Aging is an inevitable life process that all of us face every day. Women in the United States have an average life expectancy of 81 years old and with aging come a lot of new changes to our bodies and to our lives as a whole. While most of us probably think these changes will be negative, that doesn’t have to be the case. We all hold the power to take control of our health and guide ourselves through retirement on a happy and healthy path, it’s just up to us to make the decision of whether or not good health is worth the effort.
When I say effort, I don’t mean eating bland, boring foods and spending hours in the gym. On the contrary, the path to good health is one of the most enjoyable journeys you can make. With more and more retirees entering the long term care system, and women making up about 80% of all nursing home patients, it is important to do all that we can to keep ourselves from becoming part of that cycle. These four tips can help you succeed on your path to harnessing good health and keep you active in both mind and body throughout retirement.
1) Eat real food.
As our society becomes more and more focused on convenience eating, we often lose out on some of the most basic forms of nourishing our health. Real food is one of those that has been lost along the way. We have replaced real food with processed, food-like substances that are empty of nutrients and do nothing to boost our health. Instead of opting for those types of fast food, opt for the original fast foods like fruit and vegetables, which are quite inexpensive and require little to no preparation!
Keep in mind that while cheap food may seem like the best option short-term, those foods have serious effects on our health that we may be paying for later on in the form of healthcare bills. With heart disease leading as the nation’s top killer for both men and women, it’s important to remember that the type of food you consume has a long term effect on your body.
2) Move your body.
Exercise is another undervalued aspect of our society. Too often, people get into cycles of exercising for a few weeks or months, then completely fall off the wagon. One reason this might happen is because we become enamored with intense exercises that really aren’t all that enjoyable. Rather than partaking in exercises that you don’t like just to see physical effects, choose low impact exercises that are enjoyable and have long term effects on both your physical and mental health.
A recent study found that in older adults, just three 40-minute brisk walks every week can result in brain growth up to 2%. Those who didn’t exercise saw brain shrinkage of about the same amount. Exercise isn’t just for your body, but it fuels your mind, too, and can decrease depression and anxiety while boosting creativity.
3) Engage with others.
Having an active social life is one of the best stimulants for our brains. Studies have found that while speaking with family members and loved ones can slightly help keep our brains from degenerating, it is truly the engaging socialization with other friends in different settings that have the most profound effect on maintaining a healthy brain and memory.
As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s sweeps the nation, it’s crucial to remember the importance of getting out of your house and doing things that keep you mentally active. Whether that is volunteering with a local non-profit organization, joining a book club and attending the regular meetings, or just going out to lunch with friends every week, all of these activities can help keep your brain spry and reduce the isolation that so often leads to dementia.
4) Prioritize your finances.
Though eating real food, exercising regularly, and engaging with others can be powerful forces in keeping you healthy, there is still no guarantee that you will be in perfect health forever. A bad fall, a sudden illness, or any other health problem can pop up and require care for anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Nearly all financial studies have found that women aren’t nearly as prepared as men are when it comes to saving for retirement. Women tend to focus on the emotional aspects of these issues rather than the tangible ones, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In order to ensure you will be prepared in all ways, though, spend some more time nailing down specific financial goals for yourself.
Harnessing your health doesn’t have to be an arduous task. Quite often, it can be enjoyable to start doing things that are truly beneficial to your health. Once we get into the habit of these things, the amazing benefits we feel far outweigh the negatives we ever saw as obstacles to good health. Take the time to care for yourself and you will be much more likely to enjoy your years in retirement.