Retirement Health Series, Part 1: Physical Health: Think Health Over Wealth

By:  Kari Utz-Wolsky, (ISSA) CFT, SPN, SSC; Crossfit Level 1, Nutrition and Conditioning Specialist

Published:  August 20, 2018

When we think of retirement, we often have visions of reading our favorite book on the patio. Maybe some of us think about having more time to travel, time to visit kids and grandkids. Or we look forward to having more time for our favorite hobby. And almost always, we think about whether we have enough finances to cover our retirement. Perhaps we should give as much attention to our physical wellbeing as we do to our financial wellbeing.

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the healthiest people spent their retirement savings more slowly. It’s never too late to improve your health. Make small changes starting today, and whatever your retirement plans are, they are sure to be more successful when you have good health.

Have a positive attitude, even during a health setback. Mental and physical health are directly linked.

  • Aim for 8-9 hours sleep per night. This is when our body recovers, and important hormones are released to help with mental and physical health.
  • Practice slow, deep breathing, or meditation. Giving your body a chance to slow down and rebalance is a simple yet often over-looked practice.
  • Schedule weekly activities that make you smile and laugh, something you truly enjoy.
  • Set goals for yourself and set structure to your routine. A daily walk, a weekly social meeting, a book at a coffee shop.

Stay active – exercise daily.

  • People who exercise regularly typically live longer and are healthier than their peers who do not exercise.
  • Whenever possible, get out into nature. A hike in the woods, a walk on the beach, gardening in your yard.
  • Make exercise fun and at the same time challenge yourself. Pick up a new activity or sport.
  • Work on balance and flexibility. Spend 10 minutes stretching each day, even if it’s while reading a book or watching the news.
  • We lose muscle as we age; so incorporating resistance training into your fitness routine will help you maintain your independence longer. Bodyweight exercises such as pushups and squats count too, not just lifting weights.

Follow a healthy nutrition plan to limit inflammation. A healthy gut is one of the most important things for overall health.

  • Inflammation leads to disease. Poor diet causes systemic inflammation. Poor food choices will eventually take their toll.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – dehydration can cause food cravings and fatigue.
  • Limit sugar – it is toxic to our bodies.
  • Eat more vegetables – rotate your options to include all colors of vegetables. Think of eating the rainbow each day with your vegetable choices.
  • Incorporate healthy fats into your diet, such as avocado, nuts and seeds, while avoiding trans fats, including fried foods and vegetable oils. Instead choose olive, coconut or avocado oil. Your brain runs on fat and needs it to help avoid neurodegenerative disease.
  • Consider a prebiotic and probiotic supplement to help balance the healthy bacteria in your digestive system. This is key not only to keeping your gut healthy, but also your immune system.
  • If you are battling chronic health issues or have digestive issues, consider cutting out the more common inflammatory foods: gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, vegetable oils, and nuts.

Kari Wolsky holds certifications in Personal Fitness Training, Performance Nutrition, Specialist in Sports Conditioning from ISSA, as well as a certification in Crossfit Elite Fitness training. Kari educates people in individual and group settings on how to improve their health and fitness levels. She has helped clients with goals from illness reversal and allergy-induced diet restrictions to fat loss and sports performance.