July 28, 2010

5 Keys to a Healthier Life

For those of us in the Encore Years maintaining good health is a key concern. A  study from a few years ago noted that half of all retirees are worried about health-related issues, while only 17% are worried about death. Here is a basic, 5 point list of some of the factors that most experts agree are vital to a happy aging experience. See if this list spurs you to make improvements where needed.

  • Financial Planning . Nothing causes more stress among retired folks than the fear of running out of money. A generation ago people only lived an average 10 years after they stopped working. Today, most of us can expect at least 20 more years of productive time. If the economy has caused you serious worry, there is every reason to believe your daily health will be negatively affected. For many, the economic problems of the last few years has made retirement difficult if not impossible. As a reminder, This blog does not include specific financial planning advice In a future post I will detail l some of the steps my family took to allow us to quit the rat race early. In the meantime, use the resources in the link and commit yourself to getting a solid grip on your true financial situation and develop a plan that will allow you to relax and enjoy your time.
  • Manage Your Stress. I'm referring to chronic stress, the kind that never seems to end. Certain kinds of stress are actually good for you and keep you moving forward. But, the wrong kind can trigger all sorts of physical symptoms. Mild problems can include headaches and susceptibility to colds. With more exposure to chronic stress, all sorts of bad things can begin to happen. Diabetes, heart problems, obesity, ulcers, and anxiety attacks is a partial list. The key is to manage the amount of on-going stress your body is exposed to every day.
  • Eating The Right Balance of Food Types. This falls under the heading of common sense. But, for many retirees, it is very easy to slack off in this critical area. You are probably near a refrigerator or pantry for many more hours of the day. When you dealing with stress or how to manage all that extra time, eating is a natural response. Your choices are more likely to be from the snack section, not the fruits & vegetable bin. 
  • Exercise & Stay Active. This closely follows the item above. If you don't "use it, you lose it." Any form of exercise and physical activity is better for you than none at all. Even with limitations to what you can do, there are isometric exercises anyone can do. Flexibility and muscle tone will directly affect how healthy you feel. There is no need to run a marathon *unless that is a new goal of yours) or joining an expensive gym. Walking around the neighborhood or inside a nearby shopping mall is a very positive thing you can do. Inexpensive rubber bands designed for working your muscles can be had for just a few dollars. Excellent ideas and recommendations are at this link.
  • Keep Your Mind Active and Alive. Developing dementia is a real fear for most of us. Our mind is what keeps us feeling connected to life, our relationships, and our future. There is no promise that doing crossword puzzles, reading, learning a new skill, playing a musical instrument, writing, or joining a discussion group will keep dementia from striking. But, there is growing medical evidence that these activities help delay its onset. I have a few posts that deal with ways to stimulate your mind and stay engaged.    AARP has an excellent article with lots of mental stimulation ideas here.

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