How to have a healthy retirement

When planning for retirement there are many things that you must consider, but how often do you put your health into consideration when looking for a place to retire to? There are many, many places for retirees to go after retirement, yet most often those locations are chosen due to affordability rather than to potential health benefits.

Many may view retirement as an opportunity to sit back, put your feet up, and relax for the rest of your days. Perhaps that is true for some, but it is also an opportunity to focus on your health while you embark on many new adventures. Nobody ever said retirement has to be slow or boring, did they?

Good health has been shown to increase overall happiness in people, so why overlook your health when planning for retirement? A healthy retirement is a happy retirement, after all!

This article will go over a few important factors regarding mental and physical health that you should consider when planning your retirement. Along with discussing these potential health benefits, this article will list locations that are conducive to the health benefits that these factors promote.

Here’s how to have a healthy retirement, and in doing so, how to be happy in retirement.

1. Walking

Walking is incredibly important to keeping retirees in good health. High-intensity exercise may not be a viable option for retirees anymore, especially for those retirees who are much older, and walking is an excellent alternative to those high-intensity workouts.

It’s commonly misunderstood that low-intensity exercise such as walking does not bring about the same health benefits as high-intensity exercise, but that is incorrect. Walking is a viable alternative to running that is just as effective at improving cardiovascular health – it helps decrease the likelihood of suffering from a heart attack or stroke, developing heart disease or heart failure, and improves blood pressure and the delivery of oxygen to the brain.

There are many other benefits to walking aside from improving cardiovascular health, such as spending time in nature, joining walking groups, creating healthy routines and habits, and improved mental health. With improved physical health comes an improvement in one’s mental health, and that is very important in order to combat anxiety and depression in seniors.

So, where could you retire that might promote the good habit of walking?

  • Tucson, Arizona

Tucson is a desert city surrounded by mountains, which actually lends to it being cooler than other desert cities like Phoenix. There are many parks located throughout the city with walking and hiking trails that allow for beautiful strolls through nature without having to go too far from home to find them.

If you do find yourself in the mood for a hike outside of the city, much of the mountainous land around Tucson is protected land with many hiking trails which invite hikers to take a chance and explore some of the Sonoran desert, the nearby mountains, and even forests of saguaro cacti. Tucson is a great place for nature lovers who are planning their retirement!

2. Having a Sense of Purpose

It’s not uncommon for retirees to find themselves feeling a little lost after having retired. Work often brings a sense of purpose to people’s lives, and after working for 40 or more years and then suddenly having no more work, that loss of direction can come on pretty quickly.

Picking up a hobby, or getting involved in volunteer work at a grassroots level can allow you to develop that sense of purpose once again. Meaning is often discovered when we find a purpose that is bigger than ourselves, be it through a hobby or through some other work that may be of help to others.

How can you find meaning through these activities during retirement? There are several organizations such as the Salvation Army, Habitat For Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and others that need volunteers to help those less fortunate!

What’s a good city to get involved in these activities and rediscover that sense of purpose?

  • Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital is likely one of the best places to get involved in grassroots-level volunteer work, whether it is politically-minded work or not. There are countless opportunities to work with organizations hoping to enact change in this country through political systems, but there are also just as many – if not more – opportunities to work with organizations that seek to aid the less fortunate throughout the metropolitan area.

If you’re looking for a different kind of volunteer work, the National Park Service has volunteer opportunities as well, with some positions requiring specialized talents, knowledge, and experience, and other positions only requiring a desire to be of service. One perk of volunteering with NPS is that volunteers with 250 service hours get a free volunteer pass that covers the entrance and standard amenity fees at national parks, wildlife refuges, and other federal recreation sites!

3. Being in Community/Having a Social Life

Being a part of a community with strong social ties is critical for retirees in order to avoid isolation and the depression and anxiety that often come with it. Living in community with other retirees can really help when it comes to developing a social life and having a happy retirement.

Retirement communities are excellent for retirees seeking to become part of a community, as they usually have events, clubs, and facilities designed to bring residents of the community together. Living in such a community and taking part in community events will allow you to develop a social network post-retirement and gain new friends who are all at the same stage of life as you are.

In addition to the benefits of living in a retirement community, living in one near a major city will allow you to take advantage of the social benefits the city has. Not only can you enjoy the smaller events and facilities a retirement community has, but you can also head into the city with your friends and enjoy the theater, museums, music, nightlife, and other events that the city may have.

  • The Villages, Florida

The Villages is a large age-restricted community in Central Florida. When you think of a retirement community, you may think of something like a neighborhood within a much larger city or town—The Villages, on the other hand, is a town.

This community is 45 miles northwest of Orlando and 20 miles south of Ocala and has much to offer its residents. With 50 different golf courses, several softball fields, a woodworking facility, tennis courts, parks and trails, shops, restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship and more; there’s no shortage of things to do with friends in The Villages.

With so much to do in this community, The Villages is an excellent option for retirees seeking to live in community with their peers and forge meaningful connections with the individuals and the community at large.

4. Healthy Eating

When it comes to having a healthy retirement, good nutrition is essential to developing and maintaining good health. In addition to maintaining an active lifestyle as mentioned earlier in this article, it is equally as important for seniors and retirees to have healthy eating habits.

There are many resources when it comes to learning about proper nutrition for seniors, but getting fresh, locally-grown foods can be difficult—especially for those retirees living within cities. There are programs such as farm shares that can bring farm-fresh food directly from the farm to you, but such programs may not be available in every city.

There are, however, some farm share programs that exist specifically for seniors to help them have access to farm-fresh produce.

  • Vermont

The state of Vermont has a Senior Farm Share Program which helps seniors on a limited income purchase fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables from local farms. In order to participate in the program, seniors must be 60 years of age or older.

The program is supported through a community supported agriculture (or CSA) share in which community members purchase a “share” of the farm’s harvest. The senior shares are paid for by the program, and every senior is eligible for a $50 share that is spread out over a 5-10 week period.

This way, seniors receive $5-$10 worth of vegetables each week during the program. This program is a great way for retirees to get the healthy foods that they need to develop good nutrition.


When it comes to having that happy and healthy retirement that you seek, there are so many important things to consider during the planning stage. More often than not, certain things are overlooked and forgotten about, but questions of your health should always be given much thought.

Living an active lifestyle, having a sense of purpose and meaning, being active in your community, and having healthy eating habits with access to fresh food are factors that affect your overall health. Don’t lose sight of these things and you will be well on your way to a healthy retirement full of joy and fun.

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