4 Things Every Retiree Should Do

It takes planning and discipline to build a retirement fund that will allow you to live a happy, secure lifestyle after you retire.

Likewise, proper planning and preparation can help to improve your chances of being physically and mentally healthy enough to enjoy retirement, says geriatric medicine specialist Gowrishankar Gnanasekaran, MD, MPH.

Here, courtesy of Dr. Gnanasekaran, are four things to "invest" in for your health to help you prepare for a healthy and happy retirement:

Activity. Research shows links between inactivity and brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Gnanasekaran says. Activity is essential for good health before and after you retire, he says.

“The best activities are things that you really enjoy doing," he says. "This should include not only physical activity, but also activities that work your brain, such as problem-solving, learning a new language or attending lectures about a variety of new topics. Finding new activities to enjoy keep you physically and mentally motivated.”

A healthy diet. A diet that focuses on nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, and has less high-fat and processed foods, will give your body a better chance to resist diseases and other health conditions.

“If you are interested in gardening, growing your own food can be a good way to combine a healthy diet with a wholesome activity,” Dr. Gnanasekaran says.

Water. Drink plenty of it, Dr. Gnanasekaran advises. Water not only makes up 90 percent of your body, but it also hydrates your organs, helping them to operate at peak performance -- much like oil lubricates your car's engine parts. Dr. Gnanasekaran suggests drinking at least six eight-ounce glasses of water each day.

Sleep and stress relief. Stress, Dr. Gnanasekaran says, can exacerbate unhealthy conditions of the body and mind. Insufficient sleep can lead to stress.

“Deep breathing exercises are one way to relieve stress,” he says. “Another way to reduce stress is to try to stay calm and avoid depression and high anxiety situations as much as possible. A high-stress lifestyle can contribute to the development of many so-called chronic diseases.”

It's Never Too Late to Start

Just like building your retirement account, the earlier you start living a healthy life, the better the results are likely to be, Dr. Gnanasekaran says.

“Retirees should remember that aging is not chronological," he says. "There is no certain age when you should be doing this, or stop doing that.

Older adults also should keep safety in mind and avoid things that are physically risky.

"But don’t let people tell you to shut down your activities because you’re a certain age," he says. "Staying active opens avenues to improve mental and physical heath and the ability to enjoy life in general.”

Gowrishankar Gnanasekaran, MD, MPH is a geriatric medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Gnanasekaran or any other University Hospitals doctor online.

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