As I write this article, I’m reminded of the old saying, “your health is everything.” In this case people normally mean physical health is everything, because without it, you have nothing.
It doesn’t matter how good your retirement plan was, or how many years you made sacrifices to position yourself comfortably for retirement.
If you make it to retirement and didn’t protect your health, or an unforeseen health issue arises, in the most extreme cases your plan may be worthless.
This happened to my step-mother, cancer took what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of her life, retirement.
Unfortunately, in many cases of extreme illness, hereditary and environmental factors can be much more powerful than healthy lifestyle.
I’m again reminded of the value of good health because, as I write this, I’m in quarantine recovering from a mild case of COVID-19.
In the end, you can’t worry about every little thing that could go wrong. But you can take better care of yourself with a few smart lifestyle choices.
These positive choices could mean the difference of not just years, but quality of life in retirement.
Exercising As We Age
I’m always amazed that magazines are still in print when I walk in a grocery or convenience store. After I come to terms with that amazement, I normally glance at the covers.
I’m equally amazed that health-related magazines just have the latest generations of good-looking people with rock hard abs.
Every now and then there’s an older person on the cover. But they’re normally on there because they’re good-looking and still have rock hard abs.
At the other end of the spectrum is the retirement population, generally senior citizens.
In recent years, exercise programs for seniors, such as Silver Sneakers, have become more popular. This is in part because there’s even the potential of a free gym membership buried in some insurance coverage.
But, for those that fall somewhere in the middle, where are the health magazines and programs for you?
This demographic represents a broad age range that’s no longer looking for extreme athletic prowess. But is still too young to worry about getting out of a chair.
So how should you exercise when you’re no longer looking for peak performance, or can still stand up unaided? In my case, workouts have shifted from a performance focus, to rehabilitation and longevity.
My nutritional intake has always been better than most. I’m lucky to be married to a doctor of clinical nutrition, thanks Dietitian Doc.
If you’re not so lucky, remember, “garbage in, garbage out.”
Aging is Complex
It’s actually much more complex than that as we age because the garbage doesn’t necessarily come out. It stays in our bodies as fat, hardens arteries, and can cause other health issues if we’re not careful.
Too much extra weight and build-up can cause numerous health problems for blood flow, sugar levels, joints, etc. So nutrition is a key aspect of physical health as we age.
And then there’s sleep and stress. If your body can’t recharge and if it’s always in a strained state, you might find you don’t feel your best. Sleep deficiencies often come with age, as does stress in our daily lives.
If you’re in the broad age range mentioned earlier, you’re probably nodding in agreement at this point. But what can you do about it?
Get Started Today
Well, lace up your old sneakers, grab an apple, and prepare to run, wait, prepare to walk at your best pace towards a healthier future. Luckily, you’ve just begun your journey to better physical health by taking time to read this short blog.
Now make a little more time in your day to learn the basics about exercise, diet, sleep, and stress. Most importantly carve out a little more time for exercise and stress management.
But wait, I know you’re already stressed out about not having any time. So this blog didn’t mean to imply that you need to add extra events to your already busy day.
When you wake up try to have a little less caffeine and a little better breakfast that limits processed, high fat, and sugary foods.
During your morning commute try to do some deep breathing exercises. When you get to work, park a little further away and take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator.
Keep exercise bands at your desk and do a quick set and short stroll around the office hourly, or when you have a break. If you have the option, use a sit/stand desk that allows you to alternate working positions.
At lunch choose vegetables, lean meats, lower fat options, and limit caffeine intake.
While we’re on caffeine, it can stay in your system for up to eight hours. So try to end your caffeine intake eight to ten hours before bedtime.
If you have time to exercise, do it consistently and don’t find excuses to skip sessions. If not, when you get home try to do something physical.
Anything remotely physical is better than trading an office chair and computer screen for a recliner and a smart phone or TV screen.
At bedtime do a few minutes of deep breathing exercises and limit TV, pad, or smart phone screen time to allow your body to adjust. If you have no idea how to deep breathe there’s a free app called Breathe2Relax available for your smart devices.
You might have a preconceived notion about the utility of breathing techniques? What if I told you that a lot of America’s elite special operators use these techniques on a routine and as needed basis. Would that help ease your concerns?
In the end, take the first step to healthier habits if you haven’t already. Then, consistently look at your lifestyle and try to implement healthy routines into your daily life.