FEELING GREAT: Can retirement be bad for your health?

An older couple enjoy running along the beach. Is this how you'd like retirement to be?

An older couple enjoy running along the beach. Is this how you'd like retirement to be?

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Let’s kick off a interesting three part column that will be continued next week (and the week after) by talking about the dangers of being “inactive”.

Now, I may be wrong, but I think many people fail to prepare for what could be the single most inactive period of their life – retirement.

How will you cope with all the time on your hands?

If you’re in your fifties, it’s highly likely that you’ve thought about what to do in your retirement – many times over. Maybe even dreamed about it.

But here’s the problem: most people only ever consider the financial aspect of retirement. They fail to consider the other big, important aspect – what to do with the gaping time hole it creates.

So how do you go about filling the huge void that is created every day of every week, when your 9-5 working day is history?

If you haven’t yet considered that aspect of retirement, then let’s do so now.

Start by considering how you feel about taking a break and going on holiday.

Most people love the thought of having two whole weeks to do nothing, but then, about 10 days in, they start to think about getting back home and returning to their everyday routine.

You see, doing nothing all day but lie on a beach isn’t always as exciting as it first seems.

Many people secretly get to a point well before the 14 days of their holiday are even up when they begin to realise they want to get home.

Your home routine is appealing simply because you don’t have to think about what you’re going to do to fill your day.

More: it’s happening because doing nothing other than sleeping, eating and drinking doesn’t always make you feel as great as you thought it would.

Somehow, the routine that you were so keen to get away from is the very thing you crave by the end.

What’s more, have you ever noticed after your holiday how long it takes to switch your brain back on at work and be able to do things as easy and as effortlessly as you could pre-holiday? And your exercise habits are affected too.

Think how long it takes to get going again with a simple fitness routine, or to pick up the after-work walks, with friends.

Getting back into these good habits after a holiday often takes much longer than people think – if they think about it at all.

It’s not uncommon for three or four months of healthy exercise habits in the build-up to a family holiday to be lost completely when the return flight touches down at the airport.

So, what has this got to do with your retirement?

Well, think about it - if 14 days is too long a time to do nothing, what will it be like with the 20 or more years of inactivity that is coming your way in retirement?

How will you cope when you’ve got all that time on your hands and you’re not sure how you’re even going to begin to fill it?

Sure, the monthly income may be taken care of, but have you thought about the amount of spare time you’re going to need to fill?

There’s not a day goes by when I’m not involved in a conversation about this topic with a client.

Although retirement is a long way off for me, because I’m familiar with the health issues caused by inactivity during retirement, taking “early retirement” is something I encourage people to think long and hard about.

To be more precise, they may need to reconsider it.

To be continued...