How to Ensure Retirement Isn't a Couch Potato Lifestyle: Activity Tips

8 minute read

Retirement is supposed to be a celebratory event. You have worked hard for many years, paid your dues, and deserve a chance to relax and do what you want.

But just because relaxation is part of the plan doesn’t mean you have to become completely inactive. Retirement shouldn’t mean that life stops completely, thereby giving rise to a sedentary (mostly sitting) a sedentary lifestyle.

This is both unproductive and unhealthy, so it needs to be avoided at all costs.

Retirement Means More Sitting

Research has shown that retirement comes with an increased amount of sitting time. As people transition to the retirement stage of their life, there is a need to sit back and relax.

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This gets taken too far, however, as sitting around during free time increases from four hours to six hours daily. If this pattern continues, you essentially enter an inactive or sedentary lifestyle, which is strongly linked to several health issues.

Even with individuals who typically sat all day as part of their job, more sitting ensued upon retirement. Sitting for most of their work life was already coupled with a lack of physical activity, trouble sleeping, and potential risk for mental disorders.

Even more sitting around as part of retirement only increased the potential risks to their health. Sitting around more as you age, specifically watching TV, is linked to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Retirement does give you more time in your day to fill, and many people are not sure what to do with all the extra time. Hence, sitting becomes the go-to pastime.

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Recent studies are providing even more reason to finding activities. Reduced time of sitting or taking breaks between prolonged periods of sitting can go a long way in keeping you healthy after you retire.

The Dangers of an Inactive Lifestyle

The definition of sedentary living involves a lot of sitting, a lot of lying around, and very little exercise or physical activity. You bring the figurative “couch potato” to life.

Technology has made it easier and more appealing for people to sit during leisure time. For those that worked physically active jobs, some sitting time is a good thing, so long as it is in moderation.

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For those who sat for most of their working lives, this additional inactivity becomes life threatening.

Being inactive affects your body in several ways:

Obesity caused by inactivity increases your risk of diabetes as well as heart disease.

♦ Not using your muscles as often encourages muscle loss (sarcopenia).

♦ Weaker bones with lost mineral content increases your risk of osteoporosis.

♦ Your metabolism slows down, which makes it increasingly harder for it to breakdown fats and sugars. This can contribute to weight gain as well as significant risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

♦ Your immune system becomes weaker, increasing infection and disease risk.

♦ Blood circulation slows, specifically getting worse at your extremities. Poor circulation can impact your heart health.

♦ You may experience chronic inflammation, which is associated with several serious diseases.

Saying No to Those Sedentary Ways

To promote good health and prevent the serious diseases associated with inactivity, all you need to do is stay active. As a retiree, you are entitled to relax and take life at a slower pace, but it doesn’t have to come to a complete stop.

Some light exercises each day or incorporating certain activities into your daily life around the house can keep you active and healthy. You don’t need to run a marathon, you just need to keep moving so you can enjoy the golden years for longer.

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While you are watching TV, you don’t have to sit on the couch. You can do some yoga, lift some hand weights, or ride a stationary bike.

Keeping your heart pumping and blood flowing is a great way to stay in shape and stay healthy. Depending on how you feel, you can even start working out from home with a video class. A lot of elderly people are uncomfortable with gym settings, so this provides the perfect solution.

Housecleaning and gardening also keep you moving. If you perform these tasks with a little extra vigor, they can be a real workout.

Rather than having one day set aside for cleaning and chores, split them up through the week. This way you have some activity planned for each day and some reason to get up off the couch.

It also helps to plan time between sitting to get up and move. Take a walk around the neighborhood. You get fresh air and get your body moving.

Make a date with some friends. Plan to go to a class or for a walk in a local park. When you have others with you, it becomes enjoyable and not so much of a workout.

You get exercise and some important bonding time, which boosts your health in numerous ways. Sitting around the house all day can get depressing, which will only compound your physical health problems.

Staying sociable and active with friends will help avoid the sedentary slump. Activity can be as small as standing while you talk on the phone, or even walking around the house as you talk.

Being up and off the couch or away from your favorite chair is beneficial in any way you can take it. When the commercials come on for your favorite show, walk up and down your stairs a few times.

Nobody likes the commercials anyway, so this gives you something to fill the time until you get back to the televised action. Most importantly, it keeps you from becoming completely inactive.

The Bottom Line

Retirement is to be enjoyed, and you should be able to do whatever you want. You very well might feel like sitting on your couch all day and you are entitled to do so. If you want to truly enjoy retirement and all the years ahead of you, though, you need to break up the inactivity from time to time.

Becoming sedentary is a choice and it can have serious negative consequences for your health. They say variety is the spice of life, so add any variety of activity you see fit, so you can enjoy all that life has to offer after retirement.

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