The Role Good Health Plays In A Happy Retirement
You’ve spent decades saving and planning for your dream retirement. Now that you’re there, you want to make sure you can really enjoy it. Today, we are going to talk about a vital component of your retirement wellbeing: your health.
Health is a subject we see discussed all the time. Every day it seems there is a new diet, workout regime, or supplement plan to transform your health and lead to a better life. While exercise fads and hot diets aren’t sustainable, they do touch on the crucial role that health plays in a well-balanced life.
Your health isn’t just reserved for your younger years, maintaining your health in retirement will help promote a strong and more fulfilling lifestyle. Let’s take a look at the role health plays in retirement.
Why Physical Health Matters
When you think about health, many people start with physical health. Staying active and eating healthy doesn’t have to be like muscle-bound folks throwing tires around in a loft-like gym. Physical health is about strengthening your body, improving balance, and enhancing your immune system to prevent common diseases.
For retirees, a consistent exercise routine is linked to a decreased risk of common health ailments like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. These health problems not only make your life more difficult, but also end up costing you a lot more in medical fees, doctor’s visits, medication, physical therapy, and surgeries.
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and hospitalizations among those 65 and older. In addition to physical pain, these falls are quite costly with total spending projected to reach nearly 68 billion dollars in 2020. Piled with debt and recovery, many seniors recovering from falls see a decline in their mental health as well as further isolation from their community and regular routine.
As you can see, maintaining proper physical health in retirement can not only improve your daily life but also save you thousands on medical costs. Another way supporting health boosts your retirement income is through Social Security. For married couples, when both spouses are healthy and live a long life they are able to take advantage of a combined financial benefit of dual social security incomes and lower federal tax rates.
Health plays a vital role in your day to day life in retirement. But how can you find and stick with a routine that works for you?
Best practices for staying active
Creating and maintaining an active lifestyle can be a big shift, especially for people who don’t typically enjoy exercise. There are so many activities that you can do beyond running a few laps on a track or lifting weights in the gym.
Below we provided a list of great activities to consider as you build your fitness plan. Keep in mind that this list is just an overview of what you can do. Combine your strengths and passions together and build a plan that works best for you. If you are trying something new, consult with your doctor.
Specialty classes like Jazzercise, Zumba, Barre
If you are new to a consistent exercise plan, try a few different things out. Maybe you want a Peloton bike or elliptical for those cold, rainy days when you can’t get out of the house.
Feel too busy to commit?
Throw on your ear-buds and walk in your neighborhood when you make calls or reach out to friends. The important thing here is to set small goals first until they become part of your daily routine and build from there.
In all likelihood, you will combine a few of the activities above to design a fitness plan tailored to you and your needs. Getting involved in exercise has benefits that far exceed your health. It will get you involved with a community and help you build relationships. You might find that you look forward to yoga on Saturday mornings with your group of friends or love hiking new trails with your spouse.
Exercise can bring you adventure, community, and increased health which all lead to a strong retirement.
Your mental health counts too
Mental health is so often overlooked in our society, but it is such an important component of your overall wellness.
Many studies suggest a connection between exercise and mental health. One from Harvard Medical School found that exercise improves mental health in two ways. The first being that exercise prompts reduced inflammation, insulin resistance, growth factors, as well as the preservation of brain cells.
This study also linked exercise to an improved mood, better sleep, and reduced stress and anxiety. Sleeping well also improves your mental state. So by exercising regularly you could improve your sleep quality and feel more well-rested/energized for the day.
Regular activity reduces stress and calms the mind which a new study reported by Time magazine said could be linked to a longer lifespan.
The bottom line? Exercise and mental health are inextricably linked. How can you prioritize your mental health in retirement?
Tips to keep your mind sharp
Mental agility is an important component of a strong retirement. Below are a few ways to help maintain your mental wellness in retirement.
Learn new skills (take classes, courses, independent research, etc.)
Engage with others
Try something new
Play brain games
Tap into your creative side
One simple way to keep your mind fresh is to mix up your day by doing routine tasks differently. For example, drive a different way to the grocery store, gym, bank, or local park. Another way is to proactively play mind/memory games with your kids and grandkids. One of my best memories growing up is playing the card game Canasta with my grandmother and Scrabble with my parents.
These are simple ways to retain mental engagement throughout your day which can improve your overall health and happiness in retirement. Actively planning for your physical and mental health is a key benefit of retirement planning.
By giving yourself the time and space to plan your retirement lifestyle you will be able to think about these nuances and craft a plan that leaves you happy and healthy for many years to come.
Here at Covenant Wealth Advisors, we love working with people to help them find their reason for retirement and that starts with a strong financial plan. Schedule a call with our team today to learn more about the components of a strong retirement plan.
Mark Fonville, CFP®
Mark has over 18 years of experience helping individuals and families invest and plan for retirement. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and President of Covenant Wealth Advisors.