FEELING GREAT: Keep active to be fit and healthy into retirement

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So let me continue the debate about whether or not retirement is harmful to your health.

A recent study I read up on suggests you’re 40 per cent LESS likely to suffer clinical depression, and 60 per cent less likely to suffer a physical health condition such as back or knee pain, if you remain at work for a few years longer.

From a physical point of view, the real problem with getting older is that every day you wake up, you’re getting more and more stiff.

It doesn’t surprise me. This is because being active, even if that just means being generally ‘on the go’ all the time, as most people are when they’re at work, helps keep your muscles and joints flexible – not to mention releasing those endorphins, the chemicals that make you feel good.

Now I accept that some people will disagree with what I’m suggesting. But I suspect that most of those people come from a position of not enjoying their work enough to want to consider staying on a little longer.

That’s a very different question to whether or not it’s good for your health.

Let’s look at a few examples: people like Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Robson and even Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Don’t you think there’s a reason that people like them chose to go to work in their 60s, 70s and 80s?

You can’t tell me it was for the money. You might say something like, it’s OK for them, their jobs are a lot more interesting than mine.

But the only real difference between their jobs and most people’s is likely to be that they enjoyed doing them enough to want to stay on – and didn’t have to follow the retirement rules and go at 65 whether they wanted to or not.

Remember, they still have the same aching, painful joints as any other person in their 60s, 70s or 80s – and besides, when you saw them on TV or in the newspapers, didn’t they always look well and healthy?

You see, from a physical point of view, the real problem with getting older is that every day you wake up, you’re getting more and more stiff.

You’re losing the flexibility of vital muscles and joints, a process that started at the age of about 40, and as this happens, you’re more and more likely to suffer from back, knee and shoulder problems.

Keeping active, even by going out to do some kind of work, can help slow down this ageing process.

An example for you: I have a 94-year-old client (at the time of writing he’s not my eldest – no, there’s a lady whose 103 who has been coming to visit me since she was 94) who visits my physio clinic for what he calls TLC and a bit of an MOT.

One of his healthy habits is swimming for an hour every morning and he is not only one of the fittest, but also one of the happiest people I’m lucky enough to know.

Might be something in that, don’t you think?

Sure, swimming isn’t work, but it’s the concept of keeping active that I wanted to highlight and it takes a lot more discipline to get up and go swimming to please yourself, than it does to get to work – to be financially rewarded.

So, if you’re in your 50s or 60s and starting to think about retirement, it’s important not just to consider the financial implications of your departure from work – but the options available to you to keep yourself as active as possible. Good luck ;-)

P.S If you missed the first two articles on this topic, and want to catch up, they’re both on my website. Just visit: www.paulgoughphysio.com/blog