20 Simple Ways to Make Your Lifestyle More Active brought to you by contemporary retirement coaching

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

That's the same approach you can take to becoming healthier and more active in retirement. After all, you don't begin exercising by running a marathon, do you?. You make small steps that begin to accumulate into a larger fitness practice. The following 20 tips and ideas are simple, actionable ways to impact your health and fitness in a positive manner, and most of them apply to just about anyone - not just retirees.

1 – Take the Stairs Instead of the Lift

This one is in the number 1 spot because you see it on every list about changing your lifestyle to become more active. Too many people respond to this tip by saying "I don't have stairs or a lift in my life." The idea here is to get used to looking at simple daily tasks and activities with a different mindset now that you've retired. Instead of just doing whatever you do every day, as normal, actively seek out ways to become more active.

2 – Make more work for yourself

We're encouraged to be efficient - to make less work for ourselves. So we pile things up at the foot of the stairs so we can take everything up together and save ourselves several trips. Or we save all our cleaning to do on one particular day of the week to save us from getting all the equipment such as heavy vacuum cleaners, steam cleaners, etc, out of the cupboard more times than we need to.

This next tip is the opposite of that... I want to encourage you to make more work for yourself. Take things upstairs as soon as you see they need to go. Weed the garden as soon as you see that it needs it, rather than waiting until the weeds take over. Get the vacuum cleaner out mid-week and give yourself an extra workout and a floor you could eat your dinner off! Never miss an opportunity to get that body moving!

3 – Walk When You Would Usually Drive

This makes as much sense as tip 1. If the place you're going to is only a mile (or less) away from your house, why aren't you walking instead of driving? There are plenty of opportunities each week to shun the car keys and enjoy a healthy walk, rather than sitting on your posterior in your car.

4 – Stretch, Walk, Exercise for 10 Minutes First Thing in the Morning

If you head straight for the coffee maker each morning, that's okay. As soon as you've shrugged off the morning fog though, why not take a 10 minute walk? Alternately, you could exercise or stretch in your home. Studies show that morning exercise leads to better sleep patterns at night, and also tends to lead to consuming fewer calories during the day.

5 – Get a Dog

Dogs need to be walked daily. Regardless of the breed, they need daily exercise. They also need to get out of your home and head outdoors to take care of their 'business', to put it in a nice way. Getting a dog means having a constant companion that can boost your mental health, as well as improving your personal safety and security.

If you really love animals, you can take this tip a step further and get a part-time job as a dog walker. Not only could you make a bit of extra money every week to supplement your retirement coffers, your body will benefit from the extra exercise. Or become a volunteer dog walker for your local dog rescue and achieve three things at once - exercise, volunteering and social interaction (not to mention all that doggy love that'll be coming your way!)

6 – Get Plenty of Sleep

Proper sleep is directly related to fitness and overall health and well-being. Adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night, with no exceptions. Sleep researchers have proven that poor sleep patterns lead to a higher incidence of disease, illness and infection, as well as a shorter lifespan. Also, studies show that you can't 'catch up' on missed sleep at weekends or at holiday times. When you wake feeling rested and refreshed, you have more energy and mental power to fuel a fit and healthy lifestyle.

7 – Cut Back on Your Sugar Consumption

Sugar is downright deadly. It's often blamed, and rightly so, for the fact that 1 in 3 people on planet Earth are overweight or obese. When fat was vilified in the mid-1970s, sugar became the number one flavour delivery system for processed food. It's no coincidence that childhood onset obesity and diabetes was extremely rare until the mid-1970s.

Fat does not make you fat, sugar makes you fat.

The way your body processes sugar leads to an overabundance of fat storage when you consume too much of the sweet stuff. How can this help you become more fit? When you're overweight and obese, you're sluggish, chronically tired and fatigued, and you don't feel like working out or exercising. Cut back on the sugar consumption for an overall promotion of internal and external fitness and health.

8 – Stand When You Can

Stand as much as possible. Our homes, generally, are not fitness-friendly. We design them for comfort. They encourage you to sit all day long, which is incredibly damaging to your health. And, once we're retired, where do we spend most of our time? That's right - at home! Throughout the day, you probably have opportunities to stand while you handle your responsibilities. Making a phone call, checking your email, and paying a bill online are all chances for you to stand rather than sit.

9 – Exercise While You Watch TV

Take a long, hard look at the following TV viewing information taken from the United States (Nielsen Corp).

Children aged 2 to 11 watch more than 24 hours of TV each week. That's 1 entire day spent doing nothing but watching television, usually seated.

You watch roughly 20 hours of weekly television if you're between the ages of 12 and 17.

If you're 18 to 34, you average 22 to 28 hours of weekly TV viewing.

As you get older the numbers rise, unfortunately. Those 35 to 64 watch a staggering 33 to 44 hours of television every week. If you're over 65, you are parked in front of a television set more than 7 hours a day, for 50.5 hours per week.

Be honest, how often do you watch television standing up? The answer is, probably, never! You could definitely boost your health by exercising, stretching or simply standing as you turn your brain to mush while you're watching unrealistic 'reality' TV, or that 'newly released but same as before' movie sequel. If you just got up and did a bit of stretching during the ad breaks, that'd be better than nothing.

