How to live a healthy retirement
One of the most interesting findings in the latest Aviva Real Retirement report was about a desire to live a healthy retirement.
75% of those retiring, age 65 to 74 years old, said that ensuring they are healthy enough to enjoy their retirement is a priority.
I recently commented in the Sunday Times that the single most important non-financial step you can take is to stay in good health throughout your life.
Poor health and bad lifestyle choices, such as smoking or excessive drinking, can be very costly in later life due to the cost of lost employment opportunities, healthcare costs and medication.
While a shorter life expectancy can result in higher annuity rates, this rarely compensates fully for the higher costs and lifestyle implications of poor health.
As something of a born-again health and fitness addict, there are a few things I believe are important if you want to be healthy enough to enjoy your retirement.
Regular exercise is a must.
The government recommends older adults aged 65 and over, who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility, should try to be active daily.
They should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as cycling or fast walking) each week and also a couple of days a week of muscle-strengthening activities working all major muscle groups.
Rather than spending hours at the gym each week, I’m a big advocate of more functional exercise, using the great outdoors as your gym. Moving fast, lifting heavy things and being on your feet for extended periods of time is a great way to get and stay fit.
If running is your thing, or you would like it to be, then sign up for parkrun which offers free, weekly timed 5km runs in parks around the UK. I’m in the process of establishing a parkrun in Cranleigh, which we will be encouraging our clients to attend.
Eat real food
In addition to regular exercise, a good diet is important if you want to be healthy enough to enjoy your retirement.
Rather than engaging in fad diets or attending dieting clubs, the key to a healthy diet is eating ‘real’ foods.
Real food is defined as food in its most natural state; check out www.100daysofrealfood.com for inspiration.
Maintain a healthy weight
Weight is another important factor when considering a healthy retirement.
A US study back in 2005 found that retirement appears to have little impact on weight gain.
Researchers tracked more than 3,000 people for 12 years. Participants were 45-64 years old when the study started.
Everyone gained a little additional weight each year (less than a pound), but weight gain didn’t dramatically increase after retirement.
Being obese increases your risk of developing a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer and stroke.
The combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet should ensure you avoid obesity in retirement.
It’s good to talk
Another factor to consider is loneliness.
A new Age UK study has found that over a million older people in the UK regularly feel lonely. Over a million over 65s have described themselves as lonely and two in five state their TV or pet is their main form of company.
This is important because loneliness not only makes life miserable for older people, it is also really bad for their health making them more vulnerable to illness and disease.
Having an active circle of friends, regular activities to attend and staying close to family are all important steps to fend off loneliness in older age.
What other steps should individuals take to live a healthy retirement?