The best ways to stay active in retirement
The key to a healthy retirement is finding new ways to move
Books and movies would have us believe retirement is all about drinking endless cups of tea, sailing your yacht on the harbour and working on perfecting your golf swing. But if you’re more of a coffee drinker, don’t own a sailboat and can’t tell the difference between a putter and a driver, fear not.
There are so many ways to stay healthy and active throughout retirement, without resorting to the stereotypes. This is your chance to combine the hobbies you love with fun (and often new) ways of incorporating exercise into your weekly schedule.
Exercise can boost your mood, increase your self-esteem, keep your bones healthy and decrease your chances of getting sick, so there’s no better time to start than now.
Here are my tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout retirement:
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is the key to maintaining a healthy mind and body, so I guess you could say your exercise regime should start in the bedroom! Regardless of your activity schedule, you should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night to be able to function at your best the coming day. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime, consider using a magnesium spray of an evening or taking a supplement to help you doze off quicker.
Try something new
Retirement could be the perfect opportunity to try out a new hobby. Challenging yourself to learn new skills will keep your mind sharp and your body physically fit – and you get extra points if you exercise outdoors as this will boost your vitamin D. Just make sure you protect your skin at the same time – these sun safety tips will help.
Try tai chi, tennis, lawn bowls or even swimming for some low-impact exercise. Whatever it is, ensure it’s something new to help improve your cognitive function and target muscles that may not have been used in the past.
Go on a fit date
Staying connected is the key to overall wellness in retirement. It can be hard to maintain the friendships you had at work, so a great idea is to plan fit dates with old and new connections. It could be as simple as a walk in the sunshine every morning or a social game of tennis on the weekend. These outings will keep you mentally sharp and socially engaged, as well as contribute to your overall fitness.
Move your body
The key to a healthy mind and body is finding ways to move every day. This doesn’t have to mean a vigorous workout at the gym; instead, it can be about moving your body in a way you love. Gardening, playing with your grandkids, going for a walk after dinner or a sunrise dip in the ocean all count. Don’t focus on burning calories or working up a sweat; it’s all about increasing your steps and moving your body wherever you can. If you’re doing an activity you love, it won’t feel like exercise at all and you’ll be more likely to do it more often.
Create healthy habits
It’s never too late to kick those unhealthy habits to the kerb and create new ones. Making small healthy changes will help you feel happier and more energised. Try to wake up earlier each morning for a stretch session (check out my beginner's guide to stretching for inspiration), join a walking group, swap out your second coffee of the day for a herbal tea or go to bed an hour earlier. This is the start of a new and exciting chapter of your life, so take little steps each day to make it one of your best ones yet.
Cassey Maynard is one of Sydney’s most recognised fitness experts and health advocates. Also known as The Energiser, Cass (@cassey.maynard) is passionate about energising people’s lives through health and fitness in a playful, fun and educational way.
For more articles by Cassey, check out The Check Up’s dedicated section.