Tips for staying healthy in retirement

Here’s how retirement can be the best years of your life

Everyone wants to live a happy, healthy, satisfying life. In your retirement years you have more freedom, solid friendships, hopefully some funds tucked away, and you’re active enough to enjoy yourself.

So how do you make the most of this independence? Staying healthy – physically, emotionally and spiritually – would be top of most people’s lists. Here are some tips for staying happy and healthy throughout your retirement years.

1) Look after your body

The rules don’t change as you get older – you just have to be more diligent about applying them!

Eating well and staying active are still the vital keys to health and longevity in retirement. And while we’re talking about looking after your body, make sure you follow these fundamentals:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit & veg
  • Kick the smoking habit
  • Limit your alcohol intake to no more than two standard drinks a day
  • Keep your weight in the healthy range
  • Improve your blood sugar levels
  • Manage your blood pressure
  • Improve your cholesterol
  • Reduce your stress 

Exercise can improve your cholesterol levels, lower your blood pressure, and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Even better, moving your muscles benefits your mind as well as your body. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins – they’re a natural chemical that makes you feel more positive and happy! This in turn can stave off depression and help to relieve stress and anxiety.

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Exercising in your senior years needn’t be boring either. Here are some of the most popular active pursuits that retirees enjoy. You can stick to what you know, or stick your neck out and try something different!

  • Walking
  • Tennis
  • Bowls
  • Golf
  • Swimming
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Cycling
  • Dance classes
  • Yoga, Pilates, tai chi and other stretching movements
  • Gentle weight classes in the gym
  • Running around after your grandchildren!

All you need is 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. You can start slow – even five minutes is better than no minutes. Exercise with a friend or group so you stay committed.

Your body also needs a rest sometimes – more than just a nanna nap – as exhaustion will add up, and can lead to more serious conditions.

Remember to make sure you’re getting adequate sleep every night, and take time out for yourself to just relax. Spend a little time in nature with the fresh air and sunshine, even if it’s just sitting in your garden.

2) Feed your mind

Just as our bodies change as we grow older, so do our brains. It’s a natural part of ageing. You may forget the name of a friend, or perhaps have the common problem of going somewhere for something and forgetting what it was.

Including mental activities into your daily routine will help sharpen your grey matter. The easiest place to start is simply to keep using your brain.

To keep your mind active, try:

  • Reading – anything you enjoy
  • Crosswords, Sudoku and word games to help stimulate your brain
  • Jigsaw puzzles to tap into those problem solving centres of your brain
  • Creative pursuits such as drawing, painting, hobbies or craft
  • Games like chess, bridge, mah-jong, even Trivial Pursuit with the grandchildren. They can all help!

When you’re thinking of activities, remember not to narrow your field of interest. Trying new things and learning fresh skills can actually help your brain generate new cells. To help you with this, why not:

  • Take up a hobby you enjoyed as a child
  • Re-learn something you’ve let fall away, such as playing piano
  • Learn dance steps to aid your mind and help you make friends
  • Check out the local TAFE classes or special interest groups
  • Look for online classes – you’ll find endless possibilities!

There are also certain foods that have been proven to assist with healthy brain function. Fish and fish oil come highly recommended, as does following a diet of mostly fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil and plant-based proteins.

Ask your GP or natural health practitioner for advice on which diet or supplements may be of benefit. 

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3) Stay connected to those who matter

A supportive social circle has been linked to a lower risk of dementia, lower blood pressure, and longer life expectancy. If you have strong friendships, belong to groups and feel connected to the community in which you live, you’ll naturally tend to feel happier and more supported.

Find the people whose company you enjoy, those who are at the same stage of life and who share your interests. Your social circle may be small, you might enjoy being part of a club – or you might need to create your own! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Meet up with friends socially on a regular basis
  • Don’t wait for family to come to you – travel to catch up with them instead!
  • Pick up the phone for a chat
  • Take turns throwing a pot luck dinner
  • Join a club with people who share a common interest
  • Put your hand up for a committee position
  • Volunteer to work at a charity you admire
  • Enquire about group travel tours – you may make friends for life!
  • Start your own group, such as a sewing circle, hiking group, or book club
  • Join Facebook to keep connected with distant friends and family

You might be happy to have just a handful of close friends, or perhaps you prefer to keep expanding your circle. The important thing is to get out of the house on a regular basis and keep up those social connections. You will find yourself feeling all the better for it!

4) Ask how you can be of service

As you head into your retirement years, you still want to feel valued. You want to contribute and you want to do something that is meaningful and makes a difference to people. The great news is there are so many ways you can be of service. Start by searching in your local area for opportunities with organisations you admire

Giving your time to others is not only incredibly satisfying, it’s also great for your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. You will find you have purpose, a reason to get up in the morning, and people who not only rely on you but appreciate what you have to offer.

Here are a few ways you can be of service:

  • Volunteer – most charities are keen to enlist people willing to help
  • Join a committee – contributing your skills in a particular role can be very fulfilling
  • Teach a skill – if you can teach something people want to learn you’ll always be in demand
  • Mentor – there are programs where you can mentor young people in business or life skills
  • You may find a program in a nearby child care centre, school, hospital or aged care facility
  • If there is a neighbourhood centre in your area see if they have volunteer opportunities
  • Closer to home, someone may need help with shopping, driving or walking their dog

And of course, one of the best and most fulfilling “volunteer roles” going is simply being a grandparent! Looking after those precious littlies so their parents can work, have a night out together, or just enjoy a break can be extremely rewarding as you help to nurture and shape their lives. 

Let what you love to do be your guide. If you ask enough people, you will find the perfect way to be of service in your community. You may be pleasantly surprised at how your life can become rich with meaning once you selflessly offer to pass on your skills and talents to others. 

Find out why retirement can be the best time of your life at Kensington Gardens

At Kensington Gardens we want you to live life to the full. We’ve put together some more tips to help you look forward to your retirement and the next exciting stage of your life. You can download your copy of Ways to Improve Your Health and Longevity today.

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