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4 Tips to a Healthier Retirement

Have you recently reached a career milestone, or gotten a promotion? Or, have you already retired?

After you accomplish something meaningful, there’s nothing better than allowing yourself a reward, or even an extended period of downtime.

Some people retire and spend almost every second doing things they love. And why not? It is, after all, your time.

Unfortunately, doing too much of some of your favorite retirement activities, things like patronizing the newest restaurants, traveling, drinking a vintage bottle of wine, or spending weeks relaxing by the shore, these things aren’t going to keep you healthy.

And, if done to excess, they could actually shorten your life.

Now and then, we can all benefit from being reminded to do the things that are really good for us. These include:

  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Starting to exercise
  • Going to see your doctor
  • Evaluating your diet

Interested in a little more than just healthy reminders?

Here are some of the ways that the four tips above improve your odds of living a longer, healthier retirement.

1) Why should you cut down on alcohol?

A lot of people enjoy a drink now and then.

But make no mistake, even moderate amounts of alcohol may be bad for you.

The difficult-to-stomach truth is that alcohol contributes to more than 60 medical conditions, including many cancers, high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis and depression. [1]

Everyone is different. And while it’s true, some people can drink more than others and never suffer the ill health effects, it’s also true that alcohol is a drug that negatively impacts every system in your body. [2]

2) Why exercise?

Exercise is as close to a magic bullet as exists in the world today. It strengthens bones, boosts mood and memory, improves balance, helps prevent chronic illness, and is great for your heart.

Simply, exercise is an essential part of healthy aging. [3]

A quick reminder: If you don’t yet exercise, see your doctor first. Work with him or her to decide what your fitness goals should be. Starting slow is terrific. (You don’t have to run marathons or ever set foot in a gym.) In fact, walking may be the best exercise of all. [4]

3) Why should you go see your doctor?

You’d be surprised how many people, folks with great insurance, don’t get an annual physical.

Is that you?

Getting your blood pressure measured, your cholesterol checked, your skin examined for changes, your vaccines and blood tests, it may not be fun, but staying healthy so you can enjoy your retirement virtually depends on it.

If you haven’t had a physical in over a year, I urge you to please make an appointment today.

4) Why should you evaluate your diet?

If you’re a foodie, you need to find balance. Many retirees understandably feel that they’ve earned the right to indulge, and restaurant hopping is a nice reward for all your hard work.

But too much of a good thing can damage your health.

Every tip on this list is equally important, and each one is a big part of living well in retirement. And while I’m obviously not a physician, I’ve spent my career working with people over the age of 50.

So while I can tell you the basics of a good diet, things like limiting sugar, working to eliminate trans and saturated fats, and lowering your sodium intake (and we’ve already spoken about alcohol), best to leave diet to the professionals.

One of the big advancements in Western healthcare has been an increase in the awareness of the benefits of preventative medicine. This is especially true when it comes to your diet.

Don’t know where to begin? Check with your health insurance provider, or directly with your personal physician, and see what dietary guidelines they can recommend, and whether they have dietitians in your network (many do).

The fact is that people who eat a healthier diet, on average, spend less money on healthcare than those who eat less healthily.

Conclusion

I’ve worked with many clients, people I consider friends, for 10, 15 or even 20 years.

You don’t work that closely with people for that long without coming to care about their well-being.

As I would for friends, or even family members, my suggestions here are twofold: First, your retirement isn’t only about money. The fact is you won’t be able to enjoy the money you’ve saved nearly as much if you aren’t healthy.

Second, having worked so long with so many terrific people, I, of course, want to bring greater awareness to how we can age better and be healthier. Learn more about the “retire well” philosophy of Allworth Financial.

[1] Daily Mail February, 2016
[2] 10 Risks of Regular Drinking December 8th, 2015
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[4] Vogue May 18th, 2016