Retirees, now that you’re off the 40 hour clock, you finally have time to focus on your health. You may be tempted to shut off the alarm clock and curl up in bed each morning, but it’s better that you get up and start your day. Extra time to relax is a good thing that comes with retirement, but that extra time offers an opportunity to do more. Yes, spending time with grandchildren and pursuing other hobbies is desirable, but so is staying healthy throughout your retirement years. Here are few things that have helped me put my health first during my retirement:
Get a good night’s sleep
Everyone wants it. But how do you get it?
Not getting enough sleep can increase daytime drowsiness, make you gain weight, and increase you risk for heart disease and stroke. Here’s a few tips that help me wake up feeling refreshed each day.
Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up.
Eat healthy meals and heart healthy snacks high in protein like nuts or yogurt.
“Stay hydrated during the day.”
You may be tempted to engage in a non-active lifestyle after retirement, but this does not promote good health. Ask your insurance providers about SilverSneakers, a free health program benefit for seniors enrolled in a Medicare Advantage health plan. It’s a great way to keep in shape and socialize.
Even low-impact physical activities such as gardening or household repairs, and in some cases, stretching, have their benefits. For the biggest boost to your retirement health, combine physical and mental exercise with a fun exercise like dancing. It can improve balance, cognitive acuity, and muscle memory.
Get a health checkup
Getting your annual health check up is probably the most important thing you can do for your overall health. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight is to understanding your current health status.
A change in diet like eating more fruits and vegetables, reduced coffee intake and increased water consumption could improve your mental and physical well-being. Also, schedule bi-yearly exams to help stay on target and download your health providers apps in order to stay connected with your physician.
Indulge your creative side
Studies show that retirees who engaged in creative hobbies were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who were intellectually inactive. Any type of mentally stimulating activity counts, so paint your masterpiece or practice guitar to your heartand mind’s-content.
Another activity could include sewing, quilting, making jewelry, cooking and even sports like golf, tennis or dancing classes. You might even consider going back to school and earning a degree. Some retirees have also considered starting a new career in an unrelated field.
Catch up with friends
Don’t lose some of the social network you had at your job. Planning frequent social activities—such as watching movies, attending sporting events, and playing games— is beneficial for everyone. Schedule early brunch gatherings, lunch get togethers or a brunch outing. You benefit from social interaction, physical activity, and emotional wellness, which in turn supports your overall health and wellbeing.
Alvin Wright is the guest retiree columnist for this issue of Benefits Pulse. He worked for the city from 1992 to 2016, serving with the Houston Police Department, briefly in Mayor Lee P. Brown’s Communications Office, and lastly with Houston Public Works.