Creating a Fitness Plan in Retirement: 7 Tips for Getting Active

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August 6, 2018
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Creating a Fitness Plan in Retirement: 7 Tips for Getting Active

You’ve spent many years working toward the goal of retirement. All the planning and saving has finally paid off, and now your time belongs to you. Will you be healthy enough to enjoy your new-found freedom? Just as you created and followed a financial plan to reach your retirement goals, it’s equally important to devise a physical activity plan. After all, you have much to accomplish in this new phase of your life. You want to make sure you’re strong enough and fit enough to enjoy it all.

It’s no secret that regular exercise reduces the risk of many illnesses and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, cognitive decline, and even some types of cancer. If you had a job that required physical activity, or you’ve never been one to sit still, you will need to maintain a certain level of activity in retirement. However, if you’ve leaned more to a sedentary existence, now is a good time to develop new habits to get you up and moving.

Most Americans are well-aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle. In fact, according to an AARP online survey conducted in April 2018, 84% of adults over age 50 agree that exercise boosts general health, and 83% believe it improves fitness. Yet, the majority of survey respondents claimed to spend less than 30 minutes per week engaging in exercise, and 26% of Americans over 50 do not exercise at all.

Perhaps the key to inspiring people to be more active is to change their outlook on the notion of “exercise”.  Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or painful. Below are seven tips for making changes to your lifestyle that will positively impact your physical and mental well-being and maybe even add years onto your life.

  1. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Of course, you wouldn’t choose an activity you dislike or there will be no motivation for you to stick with it. Whether you like to garden, walk on the beach, play 18 holes of golf, or join the tai chi class in the park, it’s all good. The activity is not as important as your efforts to keep doing it.
  2. Get a physical check-up. Talk to your doctor about your exercise goals and discuss any current medical conditions and physical restrictions. Have a conversation about which activities are safe, and which should be avoided. Remember, you want to get healthy, not injured.
  3. Find an exercise buddy or partner. If you think exercising solo will be boring, find a like-minded friend to join you. Making a commitment to an exercise partner will keep you accountable and more likely to follow through.
  4. Create a routine. You probably eat breakfast around the same time every day and walk your dog on a regular schedule. Make exercise a part of your schedule, too. Unless you make it part of your “routine”, it’s unlikely that you will find a convenient time to walk, jog, bike, or do whatever you selected as your choice activity.
  5. Start small. Overambitious goals can lead to burnout. It’s great if you aspire to run a 5K, but if you have never been a runner, start out by walking and build from there. Short-term goals are more attainable and achieving them is a great boost to your ego. Again, the important thing is to get up and get active.
  6. Look for easy ways to add more activity into your life. Little things can mean a lot, so take advantage of any opportunities that will put you in a state of motion. Take your dog for a walk. He can probably use the exercise, too! Walk or bike to nearby places you would otherwise drive. When you do drive, don’t take the nearest parking space to the building. Park farther out and make yourself walk. Declutter and organize a closet, or your whole house.
  7. No excuses allowed. It can be easy to procrastinate on your workout because you’re tired or the weather is not cooperating. If it’s cold or rainy, head to the shopping mall and walk some laps. You can even walk around your living room while watching TV instead of sitting in a chair. If you really are tired, at least fit in a small amount of exercise. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services guidelines on physical activity, adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week, such as brisk walking, tennis, or even gardening. These guidelines apply to adults of all ages, even those aged 65 and older, provided they are fit and have no limiting chronic conditions. That’s why it’s essential to talk with your doctor and find out what level of activity is appropriate for you.

Ultimately, all the exercise tips and encouragement in the world may still not convince you to like exercising. In that case, your decision to get up and move will depend on what motivates you in life. Do you want to be strong enough to carry your luggage and survive two weeks of tours when you take that trip abroad? Or maybe you want the stamina to chase your grandkids around the backyard. Figure out what matters to you. Being active may be the key that enables you to reach that goal.

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