By Kate Benzin
When you’re looking forward to retirement, you might think that you’ll start a fitness regime once you finish your last day of work. After all, you’ll have so much free time that you’ll finally be able to devote an hour or two each day to physical exercise.
Did you actually do that once you retired? Probably not. And yet, building fitness into your daily routine is even more important once you’re retired than beforehand.
You probably didn’t realize how much activity was automatically built into your day while you were working, even if you were doing an office job. Once you retire, you may end up sitting around far more than when you were working. You might find yourself spending hours reading books and magazines that you had let accumulate over the years, binge watching television shows that you’d recorded but hadn’t had time to watch, sitting around with friends that you now have time for.
You may have found that your life has become more sedentary in other ways as well, but you get the point. Now you have to make it a point to work physical exercise into your daily routine. And with all your free time, you have no excuse not to do just that.
When you were young, you could jump into playing softball or volleyball without thinking twice. You’re not that same person any longer, but you can increase your physical activity, regardless of your age. The trick is to start slowly and increase your activity little by little.
Jordan Metzl, author of The Exercise Cure and sports-medicine physician at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, recommends that retirees focus on a particular activity that they like and set a goal that can be reached gradually. For example, you might have a goal of being able to walk five miles in two hours. Start slowly and build up to that goal little by little. Don’t expect too much from yourself when you start.
The following chart shows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the amount of activity older adults should have each week.
|Older adults should increase their activity to:
5 hours (300 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and
2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) each week of vigrous-intensity aerobic activity and
An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
Adapt Your Habits
In addition to purposely getting involved in a physical fitness regime, you can make changes in your daily routine to build more exercise into normal everyday activities.
- Park your car at the far end of the parking lot whenever you go shopping at the mall or the grocery store or when you go to a restaurant, a friend’s house, the doctor’s office. Just make it a habit to park your car a distance from your destination so that you build more walking into your day.
- Whenever possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. No need to run up or down the stairs. Take it nice and easy.
- Go the long way whenever you’re walking somewhere.
You can figure out other modifications in your daily routine that will give you the chance to be more active than sitting in your car driving somewhere. Even small alterations can lead you to lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, less back pain, better heart health, and improved health overall. Not only will life be more pleasant, but you’ll spend less money on doctor bills.
Kate is a freelance writer who has lived on the island of Java for the past 30 years. Java became her home when she took a 3-month work assignment to train Indonesians on word processing equipment in Jakarta, and she fell in love with the adventurous lifestyle that she found there. She worked as a tour director in many countries of the world, but she now spends most of her time writing in her home/office in Yogyakarta, Central Java, which she shares with her two whippets and four Dalmatians. You can visit her at KateFreelanceWriter or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.