9 tips to keep your mind and body sharp after retirement


You work hard all your life and the day you say goodbye to 9-5 is finally here. Exhale. Let the next chapter begin. One thing that should surely be at the top of your agenda is to keep your mind and body in top shape.

My resident health guru, also known as my retired husband, has a philosophy he lives by, “KEEP”: Keep moving, exercise your brain, eat little and healthily, and pray often. After talking to experts, he’s on the point. In our house he is the maker of Green Juice and Bush Tea (a combination of cerasee, lemongrass, vervine and other plants, of Jamaican origin, but now in health food stores all over the place) . I’m not retired, far from it, but I learn a lot by watching him get up early, walk 5 km three times a week, take care of the yard, fix this and that, cook meals rich in fish , light meat, include loads of veg or fruit, and have fun every day, whether it’s a chat with a neighbor or a dip in the ocean.

But, while he’s a guru to me, I’ve consulted those with references for their thoughts on what you should be doing to stay healthy in retirement.

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1. Stimulate your brain

When you have a skill, like playing the piano, you can do it from muscle memory. You don’t have to think about it a lot, if at all. However, if you are teaching someone, you need to be able to explain the concept and each step of the process for your student to be successful. “Teaching someone a new skill is one of the best ways to broaden your cognitive abilities and keep your mind sharp,” says James Dan, MD, Clinical Geriatric Advisor and Senior Helpers Board Member , a home care provider for the elderly.

He also likes word games. They improve mental capacity. Word searches can easily be found in newspapers and online. They activate several parts of the brain because the length and position of a word in the puzzle must be taken into account. Puzzles improve memory and focus, help with hand-eye coordination and critical thinking, and then there’s the satisfaction of completing them.

A variety of healthy foods
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2. Eat well

At any age, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains is good for you, but especially as you age, maintaining a balanced diet is essential. “Eat foods like fish, eggs, salmon, nuts, green tea and red wine to stimulate your brain,” says Victoria Glass, a doctor at the Farr Institute, a provider of medical research and information.

Additionally, Liana Casusi, MD, recommends eating smaller, more frequent meals to improve digestion and prevent stomach problems. “A balanced meal rich in fiber with enough protein, carbohydrates and fat provides the body and mind with a high quality source of energy to function properly. It’s just as important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, ”she says.

Stones on a beach at sunset
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3. Stay centered

“Engaging in meditation at least once a day is well known for its benefits such as anxiety and stress relief. Letting your body and brain rest will also help improve your overall memory and increase your brain’s ability to process information, ”says Dan.

Regularly practicing yoga is not only great for balance and mobility, it can also reduce stress. “Stress has been shown to be very damaging to the brain, reducing the areas responsible for memory and emotional control,” says Brett Larkin, founder and CEO of Uplifted Yoga, an online yoga school.

In fact, Kaivalya Certified Yoga Teacher Jeanine Duval says you might find yoga improves your sleep as well.

A line in a soup kitchen
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4. Volunteering

You have a lifetime of experience, share it. “Volunteering is one of the best things you can do in retirement because it not only gives you the ability to continue to interact with others, but it also gives you a sense of purpose which is another thing we do. tend to lose once we stop working, “says psychotherapist Christina Steinorth-Powell.

Studies show that volunteering, especially after retirement, improves memory and fights cognitive decline, she says.

Coffee cups with smiley faces
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5. Maintain connections

“It is not easy to stay connected with others as we age, family members are busy with their own lives and we lose touch with longtime friends, but maintaining a healthy social life is essential. for your mental and physical well-being, ”says Zachary Okhah, founder and chief surgeon of PH-1 Miami. He says studies show loneliness has been linked to depression, cognitive decline, blood pressure and heart disease.

Research indicates that regular social activities can benefit our well-being by boosting immunity, lowering blood pressure and improving memory, he says.

Look for ways to meet people. Take a fitness class, go to the library, or attend events at your place of worship.

Man with bicycle on calm road
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6. Exercise

You don’t have to pretend you’re training for the marathon. Walking, cycling, and swimming are activities that can increase your heart rate, causing increased oxygen being pumped into your brain. These endorphins released during exercise do wonders for your mood, memory, and thought process. Exercise can also help prevent diseases like diabetes, reduce stress and anxiety, says John Gardner, CEO and co-founder of Kickoff, which offers personal training and nutritional coaching services.

To increase your success factor, add variety to your routine. If you are bored, you might be tempted not to exercise. “Variety becomes more demanding as we get older and can be more difficult to accomplish both in movement and in other activities,” says Alyssa Kuhn, doctor of physiotherapy and founder of Keep the Adventure Alive.

The payoff, staying excited to keep moving forward, is well worth it.

Travel bags at the station
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7. Embrace the unknown

In the past, the clock may have been some kind of enemy. You never had enough time. Now you set the pace. Explore new things, whether it’s traveling or getting involved with a nonprofit. “Checking things off your to-do or learn something list can be a great way to find a new goal,” says Brian Wind, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University.

What activities were given up when you feared establishing and sustaining your career and raising a family? “Bring these things back into your life. Bring that feeling of happiness back to life and get that spirit working, ”said life coach Leah Veazey.

Neat bed with piles of towels
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8. Get enough rest and sleep

Just because you have the luxury of sleeping indoors doesn’t mean you’ll get as much sleep as you want. “Surprisingly, many retired patients find it difficult to get enough rest and sleep. Many of them complain of restlessness and insomnia, ”says Casusi.

It’s not too late to establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle. “Studies have shown that the natural body clock involves waking up early in the morning at sunrise, and similarly, sleeping early. Adapting to a predictable sleep-wake routine helps you feel well rested, ”she says.

Take advantage of the benefits of sleep such as the regulation of bodily functions such as digestion and the immune response. Make a good night’s sleep, 8 hours or your magic number, a priority. Treat yourself to comfortable and quality bedding products. You deserve it.

Smiling face stone
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9. Avoid mistakes

Maybe when you were younger you could eat anything. Now discipline matters. Diet is essential for physical and mental health. “If you eat poorly, there can be consequences such as weight gain, which can raise cholesterol levels and create health problems,” says Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, who specializes in aging and health care. to the elderly.

Be careful not to drown out the negativity. “Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do,” says James Owens, author of Just Move! A new approach to fitness after 50 years. Don’t internalize the cultural narrative that describes older people as weak, slow, and vulnerable once they reach a certain age.

“When it gets harder to climb those stairs than before, it’s easy to focus on what you’ve lost. But don’t get stuck in the past. Maybe your joints are telling you you can’t run anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t walk or walk. Staying positive and thinking about all the activities that are still open to you will help fuel your mental and physical energy, ”says Owens.

Another huge mistake is not reaching out to others. Social isolation poses serious risks to the physical and mental health of older people. Owens says, “Researchers have found that loneliness can be more damaging than smoking. So don’t passively wait for your family or friends to call you. You can be the one suggesting an activity, inviting someone over for lunch, or chatting remotely with an old friend. I promise you that the energy you give off will come back to you many times over.

For more ideas and information on retirement, see our retirement center.

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