This is why the 50-60 decade is so important for laying the foundations for older age. It’s a time for embracing your age, recognizing all the positives, taking up new hobbies and interests, and also for developing new friendships. Staying connected with friends and family above all else, with a positive and outgoing attitude, is a key ingredient to a happy and healthy older age.
One tends to think that the big changes in life are when you are younger, but entering the third quarter of your life is another landmark passage. We need to think more about our health and stay young in attitude. 50 is the new 40 as the saying goes, so at 70 life is still full of opportunities and challenges, even if you have to do them a little more slowly!
So here is our top 10 list of ways to stay fit, healthy and young at heart as we age:
1. Focus on regularly doing the activities that you enjoy
Carry on doing the activities you enjoy, and if you find them too energetic try something new. Swap tennis for golf, learn bridge, enroll in an adult education class and learn a language for example. Start a book club or join a walking group. This way you will keep up with friends and make new ones. Engage with your grandchildren as they will definitely keep you young at heart.
2. Learn something new – challenge yourself
There are so many opportunities nowadays to broaden your horizons and keep the brains cells active. With new freedoms of being child free and retired you will have more time to do the things you never had the opportunity to do before, like attending or perhaps giving, a U3A class, or improving your computer skills in a local workshop
3. Get involved with your community
Getting involved in the community is stimulating and rewarding. There are loads of opportunities, from working in a charity shop or hospice to becoming a school governor, a magistrate, a CAB advisor or joining a fund raiser for a local charity. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people and broaden your horizons.
4. Eat healthily
Eating healthily and keeping fit are so important. Follow a balanced diet, and keep active. Making sure you eat the right food to sustain a healthy body and maintaining your immune system is even more important as you get older. Being conscious of your diet is essential -what you eat and drink will have much more impact on your skin than any amount of expensive face creams, and what you eat and how you process your food directly impacts on your physical and emotional health as well as your energy levels.
5. Try to exercise at least every other day
Exercise is essential for good health, but you have to make it work for you. Do something you enjoy and aim to do some form of exercise every other day – there really is no point in being unrealistically ambitious, or it just won’t happen. Exercise is guaranteed to make you feel refreshed and energized, and apart from the obvious benefits of feeling fitter, it will improve digestion and mental agility and keep you supple. Mix it up a bit too so you don’t get bored. Choose something you will enjoy doing, and resolve to do it first thing in the morning. Set a realistic goal, and do it with a friend so that you commit. Pilates, yoga, tai chi? They are all fabulous for keeping supple without slipping a disc!
6. Sleep well
It is a recognized fact that we don’t get enough sleep and a good night’s sleep is a recipe for renewed vitality, which will in itself generate even more zest and energy. Start a bedtime ritual, avoid coffee and alcohol if possible and don’t spend concentrated time on your computer after early evening. Create the right setting, keep the heating not too high and the curtains drawn. Get stuck into a good book!
7. Keep your wits about you: keep your mind sharp
Learn a language, join an internet distance learning programme, start trying to do the daily cryptic crossword (you will get the hang of it quickly if you check with the solutions of the previous day). Bridge is a great way to exercise your brain and socialize at the same time. There are many affordable classes at community centers or colleges.
8. Smile and laugh
Smile, and the world smiles with you as the saying goes. Smiling makes you feel better and as an added bonus you exercise a huge number of facial muscles, which is great for the wrinkles. Surprise friends with a spontaneous invitation to tea, for a walk, for a visit to a National Trust property. Book the cinema, and spend time with the people that make you laugh – its catching and is a great feel good therapy. We don’t giggle enough! Try a zumba class and relax into the beat of the music– I guarantee you will come out smiling.
9. Confidence is key
Embrace aging like a good red wine. Maturity brings lots of advantages along with a few wrinkles and grey hairs. You can wear what you want, and you have the freedom to do what you want. Age brings with it the confidence to be different, and to “ wear purple”. Beauty shines from the inside – believe in yourself
10. Pet therapy
As long as it won’t be a tie to a new and active retirement, get a dog or a cat. They are marvelous companions especially if you live alone. A dog will gaze at you longingly every day until you take it out for a walk, and you will find yourself walking in all weathers whereas before you may have not ventured out. Human interaction with a pet gives companionship, and is proved to be calming, both physically and emotionally.
The importance of staying active and engaging in the things that you enjoy should not be underestimated, especially as you grow older. Care homes and retirement villages alike have noted the impact this can have on their resident’s quality of life. Highclere house care home in Weymouth is a classic example of the establishments that are adopting this approach to retirement. By incorporating a number of activities into their resident’s day to day schedule, they encourage socialisation and physical stimulation, encouraging a good quality of life, throughout retirement.
So as you can see; there is life after retirement and absolutely no need to see it as a pending death sentence. Instead you could see it as your second lease on life – embracing all the activities that you always wanted to do, but were too busy to pursue.