Improving your physical health for retirement

What is Physical Health?  Physical health relates to the body as opposed to the mind. It is as a state of physical well being in which an individual is mechanically fit and able to perform daily activities and duties of life to the best of their ability without problem. Physical health can relate to beauty but the challenge is beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  One single definition may never really define physical health because everyone has his or her own individual perceptions.

Are you physically healthy?

Although physical health can mean different things to different people, the best way to look at physical health is looking at three key areas:

  1. activity (exercise),
  2. nutrition (what you eat) and
  3. rest.

Where these three areas intersect is where you are and the key is to find balance in your life and balance in these three areas to maintain your desired level of physical health.

Physical Activity is key to physical health

Physical exercise and activity is so important to health.  Lack of activity can lead to some serious health risks like heart and lung weakness.  In fact, physical inactivity is as harmful to your health as smoking.

There are numerous benefits of healthy regular exercise including:

  • Greater bone and muscle strength
  • Increased overall flexibility.
  • Increasing the natural hormones that help fight depression and lifts mood
  • Improves your balance and helps protect you from falls
  • Aids with regaining once lost abilities to perform activities of daily living
  • Increase independence and mobility
  • Helps maintain weight

Tips to get active

The Public Health Agency of Canada along with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) developed ‘tips to get active’ to aid the public in incorporating evidence based tips to get healthy exercise back into our lives.  They have 3 basic tips:

  1. Be active at least 2.5 hours a week at a moderate to vigorous aerobic intensity. This means the body needs 30-60 minutes of physical activity most days. Minutes count so add it all up. For example parking further away and walking briskly for 10 minutes to your destination. There 10 minutes and back 10 minutes, you already have 20 minutes.
  2. Become stronger by adding activities that target your muscles and bones two or more days per week.
  3. Start slowly with easy stretching and move frequently.

Endurance, flexibility, strength and balance

The best exercise routines will incorporate elements of endurance, flexibility, strength and balance.

  • Endurance is about participating in continuous activities that make you feel warm and breath deeply.  Some examples include walking the stairs in your house or apartment, vacuuming, playing with the grandkids.
  • Flexibility refers to the ability to move joints through their entire range of motion.  To help with flexibility, reach, bend and stretch whether you are standing, sitting or lying down.  It’s important to feel those muscle stretch even if slightly. Twice a day try to touch your toes or as close as you can.
  • Strength and balance builds muscle mass, which can help prevent injury and aid in rehabilitation and recovery.  Try lifting objects and doing resistance activities. It can be a simple as lifting a can of something from your pantry a few times before opening them.  You can even try to do it while standing on one foot to develop balance.

Take it easy

As we age, the role of exercise becomes even more important. Exercising regularly can make the process of aging well easier to achieve.

You need to start slowly and build up and listen to your body. Start by simply building physical activity into your daily routine. For example, walk wherever and whenever you can.  Take it to the next step by doing whatever you are doing now and increasing the amount of time you are doing it for.

It's all about living independently

In short, physical activity helps prolong good health and independence. Independent living depends on being able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them. To stay independent you need to be able to reach, bend, lift, carry and move around more easily. Staying physically active will help you to keep moving and stay strong.  Remember starting to get physical active benefits all ages even well past your 90’s.

It is important to consult your doctor to determine whether you have special physical needs relating to your overall health and any special conditions you might have. Then, your task is to look at your current exercise or lack of and see what you need to do to add activity into your lives.

For more information on ‘Tips to Get Active’ go to

Written by Liz Yih

Elizabeth Yih is a registered dietitian who specializes in Eating Disorders at the University of Alberta Hospital. She also consults for Wholesum Nutrition and has a general passion for living healthy and helping others do the same. Most importantly, she sets a positive example to live life healthy and happy for her four children.

4 Responses to Improving your physical health for retirement

  1. It’s really important for baby boomers to be active and to exercise. They need to remain healthy. Indeed, they don’t want to sit all the time at this stage of their lives. They want to travel, to garden, and why not to date again. And these activities need a good health. Thank you so much for sharing this article.

  2. You just have to get out and get started. I am stronger now in middle age than I was in college playing football. I am working on losing weight. I play golf a couple times per month and softball during the summer. I also lift weights once per week. It is important to stay active.

  3. I visited lot of site and read lot of article. I am really happy for this post in this site. So i always want to concentrate in this site about different article.

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