July 13, 2010

Healthy Habits

As  I have noted before, I don't feel qualified to pass along specific exercise or diet regimens. That is well beyond the scope of this  happy retirement blog. But, I am comfortable in providing a few links to websites that I do trust, or come highly recommended from other sources. So, if you have questions of this nature, please begin by looking at the AARP siteThe Federal Government site for Eldercare, The Mayo Clinic Senior Health Center,and commercial sites like WebMD

I am comfortable in touching on a few areas where there is general agreement on their importance to a retiree's long term health and happiness. Staying active is probably top on all lists. Earlier posts have mentioned the risk someone faces who stops working and stops moving. Passive activities are an important part of life. I couldn't survive without my daily dose of reading, listening to music, watching a favorite movie, or sitting on the back porch and enjoying the birds.

But, I probably  wouldn't survive as long as I am destined to, or be as happy, if I didn't mix in active pursuits. Walking to and from the park (about 2 miles) with my wife and going to the gym a few times a week are an important part of my regime. I starting playing the guitar last spring. This is both a physical and a mental active activity. A few hours each week are spent in the garden or house maintenance.

If you paint, or dance, or jog, keep it up. If all your current physical condition will allow you is a slow amble to the end of the block and back, go for it. If you can't do that, some basic isometric exercises involve nothing more than a chair or a wall in your home or apartment (or even RV).  

Take on a new challenge, either physical or mental (or both). In the book, The Joy of Not Working the author says it best: "just because something is difficult is no reason for not doing it."  We all have a fear of failing, or looking silly when we try a new sport or hobby or taking a class at the local college. But, the truth of the matter is no one else really cares how well you do something. They are  having the same thoughts about their performance!

Personally, I have a tickler in my calendar that prompts me to tackle a new project or explore a new subject every three months. This forces me out of my comfort zone and keeps me engaged. At the moment, in addition to trying to learn the guitar well enough to play some Christmas carols in a few months, I am building a small electronic project. I am not technically oriented. I don't normally have the patience to solder together small electronic pieces. But, it is something I want to try. The worst that could happen is it ends up in the trashcan and I spent a few dollars and a few hours. But, it wouldn't be a waste or a failure. To not even try would be a failure.

One of the blogs I follow is Mildly Creative. A posting entitled Don't Leave Yourself Stranded on the Runway presents a quick and on-target summary of this point using a very effective airplane metaphor. I notice the author is changing his blog address and the focus of his efforts but will maintain all the great stuff I enjoy so much. I'll update the link at some point soon.

In future posts on this topic I'll pass along some thoughts on socializing, sports, hobbies, and ways to keep your mental powers perking. But, for now, please do not fall into the deadly trap of too many retirees and think an easy chair, a remote, snacks, and a walk to the mailbox is what you have earned for yourself after all those years on the job.

What you have earned for yourself is the opportunity to do just the opposite. Weigh (pun intended) your choices seriously. It can be a matter of life and death.

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