Once we retire, we tend to bask in our newfound free time, but few of us realize that we should be spending part of that time exercising. Some fitness buffs may treat retirement as a chance to double up on their favorite activities, but for the rest of us, the challenge becomes extracting the most benefit in the least amount of time.
“Consistency is the key,” said Michele Stanten, a certified fitness instructor in Coopersburg, Penn. “Some people who are gung-ho at first try to do an hour of exercise, find it’s too much, and stop. It’s more effective going out for 10 minutes one day, then 10 minutes the next day. Build up gradually and be consistent.”
Stanten consults with SilverSneakers, a free fitness program for seniors that comes with qualifying Medicare plans. It includes access to participating gyms at more than 14,000 locations across the U.S., along with instructor-led yoga, dance and other fitness classes.
Regardless of your goal—to gain muscle mass, lose body fat, lower your cholesterol, improve your heart health—turning exercise into a daily habit helps you stay on track. Just check with your doctor first and heed your body’s signals once you get under way.
“The most important thing is to do something you enjoy,” said Edward Schneider, professor of gerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles, Calif. “Otherwise, you’ll quit.”
Beyond regular workouts, adopt a healthier lifestyle throughout your day. Stroll down every aisle in the supermarket even if you don’t need to. When you go to the mall, park once and walk from store to store, rather than driving from one to the other. By weaving healthy habits into your everyday life, you’ll reap the benefits as you enjoy your retirement.