5 Ways to Stay Healthy During Retirement

Retirement can change your routine big time. Gone are the days of the stressful work week—now, you have a lot more free time to relax, watch TV, have a snack and generally lead a more sedentary lifestyle if you so choose. But retirement doesn’t have to be a health pitfall. You can maintain your wellness habits and also make new ones. Here are some tips on how to stay healthy during retirement.

Get enough sleep

Chances are you’ll be in a new sleep cycle when you become a retiree. For years, you’ve been getting up and going to bed around the same time during the work week. Now? You can choose to keep your sleep schedule the same or adjust it. Even if you decide to go to bed later and sleep later, the Mayo Clinic recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep.1

Need help improving your sleep? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that consistency is key.2 Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable. Consider keeping phones and other electronic devices out of the room. Find which schedule works for you during this new stage of life.

Nourish yourself

“The link between good nutrition and healthy weight, reduced chronic disease risk, and overall health is too important to ignore,” says the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).3 A good starting point for choosing what to eat is selecting foods low in added sugar, saturated fat and sodium, as outlined by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Center For Nutrition.4 What you put in your body is one of the most important decisions you can make when it comes to your health.

If you decide that your diet needs a tune-up, keep in mind your eating choices are specific to you. “There is no single, fit-for-all diet,” said Frank Hu in The Harvard Gazette’s “To age better, eat better.”5 Hu is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology as well as medicine at Harvard Medical School. “People should adopt healthy dietary patterns according to their food and cultural preferences and health conditions.”

Laugh out loud

That’s right—guffaw, giggle and have a good laugh. Laughing is not only enjoyable, but it has numerous health benefits. The Mayo Clinic says that laughter can release tension and improve your immune system.6 So, find some funny jokes, read an amusing book, watch a silly movie—whatever it takes to make you chuckle. Seek out humor in your day.

Break a sweat

Exercise and mental health go hand in hand. A study by The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Research Matters, indicates that exercise plays a role in regulating our mood, such as helping with depression.7 Not to mention, exercise is great for staying healthy both mentally and physically by reducing the risk of certain diseases.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to a gym. Swimming and walking are both great. And Harvard researchers are learning the many benefits of exercises such as tai chi in helping to promote balance and mobility and potentially reducing falls.8 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends two-and-a-half to five hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.9 If you prefer more intense aerobic activity, reduce the time to somewhere between 75 minutes and two-and-a-half hours, spread over the week.

Pursue hobbies

In our view, the body and mind are meant to be used, and the best retirement is one with days that are filled with activities. Pick up a new hobby. Write weekly letters or emails to friends. Do a puzzle. Play an instrument. Learn something new. Join a book club. Take a cooking class. Teach a cooking class. Volunteer. The possibilities really are endless—and almost anything that has you moving and socially engaging can be positive for your mental and physical health.

Incorporating one of these five health practices is good, but utilizing all of them is even better—not to mention a great step toward having a more enjoyable retirement.


1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
2 https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep/index.html
3 https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/importance-of-good-nutrition/index.html
4 https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/tentips/DGTipsheet1ChooseMyPlate_0.pdf
5 https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/05/much-of-life-is-beyond-our-control-but-dining-smartly-can-help-us-live-healthier-longer/
6 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
7 https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/physical-activity-helps-reduce-depression-symptoms
8 https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/tai-chi-can-prevent-elderly-from-falls-add-mental-agility/
9 https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html


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