In my book, blogs, and podcasts, you'll often hear me call retirement "the best half" of life. And I truly believe that with the support of a comprehensive financial plan, your golden years can be a long and enriching chapter full of adventure, connection, and self-discovery.
But it's also true that the realities of aging can cut some of that fun short. The older we get, the more our knees and backs start aching, the longer bumps and bruises linger, and the quicker we run out of energy.
The good news is that we all have more control over our physical health than we sometimes realize. These tips can help you improve your self-care routine and set goals that will help you age well in the New Year and into retirement.
1. Consult with your doctor.
No matter how old you are, health insurance is a valuable benefit that you work very hard to secure. Yet many of us forget that the most effective medicine is preventative. If you're one of the lucky ones who go long stretches without getting sick or injured, make sure you schedule an annual checkup and get an updated snapshot of your vitals. When you do get banged up, don't let aches and pains linger. And if you're experiencing any changes to your health that are affecting your normal workout routine, talk to your doctor about some alternatives that will help you age well while staying active.
A special note to new retirees: if this is your first year on Medicare, take advantage of the free services, including a “Welcome to Medicare” checkup and preventative screenings.
2. Pump some iron.
Well, a little bit anyway.
Many folks drift away from lifting weights as they age. But studies have shown that appropriate strength training can help older adults age well, build muscle, improve their balance, and stay mobile. You don't have to load up the bench press to enjoy these benefits. Try incorporating some lighter hand weights into your normal aerobic exercise routine to start. Remember: never do anything that hurts. If a weight feels too heavy, it probably is. And if you want to invest more in your strength, consider working with a certified personal trainer.
3. Take a walk.
Even for folks who age well, some favorite activities become tougher, or a higher injury risk, the older we get. Walking, however, is an exercise that most folks can enjoy well into their senior years. And it's better for you than you probably realize! A study by the Radiological Society of North America found that walking five miles per week can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help you reduce body fat, lower your risk of stroke and heart disease, reduce stress, and boost your immune system. And walking is also a great social exercise that you can add on to meet-ups with friends and family, like shopping or grabbing a cup of coffee.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
According to data from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases 42% of adults over the age of 60 are considered obese. Also, data from Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute suggests that this can lead to difficulties with basic daily living tasks, like walking around and grooming, as well as social activities and exercise, which can lead to depression. Obesity also increases the risks of four of the top-ten leading causes of death in the United States: coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, stroke, and several cancers.
Retirees can be especially susceptible to bad habits that lead to unhealthy weight gain. Leaving work can lead to a lack of structure in your day, which can lead to lots of grazing in the kitchen and lounging on the couch.
While none of us likes stepping on that scale, it's important that you find the right mix of diet and exercise to help you maintain a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI). This is another good conversation to have with your doctor at that annual checkup!
And if you find you're spending too much time puttering around the house, try this simple exercise: take a blank calendar or make a 7-day grid on a blank sheet of paper. Divide every day into three sections: morning, afternoon, night. Now, fill in the boxes with things you enjoy doing, things you want to try, and things you know you should be doing. If you've fallen out of a healthy exercise routine, try adding "Take a walk" to three of the morning boxes in your week, and build out the rest of your new schedule from there.
At Keen Wealth, the conversations that we have with folks around health and happiness are just as important to our comprehensive planning process as the conversations we have about money, especially for retirees. In 2023, why not make changes to help you age well and make the most of your retirement? Get in touch to schedule your meeting this year, so you can start 2023 on the right foot.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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