Tips to Stay Fit in Retirement

Fitness means different things to different people, and it’s not as difficult to maintain as you might think! For some it’s general health, no pain, eating well or having enough energy to get through the day. For others, it’s being able to run a marathon. I believe it’s very important when you are trying to “get fit,” that you first define what fit means to YOU. This definition can evolve as you find yourself feeling stronger and more able.

The key is effort. When I think of effort, I think of something outside of the norm, something that’s not routine to you. Activities of daily living are what we consider to be routine, bathing yourself, getting out of bed, shopping, going up and down stairs or getting up from a chair. Exercise should be something beyond what you do as your activities for daily living.

What happens when you stop moving?

There are things outside of our control that increase our fitness challenges, such as injuries, genetic issues or unexpected diseases that may just happen. However, not exercising can have major side effects as well, including:

  • Loss of strength, balance, endurance, flexibility
  • Increased fall risk
  • Loss of independence
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Sarcopenia

10 new habits to try over the next 10 weeks

Exercise and fitness don’t have to be intimidating. Simply incorporating a new habit each week can offer big results to your overall wellness. Here are some retirement health tips to get you started.

Week 1: Hydrate. Start your day with a big glass of water — nine cups daily for women, 13 for men.

Week 2: Stretch four to seven days a week. I consider flexibility the foundation of fitness.

Week 3: Get regular activity for at least 30 minutes, three days a week. Walk three days a week for 30-40 minutes, ride a bicycle or try an exercise video. The 30-40 minutes even can be broken into shorter increments.

Week 4: Manifest wellness. Keep a gratitude journal recording five or six things, every day, for which you are grateful.

Week 5: Rest! Get eight hours of sleep every day and allow yourself one restful day a week.

Week 6: Add resistance training two to three days a week.

Week 7: Read helpful books and articles. I recommend Food Rules by Michael Pollan.

Week 8: Kitchen makeover. Time to make the transition to healthier eating. Make nutrition a focus. For example, decrease sugar and add greens daily.

Week 9: Increase activity. Pick an activity that you enjoy or have wanted to try and add 30-60 minutes of that, per week, to your routine from week 3.

Week 10: Give up or modify a bad habit. Say no to pop (regular or diet), sugary drinks or flavored, sweetened coffees, no more talking badly about yourself, limit fast food to once every four to six weeks, limit dessert to once a week.

Simple tips for success

  1. Stay consistent. It’s a common mistake to think changes will happen immediately or quickly. Tell your friends and family what you are doing and ask for their support.
  2. Incorporate bits of exercise into already established habits of the day. Try calf raises or deep breathing while in line at the grocery store, shoulder blade squeezes, ab crunches or neck stretches while stopped in traffic, or shoulder rolls while you cook.
  3. Set goals. Pick a specific goal, make it measurable and write it down! Writing it down will greatly increase the chance of success. It’s great to look back at these notes and see what you’ve accomplished.
  4. Keep it simple and fun!

Written by Shannon Kirkendall, Former Fitness Coordinator at Friendship Village Columbus