No matter how you plan to spend your time in retirement, looking after your body and mind gives you the energy to live life to the fullest.
Whether you’re pottering about in the garden, catching up with friends, or hitting the open road in your caravan, you’ll get more out of the experience when you’re healthy and feeling good.
Maintaining healthy habits doesn’t have to involve a strict exercise regime or missing out on dessert. When you do the basics right and make smart lifestyle choices, it can be surprisingly easy and enjoyable to keep your mind and body sharp.
So, read on to learn 5 tips for staying fit, healthy and happy as you age.
Be Physically Active Every Day
Regular exercise helps you in many ways – it can increase your energy levels, improve your sleep, reduce stress and boost your self-confidence. The Department of Health recommends that older people aim to be active for at least 30 minutes a day, through a mix of fitness, strength, flexibility and balancing activities.
You can achieve your 30 minutes through a combination of exercise and everyday tasks that require physical effort. This could include walking, swimming, playing golf and water aerobics, or gardening, washing the car and vacuuming.
Getting started can be hard, but once you make it part of your routine and experience the benefits, you may just find yourself looking forward to your daily dose of exercise!
Connect with Others Often
Maintaining meaningful connections with your friends, family and neighbours is enjoyable and good for your health. According to recent research, loneliness can pose a bigger risk to premature death than smoking or obesity. Plus, it can also result in a faster rate of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.
So, tee up a weekly coffee date with a friend, catch up for a Friday night drink with a neighbour, volunteer in your local community or join a club. Because regular interaction with others not only makes you feel good, it may also help you live longer.
Eat the Right Foods Most of the Time
If your diet isn’t up to scratch, you’ll feel tired and sluggish. You’re also at risk of experiencing serious health complaints too. Eating healthy doesn’t mean being obsessive or depriving yourself – but do aim to eat mostly nutritious food every day.
Choosing natural, unrefined foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains instead of processed foods is a good starting point. Need inspiration for healthy meals and snacks? Visit your library and check out the cook book aisle, or do some research online for recipe ideas. If you have a sweet tooth or love your chips, it’s fine to indulge, just don’t make it a daily habit.
Get Enough Sleep
When you’re getting enough good quality sleep every night, you give your body and brain time to recharge. During deep sleep your brain repairs itself and your immune system gets a boost, which makes a big difference to your health and energy levels. Poor sleep not only makes you fatigued, it can also affect your memory, concentration and mood.
The Sleep Health Foundation recommends as a general guideline 7-9 hours of sleep each night for adults aged up to 64, and 7-8 hours for those aged 65 plus. Sleep problems in older adults are common, so if you’re struggling to get to sleep or wake often, introduce some routine around bedtime. Go to bed at a regular time, make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet and avoid electronic devices for at least an hour before bed. If you’re still experiencing sleep issues, it might be time to book an appointment with your GP for further advice.
Keep Your Mind Sharp
Just like your body, your brain needs regular exercise to stay in good shape. According to the Brain Foundation, exercising your brain involves “doing anything that makes you think”. To keep your mind sharp, try and incorporate thinking activities into your day such as reading, crosswords, puzzles and quizzes. Learning something new also gives your brain an excellent workout. So, if you have some free time, why not learn a language, musical instrument or try a new hobby?
On top of this, regular exercise, a nutritious diet, managing stress and getting enough sleep all contribute to the health of your brain. This gives you an added incentive to keep up those good habits we’ve already mentioned!
Healthy Habits Help You Age Well
There are few things in life as precious as your health, but chances are you don’t give it too much thought when you’re feeling good. However, as you age, health issues can become more frequent and more serious, and it can affect your ability to get out and enjoy life.
To make the most of your retirement years, good health is essential. So, if you’re not looking after yourself quite as well as you could be, start with some small changes today. Because every healthy habit you maintain makes a difference!
Over to You
Do you have a healthy habit that’s worked for you that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it! Simply post a comment below.
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