10 – Go Dancing Every Weekend

Not everyone enjoys dancing. However, if you do, why don't you get out and join your friends on a weekly basis, cutting a rug for some calorie-burning fun? If you were born with two left feet, join a local dancing instruction club where you have the opportunity to socialize while learning how to dance.

11 – Stop Paying Someone to Mow Your Lawn

Do you pay someone to mow your lawn? Does someone other than yourself care for your garden, your shrubbery and your landscaping? If so, this is an opportunity to put some serious money back in your pocket, while getting healthier and more fit.

You have to get the lawnmower out of your garage or shed, make sure it has petrol in it, clean your lawn of any debris, actually cut your grass, possibly blow or rake afterwards, and perform regular maintenance on your mower. If you have more than a simple lawn to cut, your gardening responsibilities are even more involved. Health authorities have discovered that people have less stress and anxiety when they spend time outdoors regularly.

So not only do your fitness efforts improve when you handle your own gardening, but your mental and emotional health benefit as well.

12 – Head to the Local Shopping Centre

Huge shopping malls began to spring up in the 1970s, first in the United States and then around the world. They give shoppers access to dozens, or even hundreds, of stores, in a covered, climate-controlled environment. This means they take up a lot of space - which requires that you walk a good deal.

In the US, some over-50 and senior citizen groups meet at the local mall weekly to take advantage of this walking-friendly resource. Even if you don't have the opportunity to join such a club, you could hit the local mall or out-of-town shopping centre several times a week without shopping on your mind. You might be surprised to know that you can easily walk more than a mile or two in this safe, indoor environment.

13 – Visit a Museum

Museums require a lot of walking. You also enrich your mind and spirit at the same time. For those that say walking around their neighbourhood is boring, walking through a museum's exhibits keeps your mind occupied, and your feet taking one step after another. Check out this list of free museums and galleries to find one in your area: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/free-museums-and-art-galleries

14 – Schedule a Daily 20 Minute Walk

Groundbreaking research released in the early 21st century shows walking is better than running for improving your fitness. This research shows that people who run 5 miles a week or more actually shorten their lifespan, and do their health no favours. On the contrary, simply adding a 20 minute walk to your schedule each day improves your heart health, makes you feel better physically and mentally, and is a simple way to get into a fitness-oriented mindset.

15 – Walk Off Your Lunch

Do you get sleepy after lunch? For many retirees, that post-lunch slump is the perfect opportunity for a nap. (Not that there's anything wrong with napping, you understand... I'm a big fan!)

Once in a while, though, why not take a short walk after your lunch and see how you feel? You'll get the exercise and the added benefits that walking will have on your digestion. You might find that afternoon napping becomes a thing of the past and those post-lunch walks get longer and longer...

16 – Start Doing Your Own Ironing and Cleaning

If their finances allow, many people who work will often pay someone to do their ironing or cleaning - so they can spend their weekends doing the things they want to do, rather than things they just consider to be 'chores'.

Now that you're retired, (and if you can bear to) you can stop spending money this way, and start doing your own house cleaning. This includes ironing - which requires a lot of standing and moving about but can be done whilst you're listening to music or chatting to family members to help the time pass a bit more quickly.

17 – Join a Theatre Group or Drama Club

Have you always thought you could become the next big Hollywood star? Well, maybe that's a bit of a stretch. However, joining a local drama club can help you 'come out of your shell' and dramatically boost your self-confidence. It also improves your ability to communicate effectively, and you can meet some great new friends if you're becoming a bit isolated now that you've retired.

If you've never been a part of an amateur theatre group that puts on plays, you'll discover this is a very active pastime. Members of the group usually handle their own prop construction, and have to paint scenery and move props off and on the set. This can be a very enjoyable way to get some more movement into your life, especially for those with creative personalities.

18 – Join a Walking Football Club

It may surprise you to know that there are Walking Football sessions held in most major cities in the UK. Even if there isn't one where you live, you can start one yourself. Walking Football is aimed at the over 50s, and is an excellent way to brush up on your social skills while also improving your fitness level. Check out www.walkingfootballunited.co.uk and click on 'Find a Club'.

19 – Stop Parking Directly Outside

When you drive somewhere, do you park as close as you can to the entrance? Do you try to limit how far you have to walk? If you do, you're missing an excellent opportunity to add some simple walking exercise to your daily schedule.

Park further away than you're used to when you're shopping at a superstore or out-of-town shopping centre, going to the library, driving to your volunteer job or wherever else you have a chance to enjoy some walking exercise.

20 – Purchase a Pedometer or Fitness Tracker

If you have a smartphone, there are dozens of free fitness trackers you can download. If you decide to buy a fitness tracker or pedometer, you can spend as little as £10 or well over £100, depending on features, accuracy and whatever your budget can stand.

Downloadable applications which track your calories burned, steps taken, heart rate and other important physical metrics are not as accurate as wearable devices. However, using any type of pedometer or fitness tracker subconsciously makes you concentrate on getting healthy, and is a smart move no matter how accurate it is.

This mini-guide was brought to you by Ann Harrison and Contemporary Retirement Coaching. If you found it useful, you might also like our product: Your Healthy Retirement: Checklists to help you look and feel great!

Created By
Ann Harrison
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