Health & Wellness Articles

Transition into a Healthy Retirement

Retirement Can Be A Renaissance

Once upon a time there was a distinguished politician who went into retirement after a long career of hectic schedules, important tasks, and continual limelight. After hanging around the house for the first week of his new-found freedom, he was gently chastised by his wife, who informed him that she had married him for better or worse, but not for lunch.

Do you also need some help making the transition from busy worker bee to busy retiree? The journey from working to retiring is one of life’s great transitions-- even if you’ve planned for it and are already looking forward to it. A time of delicate decisions and scary new possibilities, retirement can feel both exhilarating and confusing. Choices made now will reverberate through the rest of your life. Choices about fitness and nutrition may be the most important of all.

How will you spend your time, and what do you want to do on a typical day? What do you want to learn, and what do you want to teach? Where and how will you live? Is it possible now to resurrect some of the dreams and goals you’ve deferred? As you plan the rest of your life, incorporating your beliefs, values, and commitments, be sure to give proper attention to your physical well-being. If you’re in good shape, great! You’ll want to maintain that valuable condition. If not, there’s no better time to make healthy changes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Physical activity is more important than ever.
  • If you’re not interested in joining a formal fitness program, you can stay physically active in other ways: bowling, fishing, gardening, biking, or community projects that require elbow grease.
  • If you are interested in a formal fitness program, find out if local churches, recreation centers, or civic associations offer classes and activities for seniors, especially since they may also offer discounts.
  • To limber your limbs—and to maintain at least one activity that’s free, low-risk, and convenient almost anywhere—try to walk or jog 20-30 minutes, three to five times a week.
  • Partner up with a fitness buddy—someone who’s as serious as you about fitness. Make your exercise regimen a good excuse to maintain friendships, or renew old ties that you missed when you were tethered to the workday world.
  • Consider making strength training a priority—it offers numerous benefits for seniors, such as increasing energy levels throughout the day, reducing stress and anxiety, delaying or preventing age-related disorders, and enhancing sleep, balance, endurance, and flexibility.
Eat, drink, and be merry— and healthy.
  • Eat a variety of foods.
  • Avoid high-cholesterol foods and limit your total fat and saturated fat.
  • Increase fiber intake and, especially if you’re a woman, calcium.
  • Limit your use of sugar, salt, and sodium compounds.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
  • Make sure prescribed medications don’t clash with your food choices.
  • Get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.
Set out on new adventures!
  • Schedule at least part of your time according to the goals you set for yourself—it’s a perverse axiom of human nature that the more time you have, the more you waste. (It’s the converse of the old adage that "if you want something done, you should ask a busy person.")
  • Learn something new-- experts say intellectual stimulation is one of the basic needs of human beings. Make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to learn or try, then pick out something that’s feasible now.
  • Help around the house—your spouse will be thrilled! If your partner has always been the one to cook, turn the tables. Take a gardening or healthy cooking class, then show off what you’ve learned. Experiment with new food that you’ve never tried.
  • Take up a fitness activity that you can do with your better half—tennis, ballroom dancing, mini-marathons. Focus on fun.
  • Volunteer for worthwhile activities, particularly those closest to your heart. When you have purpose in your life, getting and staying fit becomes easier.
  • Make a conscious effort to build both exercise and healthy eating into any travels you indulge in. When planning an itinerary, look for ways to be active, like swimming, walking, or boating. Limit rich or calorie-laden meals to once or twice a week. Make balanced, healthful foods the bulk of your fare.
Clearly, it doesn’t take a lot of money or major planning to make the most of your golden years. You too can turn your retirement into a renaissance!

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Member Comments

  • This article is really saying to try to continue doing all the things that make your life healthy and worthwhile no matter what your age or stage of work. As a retired person, I still don't have time for everything I would like to do.
  • We love being retired!
  • I have been retired for nearly 6 years. I take care of my disabled wife and myself. I really enjoy, in my other time, doing next to nothing. Different strokes.
  • I live near a rest home and many women do volunteer work, but men are scarce. I know retirement is an adjustment. You don't feel you are contributing to anything. Volunteering could easily be the answer.
  • Enjoyed reading all the comments as I contemplate my renaissance!! Hoping to make the right decision!
    Great comment from DoreenKnight64 -- that she married her husband for lunch also!

