What are your options?

Well you can start saving even more for these unexpected upsets in life or you can start living a healthier lifestyle today. Or even better, you can do both.

Although not everyone has the option of being able to save more, everyone does have the option to get and stay healthy. It’s not a government mandate or something a financial planner can make you do. Rather it is something you must spearhead and you can start by sticking to some of the following guidelines.

See your doctor

Start here first. Regardless how you feel right now, getting a checkup is the best way to know where you are at physically thus giving you a benchmark to better assess where you need to be.

For Men and Women

  • Diabetes screening – Diabetes increases your risk for other health problems. Your risk for this can increase with age.
  • Vision screening — Not only will this measure your eyesight but can also find early signs of glaucoma and dementia.
  • Cardiovascular screening —A good way to check your risk for heart disease or stroke.

For women

  • Bone mass measurement — Measures the risk of osteoporosis or bone fractures.
  • Mammogram — Having a yearly mammogram to assess any risk of breast cancer

For men

  • Prostate cancer screening —Sooner is always better than later (or never).Men 50 years and older should be regularly screened for prostate cancer. Treatment often works better when detected early.

Diet and Exercise

You hear this all the time and it’s for a reason. We all need to do a better job at it and even just small daily increments of exercise and a couple better choices in diet can make a hugely significant impact on your retirement years.

Be honest with yourself; you see the 65 year old that has ignored their health sitting next to the 65 year old who has made the added efforts to keeping active and you can tell the difference. You can see it in their skin, their posture, the speed at which the walk, and even in their eyes.

For the most part we would all rather spend our free time lounging around living a life of leisure rather than spending money and time at a gym, on personal trainers, and nutritionists.But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. For example:

  • Replace one bad food you eat with a healthy alternative. Start with just one. Instead of a weekly pizza (the average person eats three to four slices), replace it with one slice of pizza and a side salad.
  • Avoid sugar and low fat supplements. The next time you are at the grocery store compare the low fat choice with the regular choice. Multiple times you will see added sugar to the low fat option.
  • Pack a lunch twice a week. If you are one of those people who goes out to eat daily, you don’t have to stop completely but instead try bringing in your own healthy lunch once or twice a week.

Health practitioners are not asking for a major life change but rather just getting you in the habit of some healthier options here and there throughout the week. You will notice the difference sooner than you think.

The options in exercise have certainly come a long way. There are endless exercise classes all over the place. Consider:

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Joining a local gym
  • Tennis
  • Hiking
  • Do it yourself your videos

Explore the multitude of options. The list is endless and you’re bound to find at least one active hobby that will keep you healthy and entertained. Did you ever want to try karate as a kid? Why not start now? Again, adding exercise to your life doesn’t need to be completely drastic. Start by trying to walk to the corner store instead of driving. You’ll be surprised at the impact small changes can have.

Social Matters Matter

Have you heard of the word homophily? Homophily is the tendency of individuals to associate and bond with similar others; think ‘Birds of a feather flock together,’ sort of thing. Now recall the side-by-side 65 year olds mentioned earlier. Take a look again at the one that looks to be in better shape and now look at his/her friends.

People don’t just randomly end up befriending others based on their appearance alone. People with certain lifestyle traits hang out with people with similar lifestyle traits. All research points to the fact that people that buddy up and make a plan to both enter into a healthier lifestyle are much more apt at maintaining that lifestyle then people that go it alone.

Bottom Line

There were 4 easy steps suggested:

  • Get a checkup.
  • Adjust your diet one step at a time.
  • Find a physical fitness hobby that you actually enjoy.
  • Don’t go it alone (unless you are the independent type, of course).

Remember the reason you are saving for your retirement in the first place. And remember those horror stories of people working all their life only to fall deftly ill early in retirement. Don’t become a statistic or topic of warning. Remember what Nike said: “Just do it!”