In part 3 of our series on shaping your vision, we're exploring the value of maintaining good physical health in retirement.
Staying in good physical shape in retirement can help you enjoy the type of lifestyle you desire — along with some other benefits. As you continue developing your retirement vision, consider how staying healthy fits in to the plan. Here are some ideas.
Know the benefits
Your health can affect your retirement outlook in multiple ways.
First, staying active and healthy can reduce the need for doctor’s visits and medical care as you age. A research study of Canadian adults published in Preventive Medicine ReportsOpens a new window in your browser found a link between a sedentary lifestyle and a greater risk for developing health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Some of the health issues linked to a less active lifestyle can lead to more frequent doctor’s visits or the need to seek long-term nursing care earlier in life, which can carry an average cost of $1,849 to $2,641Opens a new window in your browser per month in Ontario. Staying active can delay the need for long-term care, preserving more of your savings for other retirement expenses.
And, the study suggests an active lifestyle can lead to a longer life span overall, giving you more time to enjoy yourself in retirement.
Customize your retirement fitness
As you think about how you'll manage your health in retirement now, don't forget to consider the type and amount of physical activity you want to engage in, any diet and weight considerations, and your doctor's advice and guidance.
Your plan should be tailored to your goals, expectations and abilities as you age. For instance, we all see a change in our stamina or muscle tone as we get older. In that case, swapping out high-impact activities for low-impact ones to prevent injuries is a good idea. You may also need to make adjustments to your diet if certain foods aren't as agreeable as they once were.
As you move into your 60s, talk to your doctor about the types of physical activities that are best suited to your lifestyle, needs and overall health. Discuss whether joining a retirement-friendly gym is a good choice and what types of classes or activities would be appropriate. Get their opinion on any new foods, activities or health trends you're interested in.
Work with your doctor to set some baselines for measuring health. For instance, there may be a certain weight range you should be aiming for. Or, your doctor may specify a minimum amount of physical activity you should be getting each day or week, based on your age.
By penciling in time for regular checkups and age-appropriate health screenings, you're being proactive in how you manage your health. Talk with your doctor about preventative measures to minimize the chances of developing a serious health condition later in life.
Also, familiarize yourself with the most common types of injuries you may encounter as you age and how you can prevent them. Perhaps not surprising, Statistics CanadaOpens a new window in your browser confirms that Canadian seniors are more susceptible to falls than any other age group. Falls can lead to hip and leg injuries, back injuries, chronic pain, all of which can affect your ability to stay active in retirement.
Get in the health habit now
Staying active in retirement is easier when it's already part of your regular routine. If you don't get moving as often as you'd like today, look at your schedule to see how you can change that. Blocking off even 10 to 15 minutes a day for a walk around the neighbourhood can help you get in the swing of exercising regularly.
Technology can be a huge help in making physical fitness a priority. Staying active and managing your diet are easier when you're tracking activity or food intake with an app. These apps can integrate with a variety of smart devices, such as smart watches or smart water bottles. Together, these tools give you a more complete picture of your health.
Good health habits take time to build, but the longer you have until retirement to work on them, the more ingrained they're likely to become. Making small changes to your fitness routine in your 40s and 50s, and making these habits a priority as you plan for retirement, can set the tone for good health in your 60s, 70s, and beyond.
Read more of our series, How to Shape Your Retirement Vision and Bring It to Life:
How to Shape Your Retirement Vision and Bring It to Life