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Health and Wellbeing

You've worked hard looking after others, now it's time to start thinking about yourself instead. Let's face it you deserve a healthy retirement, just so you can enjoy whatever it is you want to do - whether that's starting another career, travelling the world or spending more time at home.

 

Keeping Fit and Active

Regular activity is more important as you start to get older, not only does it have beneficial effects on diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but also helps maintain your mobility, mental wellbeing and of course your independence, later in life.

If you're already quite sporty - keep it up, there's no reason to stop. There are plenty of clubs you can join and you might find you even put some of the younger member to shame.

It's never too late to start being more active. And this doesn't necessarily mean getting ready to run a marathon (unless that's what you want to do of course), but can just include increasing your day-to-day activities like walking the dog, cleaning the house or gardening.

It is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, which can be done in one go, or spread throughout the day.

Benefits of keeping fit

Many of the benefits of being active are the same, whatever age you are, but here are some which are key as you get older:

  • More energy - exercise makes you feel more energetic
  • Improved sleep - being active promotes a restful night
  • Stable weight - helping you keep at the right weight for you
  • Improved circulation and lower blood pressure
  • Delayed ageing - keeping fit strengthens your muscles, joints and bones. It also helps to maintain your mobility and balance
  • A greater sense of well-being and confidence.

As well as all of the above - exercise can be a great way of meeting new people, whether it's at a gym, a rambling or running club or just while you're out walking the dog.

Staying Mentally Active

Keeping your mind active can be just as important as exercising your body. In fact, giving your brain a bit of a workout can not only improve your general wellbeing, but increase your brain power and help you stay more independent for longer. And the good news is that mental decline is not linked to ageing, just to not living an intellectually stimulating life, so don't go hanging up that thinking cap just yet.

Brain training - Why not give yourself a daily mental workout?

  • Enjoy a puzzle or a crossword.
  • Don't reach for the calculator - try and work it out yourself instead.
  • Memorise your shopping list.
  • Read more - perhaps join a book club to keep you going.
  • Play challenging games like chess, bridge or strategic computer games.
  • Stay socially active - join a like-minded group or club.
  • Take up a new interest.
  • Start a course.
  • Go to the cinema, theatre or gallery.
  • Carry on working or volunteer.
  • Research your family tree.

Stress and emotional issues

Retirement sounds like a great idea - no job, lots of leisure time and the freedom to enjoy yourself. Some people however, find this new phase in their life filled with boredom and feel as if they have lost their place in society. So how can you make sure you enjoy your retirement?

Stay stress-free

  • Think positive - apparently it can help you live longer.
  • Get a hobby - if you're getting close to retirement and don't have any hobbies yet. Get some. It's a great way of relieving stress and meeting people.
  • Stay healthy - eat well and keep your body and mind active.
  • Stay socially active - keep in touch with your ex-colleagues (they might be missing you too) and try to meet new people.
  • Make a plan for how you want to fill your days and plan events in the future - holidays and get-togethers.
  • Get your finances in order - your retirement is a perfect time to sort out your money, pay off any debts and plan for the future.

You can find out more about your emotional wellbeing by using the NHS Mood Assessment Tool.

Useful Links

Police Sport UK - affiliated sports clubs within the UK Police Forces. They run retired officers' competitive events like bowling, clay pigeon shooting, fishing and badminton, amongst others.

Try searching online for groups or information on the sports and activities you're interested in - the list is endless from walking and weaving to hang gliding and hovercraft racing.

Age Concern - offers practical help and support to those making plans for their old age.

Change 4 Life - a government backed initiate with tips and advice on changing your diet and doing more exercise.

Drinkaware - facts and advice about safer drinking.

Everyman Action Against Male Cancer - help and advice on the diagnosis and prevention of testicular and prostate cancer.

Men's Health Forum - information and advice on men's health issues.

NHS - information, tools and useful contacts.

NHS Direct - covers all aspects of health and wellbeing. Information and tips on leading a healthier life.

Talk to Frank - friendly, confidential drugs advice.

Women's Health Concern - provides free advice from specialist nurses on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of a range of illness which can affect women.

Anxiety UK - offers support and information to those living with anxiety disorders.

Be mindful - charity which offers stress reduction courses.

Cruse Bereavement Centre - counselling and support for anyone looking to cope with loss.

Depression Alliance - advice and information on the symptoms of and living with depression.

Relate - counselling, relationship education and training to support couples and families.

Samaritans - provides emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

Nuffield Health

David Lloyd

Fitness First

Virgin Active

Living Well

It's also worth contacting your local council-run sports centre - you may find they offer special rates for off-peak membership or the over 50s.

Lifestyle and general wellbeing

Retirement means a change in lifestyle and gives you the perfect opportunity to take stock of your wellbeing. Are you drinking too much, been meaning to give up the cigarettes or wanting to do a bit more exercise? Why not start your new life as you mean to go on?

Regular check ups

Kick-start the new you with a 'medical MOT' from your doctor. Many surgeries offer well-women and well-men clinics to review your general health and your risks to some of the diseases commonly seen as we start to get a little bit older.

During your check up they will normally check:

  • Your weight and BMI.
  • Your blood pressure.
  • For signs of diabetes, glaucoma.
  • Your cholesterol levels.

Healthy Eating

Eating healthily isn't about giving up your favourite foods. Instead it's about eating the right mix of foods and enjoying treats in moderation.

Healthy eating can help improve your quality of life and cut the risk of developing certain diseases often encountered as we start to get older. If a healthy diet means a big change to how you're eating at the moment, you may want to speak with your doctor first.

To get the best from your diet:

  • Try not to skip meals
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Try to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Eat plenty of starchy foods like bread, potatoes, rice and pasta
  • Use less saturated fats and vegetable oils
  • Drink plenty of water but be careful not to drink too much caffeine and moderate your alcohol consumption
  • Use salt sparingly - check for the salt content of pre-prepared meals, you might be surprised at how high they can be
  • Use sugar with moderation
  • Include foods high in calcium like yoghurts, cheese and milk

Getting your five a day

One portion of fruit or vegetables is:

  • Three heaped tablespoons of most vegetables
  • One dessert bowl of mixed salad
  • One medium apple, banana or orange
  • Two plums, kiwis or apricots
  • One handful of cherries, grapes or strawberries
  • One tablespoon of dried fruit like raisins, apricots or dates
  • One glass (150 ml) of 100% fruit juice

Cholesterol

You've probably already heard about how important it is to reduce your cholesterol levels, but do you know why and how you should go about doing this? Find out more about cholesterol on the HeartUK website.

Weight

Do you know the right weight for your height and shape? Being within a healthy weight range can make a big difference to your health. Check your weight and find out more on the NHS website.

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