    Sharing every meal with my husband would be wonderful. He is that kind of guy-- and I am so very fortunate to have married him. He stays busy in retirement, always working on some project. We both enjoy time with our grandchildren, and taking hikes on nature trails. Retirement well planned can be a very pleasant experience.
  • My parents during their retirement - dad does small business, keeping his mind active, mom's helping him and one time, both did veggie garden (mostly my mom and she got more tanned, hehe). My mom also does more tasks around the house, I think also getting creative on her sewing!
  • SHERI1969
    I sent this article to my parents. My father has been retired just over a year now. Both are working out at a gym together, but they do face a lot of new challenges, including financially. I hope they get some good ideas from it.
  • My parents are in their mid 70's. I plan to be active like them. They still go to the gym twice per week. lol Can you imagine the granny wear. lol They are always moving and that creates a great attitude and that is the way it should be, don't you think!
  • Loved this article! I have been retired for almost 9 years and my husband for the past 6. We tell people that the best thing about being retired is that we get to do the things we want to do, not just the things we have to do!! My husband has always loved to cook and was our "weekend chef" for many years as our family was growing up. When he retired he told me that he wasn't interested in doing the cleaning/laundry stuff, but he could do all the cooking if I was interested! It was "hard" for me the first year, and I do occassionally prepare a meal for us, but I have learned to enjoy not having to plan the meals or clean up after them--he does it all and loves it! He even brings my coffee to me each morning--am I one lucky gal, or what!? We do have our separate interests, but enjoy being together as well. I am the one who needs to lose the weight, and he is a great encourager to me...even learning to not use quite as much salt when he cooks now! We enjoy our days of retirement, and as we've heard for many years...we are busier now than we ever were...and love it!
    I read this article back in 2007. Today it is more practical than ever as I'm considering retirement in a few years (65 now) and am approaching it with a bit of trepidation.
    Thanks Rebecca it is a very estimulating article, it is exactly what I started doing, exercise and nutrition because I am planning to retired this year. I'm already jointed the Sinior Citizen club. The membership allowed me to go to water exercises three times per week . The other activities that I do not enjoy do to my job.
  • I have been dissabled and unable to work for just over three years now. I can honestly say that soemthmes there are not enough hours in the day. I find I have to keep active asI have a low boredom threshold and I can alwaysfind things to occupy myself with. I feel it is so important to do as much as possible, not only for my health's sake but to keep from becoming lethargic and eventua;;y incapable of doing anything. Ok, my circumstances are slightly diffeent in that if I don't do some activity I will eventually be unable to do things as my medical condition is such that it is likely to deterioorate if I don't. However, I would not use this as an excuse as I have to keep active. That way it makes life interesting and each day worth getting up for as you never kow just exactly what is going to be thrown at you despite all the well made plans. There is always a curveball somewhere along the way and this keeps you on your toes and up for anything. I totally agree with this blog as it is extremely apt.
  • I retired in December at 59. It was something I always looked forward to and I love it but it still is an adjustment in every way. I'm amazed at how much less money I'm living on and not feeling deprived at all. I resisted going out and getting another job right away which I really felt driven to do, worried about money and feeling guilty to not be working like everybody else. Am finding the ways I want to fill my time. I made sure to move first to a nice little town that's very friendly to walking and biking so that's a really enjoyable part of my new life. I planned everything out, but that's how I do things. Some things don't turn out the way you planned (40lk) but oh well, making do with less can be fun.
  • Three years ago, I decided to leave my 60 hr per week job and find something a little less stressful. The biggest hurdle there was that my stressful job paid well and we managed to spentd as we earned. I won an administrtive job working 48 hours per fortnight, with a great reduction in pay, and managed to live on those earnings, I reached retirement age last December and now still work at the same job however have managed to reduce my hours to 20 hours per week, and I love the freedom it has given me. I never had time to join a gym and enjoy regular visits since joining in December 2008, I don;t have much spare time through choice, as I am now a volunteer ESOL tutor and have 3 students and having 6 grandchildren and Photshop on my computer, keeps me busy, playing around with their photos. I think life begins at retirement!!!!!

About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.