Why staying active in retirement is critical for women

Have you ever considered how the ideas of health and wealth are intertwined?

In most cases, our goals for retirement often require a balance of both—the physical capacity to do the things we love and the financial ability to make it happen. You’ve diligently saved and strategized about retirement for decades, now’s the time to enjoy it.

That’s why your health in retirement is just as vital as your wealth.

Women, especially, are more likely to spend longer in retirement than men. That’s because, on average, women live 5.1 years longer than their male counterparts.1 And with a few extra years to prepare for, maintaining your fiscal and physical wellbeing is crucial to enjoying the retirement you’ve always dreamed of.

What do I mean by “active”?

If you had to put a dollar amount to the concept of “total financial freedom,” everyone would come up with different answers. Ideas like wealth and financial independence are relative to your goals and lifestyle. Similarly, the idea of being active will differ from person to person.

The amount and type of activity you enjoy in retirement should fulfill your own needs and well-being. With that in mind, there’s no need to overexert yourself to compete with or compare to others. In fact, this could result in the opposite effect, like serious injury or activity burnout.

Simply taking a brisk walk in the morning or soaking up the sun in your garden could be enough to bring an invigorating start to your day. Hardier exercises like swimming, running, tennis, or yoga may also be appropriate depending on your health and comfort level.

Whatever activity brings you joy and movement, stick to it. The important thing is that you participate in several minutes of non-static activity every day, whatever that means to you.

4 reasons to get active in retirement

Retirement can be amazing—it’s time for yourself that’s possible because you’ve achieved financial independence. So making the most of it should include creating fun, fulfilling activities you can stick to every day. Here’s why.

Reason #1: Reduce your risk for health concerns

As we age, our health changes. We experience “new normals” (something the whole world is growing accustomed to) and have to work a little harder to maintain physical fitness—something none of us can get around.

With that in mind, staying active in retirement is an effective way to help reduce the risk of some long-term health concerns. Heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all things we can proactively work to reduce by getting up and moving regularly. The CDC recommends older adults get about 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, equal to about an hour a day.2

Reason #2: Get deeper, sounder sleep

Less stress and more activity is the perfect formula for a good night’s sleep.

Again, here’s where health and wealth go hand-in-hand. Gaining the clarity and comfort you need surrounding your money is essential for reducing anxiety. An all-encompassing personal financial plan can help alleviate financial stress, giving the peace of mind necessary to better enjoy a good night’s sleep.

From a physical health standpoint, better sleep is linked to better overall health and longevity.

And one easy way to improve your sleep?

Getting in some physical activity throughout the day.

Being physically active during the day can help your body achieve more restorative sleep at night. A poll by the Sleep Foundation found that upwards of 83% of respondents reported “very good” or “fairly good” sleep quality after engaging in an exercise of varying intensity.3

Reason #3: Help prevent falls & injury

Falls for older adults can cause serious injury. Around 36 million older adults take a tumble every year, with about 3 million falls resulting in a trip to the ER.4 Nothing can put a damper on your plans in retirement like an injury, especially one that you can work to avoid.

An unexpected injury can result in medical bills that Medicare or supplemental insurance may not fully cover. Hospital stays, physical therapy, in-home care, and time off work are just a few examples of how a fall or injury can throw a wrench in your plans.

Regular exercise, like yoga and strength training, is essential for maintaining better balance and alignment. According to Dr. Peter Attia, there are four often-overlooked components of exercise that most older adults should focus on:

  • Stability
  • Strength
  • Aerobic efficiency
  • Anaerobic peak

Here’s his video on the framework for exercise to learn more about these categories and how they help prevent falls and injury.

Reason #4: Restore your mental health & well-being

At the root of your retirement, having wealth is about much more than money. It’s maintaining a balancing act between your physical health, mental health, relationship to loved ones, spirituality, and more.

If you find that parts of your well-being are off-balance, discovering a way to restore them is imperative to your overall happiness. Try out a few beneficial methods to reset, such as taking a long walk, meditating, reading a book, or talking to a trusted professional.

Ready to stay active in retirement?

At the end of the day, your retirement is what you make it. If that means running a marathon every year, I look forward to seeing you at the finish line. If quiet, quality time with loved ones is more your speed, you should prioritize that time.

I encourage everyone to pursue what fulfills them most. Creating and living a retirement you’ve always wanted should encompass all aspects of your well-being.

If you find yourself struggling to maintain or rebalance any part of your life, I’m always here to help.

P.S. Are you enjoying an active lifestyle in retirement? I’d like to share your stories with others. Let me know if you’re available to discuss on Women’s Retirement Radio, the Wealthcare for Women podcast.


Sources:

  1. The National Center for Health Statistics: National Vital Statistics System, March 2021
  2. CDC: How much physical activity do older adults need?
  3. Sleep Foundation: Exercise and Sleep
  4. CDC: Facts About Older Adult Falls