine and time of day to exercise that works best for you. If you are just getting on the fitness track after retirement, take advantage of the luxury of a more flexible schedule to find an activity you can enjoy and commit to several times a week, whether it's a yoga or tai chi class, a brisk run or a hike through your neighborhood or local park. Look for physical activities and exercises for older adults including…
- Aerobics/cardio (shoot for at least 30 minutes three to four times a week);
- Strength training and resistance;
- Stretching and flexibility; and
Exercise Your Mind by Indulging Your Passions and Learning New ThingsAfter the initial excitement of leaving the workforce wears off, many retirees experience boredom or restlessness. Keeping your mind sharp and active is as important for your health and happiness as working out and eating a healthy diet. Retirement is a great time to dust off that copy of War and Peace sitting on the bookshelf for years, or join a local book club for suggestions and discussions if you love to read but never had time to indulge before retirement. Other common activities to help keep your mind sharp and engaged include…
- Learning a new language;
- Improving your chess game;
- Picking up where you left off with an old hobby (or a new one) such as woodworking, painting, or sewing;
- Learning to waltz, foxtrot, or tango (ballroom dancing gets double bonus points for physical and mental health benefits!);
- Volunteering with your favorite charity or community organization; and/or
- Leading a workshop or teaching a subject in your area of expertise.