Retirement is one of those things most people start dreaming about somewhere in their mid to late career.
Whether your ideal retirement looks like a reclining chair on a sunny deck, finally traveling the world, or a cozy corner with all the books you can read, actually enjoying your retirement requires you to get there in relatively good health.
If you don’t want to spend your senior years in and out of the hospital and worrying about when it’s time to move to an assisted living facility, the time is now to prepare for a healthy body while you still have time to make a few changes to your course.
Most people want to be mobile, active, and fairly energetic for at least the first decade or so of retirement. Your health is worth a lot more than just what it can offer you today. The better you take care of yourself now, the less you’ll have to worry when you finally have the free time to start working on your bucket list.
While we all eventually wind down, a healthy body means you can “live it up” in retirement in a way that simply isn’t possible for the sickly and frail.
So, here are five useful health tips for retirement that will help you maintain an enjoyable lifestyle for years to come.
1) Don’t Let Your Muscles Atrophy
First things first, your muscles are how you interact with the world by moving yourself and objects in your environment around.
There’s no independence in old age without muscle mass and, unfortunately, decades at a desk job aren’t exactly great for building up the muscle you’ll need to take care of yourself in retirement.
To ensure both your independence and ability to rearrange your own furniture at will, it’s vital that you build up and maintain a healthy collection of muscles now.
Go for a Full-Body Workout
Because you’re preparing to build up a stockpile of muscles, your best bet is to go for the full-body workout. Walking and running are a great place to start but the gym’s workout equipment is a great resource to help you focus on muscles that are more difficult to work out safely on your own.
Remember that your arms and legs are not the only muscles. The muscles in your back and core have a lot to do with lifting and moving power and a combination of leg and back muscles control your stability.
2) Keep Brushing and Flossing
Some people think about the food they’ll eat in retirement…other’s don’t.
No matter which category you fall into, no doubt you’re still expecting to enjoy a few delicious steaks, hamburgers, cakes and ice cream over your final few decades. Of course, that’s going to be a problem if your teeth start to fail you. Who wants to have dentures before they’re 80, or at all if it can be avoided?
If you want to be able to chew anything you desire, eat sweets, and deal with various food temperatures in your old age, it’s best to kick up the oral hygiene routine right now. Brushing your teeth is something most adults do but not everyone does it on a regular basis. Also, you might be surprised how few people bother to floss.
To keep your teeth in top condition for the next several decades, make sure to brush every day at bedtime and consider brushing during the day as well. As for flossing, if you hate the string, try a water pick or a bag of handy flossers.
3) Build a Balanced Diet
Speaking of what you eat, the other thing that can get in the way of an enjoyable retirement is a bad diet today.
If you wreck your gut by overindulging in pizza, fast food, greasy takeout, and frozen/packet meals, you probably won’t be in good condition to comfortably digest the rich foods most people enjoy after their working life is over.
Every person over the age of 40 must begin to think seriously about their personal health concerns, the needs of their digestive system, and adjust their diet accordingly. If you have to cut the sodium, look into more flavorful spices to make up the deficit. Garlic thins the blood, blueberries are an antioxidant, and salmon has Omega 3 which is great for almost everything.
Whether you need to watch your cholesterol, consume more fiber, or cut the red meat for a while, make sure to take care of your nutrition and intestinal health.
4) Work on Balance and Flexibility
One of the biggest risks for retirees is falling. While osteoporosis is more common in women, everyone is at risk and should be screened for early signs around the age of 60. Until, before, and after that point, you should be working on your balance and flexibility.
Most people lose a certain amount of muscle mass as they age, reducing their ability to stay stable and regain balance if it’s temporarily lost. The more you work on your stabilizing leg, core muscles and the ability to stretch and catch yourself in the event of a stumble, the less likely you are to really hurt yourself.
While it may not seem vital now, starting your balance workouts early and maintaining them is a great way to prevent falls later on.
5) Stretching Your Eyes
Finally, let’s talk about your eyes. The eye is a truly amazing organ with an organic lens that thickens and thins, allowing us to focus on objects that are closer or further away.
As we age, like all voluntary physical reactions, this response slows down. Many people start to form cataracts after the age of 50 – something that can be prevented if caught well in advance – and most begin to lose range both close-up and far-away.
The best way to take care of your eyes is to get an annual checkup and remember to stretch them out. Spend at least half an hour each day looking at things, alternating between near and far. If you wear glasses, take them off for this exercise.
By keeping your eyes limber, you can slow down the deterioration caused by age.
These Health Tips for Retirement Are Well within Your Grasp
Aging is a challenge but it doesn’t have to spoil your fun. If you’re looking forward to an active and enjoyable retirement, getting there is a matter of taking care of yourself on the journey.
Keep your muscles strong, your teeth clean, your eyes active, and your digestive system in check. As a result, you’ll be able to eat steak and go on adventures well into your retirement years.