With the recent news of Prince Philip stepping down from his royal duties at the end of this year I thought it would be a good time to talk about what’s important when you are leaving work and moving into retirement. What should you be concentrating on to remain healthy and what does the research say can help you the most?
First of all, there are numerous studies linking health to work! As a physiotherapist in Occupational Health this is good news! The longer you stay in work the better your health tends to be. The reasons for this aren’t just physical. Work does keep you physically active in most cases but what else can it offer? It offers daily engagement of the brain as well as providing a sense of purpose to life.
So how can we transfer these benefits into retirement years? And what should Prince Philip be thinking about getting on with? Have a think about our Top 10 Tips for a happy retirement:
Work tends to provide one key thing, both day to day and over a long period….GOALS. Whether that’s a daily goal of hitting a production target, daily sales targets, a dead line for your boss that week or a yearly progression up the ranks in your chosen career. In work we tend to have the next step or the next goal planned out. This should be your first step in retirement, goal setting can be powerful! There is no reason to stop achieving in your retirement years. It could be travel goals, ‘I want to have seen x amount of countries in the next few years’, and if you’re not lucky enough to have Richard Branson’s retirement fund, it could be something like I want to start gardening, or seeing the Grandchildren at least 2 times a week. Even small goals can be beneficial and can give you a real sense of purpose. A study in America in 2012 found that having a clear sense of purpose in retirement even reduced the risk of stroke. The benefits of creating goals and purpose after work is not just a psychologically beneficial exercise, but one that can influence your physical health. So ‘Top Tip’ number 1 & 2 are create a purpose and have a plan!
Top tip number 3 are value your health not wealth! More than 80% of today’s retirees say health is the most important ingredient for a happy retirement, meaning that the majority value good health even over financial security. In fact, only 58% of retirees say being financially secure is most important to them.
Tip number 4 is possibly the most important! Staying physically active! There are so many ways to do this in today’s age the best advice is to choose something that you enjoy and that is fun! Research has demonstrated that forcing yourself to do exercise you don’t enjoy doesn’t have the same mental or physical effects (it also makes you eat more!). Picking something fun like, hiking with a friend or listening to music when gardening can be great as well as maintaining your social interaction.
Tip 5 is something you may not have considered but is still related to exercise and walking. If walking is your retirement exercise of choice, whether that is down country lanes, up a mountain or hill, or just through the local town, the speed you walk can be beneficial! Many research studies have found that how fast you walk after age 60 is a good gauge of longevity. Walking speed seems to have some predictive ability for dementia, shorter life spans and depression!
Tip 6 is something that may take some time and practice but research conducted at Yale University has demonstrated that thinking positively about aging has a number of health benefits. Thinking about aging positively with thoughts like ‘I have wisdom’, along with self-realisation and satisfaction are associated with functioning at a higher level, eating more healthily, exercising regularly and even prolonging life by 7.5 years! Who can argue with that?
Some more research from the USA here and Boston College supports Tip number 7 from us. They found that grandparents who were able to both give and receive support from grandchildren are less likely to be depressed. In fact, “the greater emotional support grandparents and adult grandchildren received from one another, the better their psychological health”.
For Tip 8 we are revisiting positive thinking. Thinking positively in the face of a setback, whether that be pain, and illness or something non health related, the more positively we can tackle these issues the quicker you will recover and be back to your usual self. This is often easier said than done but, this doesn’t change the fact that having a positive outlook can improve your ability to bounce back from adversity.
Tip 9 is probably something you already realised, but being socially active into retirement has a wealth of research backing its benefit. But, did you know, that being social coupled with regular physical exercise is EVEN MORE beneficial than just being social!
Finally tip number 10, get yourself a hairy little companion! That’s right, get a dog! You might think that this tip is ‘just for someone to talk to’ in fact you will not believe the physical health benefits you get from owning a dog. Research from around the world including Australia and the USA has shown that dog (or pet owners in general) take fewer visits to their doctors, have lower cholesterol and blood pressure and have a lower risk of heart attack!
So there we have it! I hope you retirees are reaching for your walking boots right now having just called the grandchildren to accompany you on a speedy walk! Prince Philip if you happen to stumble across this and need any tips don’t hesitate to get in touch with us down at IPRS Health, I am sure I have a couple of free clinic spots next week!
Clinical Lead IPRS Health – Senior Physiotherapist