Retirement is often viewed as purely a time for relaxation. After a lifetime of hard work, the thinking goes, retirement finally offers the opportunity to slow down. While this may be true in some ways, retirement also offers a valuable opportunity to become more physically active. In fact, regular exercise is one of the secrets to having a long, happy retirement.
Retirement should be a time for enjoyment — but it’s hard to enjoy life if you are limited physically. Unfortunately, as the body ages, losses in physical ability are common. Among the negative effects often experienced are weakened bones, reductions in coordination, balance, and strength, and weight gain. The best solution is exercise. Regular physical exertion can slow, stop, or even reverse the physical declines that commonly affect aging bodies.
Many new retirees have not made a regular habit of exercise in their life. Some may not have worked out in years, or even decades. If this applies to you, don’t cry over spilled milk — it’s never too late to begin exercising. Physical activity is highly beneficial at any age. Go ahead and start. Just remember to take it slowly at first — and consult with your doctor, since over-exertion in older people can result in heart attacks, strokes, or dangerous falls.
Generally, relatively light exertion is ideal for people in their senior years. Simple activity should be the goal, not arduous, exhausting workouts. Among the best options are low-intensity cardio exercises like walking or jogging. Swimming or water aerobics, which are both easy on the joints, can be especially good for retirees. Forms of recreation like dancing or gardening can be valuable as well. Light weight work can be a good way to retain muscle, while systems of organized stretching (such as yoga or tai chi) are a fantastic way for seniors to maintain their coordination, balance and flexibility. Overall, the goal should simply be to get up and move — too many retirees are content with unhealthy sedentary lifestyles.
Being in good physical condition just might be the biggest key of all to enjoying a happy, rewarding retirement. Significant losses in physical ability make it difficult to live well and get what you want from life. Luckily, regular physical activity can do a great deal to preserve health, even deep into retirement. Whether you have already retired or are merely approaching your senior years, regular exercise is a habit you should adopt.
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