How To Stay Healthy And Active During Retirement - Functional Advantage
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How To Stay Healthy And Active During Retirement

Here at Functional Advantage Physical Therapy the majority of patients we see are 50 years old or older and a popular question we get from those patients is…

“How can I stay healthy and active in retirement?”

Most of the problems we see, such as back pain and knee pain, do NOT come as a result of being overly active, as people might think. They usually come on as a result of doing nothing.

Before we get to how you can stay as healthy and active as possible during retirement, we need to go over possible health risks of being inactive when you are aged over 50. 

Here is how retirement could be bad for your health...

I may be wrong, but I think many people fail to prepare for what could be the single most inactive period of their life –retirement and when you are over 60.

If you’re in your fifties, you’ve probably thought about what to do in your retirement and all that you would like to accomplish. You've worked hard to get to this point and it is very exciting! But here’s the problem: most people only ever consider the financial part of retirement and don't think too much about how they are going to stay busy and active on a day to day basis. 

Have you ever gone on a 2 week long (or longer) vacation?

Most people love the thought of having two whole weeks to do nothing but relax, but then, they start to think about getting back home and returning to their everyday routine. Doing nothing all day but lie on a beach may be relaxing and exciting at first, but gets old after awhile.

Many people get to a point well before their long vacation is over and they begin to realize they want to get home. Your home routine is appealing simply because you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do to fill your day. It’s happening because doing nothing other than sleeping, eating and drinking (for a long period of time) doesn’t always make you feel as great as you thought it would. Somehow, the routine that you were so keen to get away from is the very thing you want to get back to by the end.

And when you return from vacation most of the time you're more tired than when you left. Getting back into your fitness routine, nightly walks, and other healthy habits take much longer than you think.

So, what has this got to do with your retirement?

Well, think about it – if 14 days is too long a time to do nothing, what will it be like with the 20 or more years of inactivity which is coming your way in retirement? How will you cope when you’ve got all that time on your hands and you’re not sure how you’re even going to begin to fill it? Sure, the monthly income may be taken care of, but have you thought about the amount of spare time you’re going to need to fill?

We see it all the time at our clinic. Patients who have been in retirement and less active for years that develop lots of different aches and pains and even start having mobility issues that have led them to have a serious fall.  We would say that preparing for the activity side of retirement is just as important as preparing for the financial side of retirement.  

Why? First of all, the health benefits of being active are endless. For some people, in fact the majority of people, being forced to get up and go to work is likely to be their only source of activity. And besides, it’s a good thing to have some reason to get up on a morning and go and do something worthwhile.

Now, of course, we are not not suggesting that at 70 you should be on a construction site carrying bricks. But what we do suggest is that you find something to do, like volunteering in the community, or joining a group with other retired people.

We suggest this because...

Most of the problems we see, such as back pain and knee pain, do NOT come as a result of being overly active, as people might think. They usually come on as a result of doing nothing.

The real problem with getting older is that every day you wake up, you’re getting more and more stiff. You’re losing the flexibility of vital muscles and joints, a process which started at the age of about 40, and as this happens, you’re more and more likely to suffer from back, knee and shoulder problems.

Keeping active, even by going out to do some kind of work, can help slow down this ageing process.

So, if you’re in your 50s or 60s and starting to think about retirement, it’s important not just to consider the financial implications of your departure from work but the options available to you to keep yourself as active as possible.

Here are a few suggestions you could try to stay healthy and active during retirement…

1. Join a local gym that offers something like a Pilates, yoga, or senior fitness classes 

2. Start a daily swimming routine at your community pool 

3. Look for volunteer opportunities through your local church or school 

4. Get a group of friends together and start a walking club 

5. Join a league - golf is great for summer and bowling for winter

All these will help keep muscles and joints supple and most importantly, keep your mind active and sharp!

Why not start now??

Most people put activities  like this off, thinking there will be plenty of time to start when the retirement day finally arrives. But that’s really not the best way to do it. Habits are rarely formed so quickly and won't just start the day retirement finally arrives.

Try to get into good, healthy habits as quickly as possible – start today! In doing so, you’re going to give yourself the best chance you can of being active, healthy and happy, not only in your 50s and 60s but deep into your retirement.

If you want to start getting active but pain or mobility problems are holding you back...

It's never too late to start! We can help you find the REAL cause of your pain or mobility problems and give you possible solutions so you can get back to the activities you've been avoiding. Sign up for a free 20-minute consultation today. Click here to fill out a short form and we will take care of the rest!

Neil Sauer

Neil Sauer

Physical Therapist, Certified Health Coach and company owner Neil Sauer graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. During that time he played four years of collegiate soccer. Neil earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2006. He has taken continuing education courses for Stanley Paris manual therapy techniques and a Gary Gray Functional Training course. He has also taken selective functional movement assessment courses with the North American Sports Medical Institute (NASMI). Neil’s treatment philosophy goes beyond reducing pain and restoring motion/mobility. He has a passion for health and wellness and for improving the quality of life of his clients, and works holistically with them to ensure their injuries do not reoccur and that his clients enjoy optimal functionality. He strives to help his patients live more active, mobile and healthy lives knowing that they don’t have to rely on pain medications, injections or surgery. In his personal life, he is married and has two sons. During spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, spending time outdoors and leading an active and healthy life. Neil also likes to read as much as possible when he finds/makes time. He primarily reads books on leadership, business and special forces. An avid exercise enthusiast, he continually works to improve his own health and wellness.
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