Many of us work and invest financially for retirement.
We put in long hours and pack gruelingly busy schedules all to enjoy the blissful days when we no longer have to work.
But how many of us actually get to enjoy that time once we’re there?
When we build our busy schedules, how many of us make a concerted effort to fit in exercise, healthy meals and relaxation? Typically when we are shuttling ourselves to and from work, to PTA meetings, ballet lessons, tutoring, family gatherings, and the like, our own health is the first thing we sacrifice to get it all done.
When we talk about investing in your health, we’re not necessarily talking about money (although personal trainers, manual therapists, meal planning kits and home gyms can help), we’re talking about investing your time and effort.
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “More than 46 per cent of older persons – those aged 60 years and over—have disabilities and more than 250 million older people experience moderate to severe disability…the higher disability rates among older persons, as a result of an accumulation of health risks across a lifespan of disease, injury, and chronic illness contributes to the higher disability rates among older people”.
When you’re combating illness you can’t enjoy time with your family. When you’re struggling with mobility issues, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pick up or play with your grandkids. If you’re that unlucky 1 in 3 over 65 who have taken a nasty fall, it can be difficult to do much from a hospital bed.
As dire as all of this sounds though, there’s no reason to panic. Just as you’ve been investing financially to secure your future, you can invest physically to enjoy it.
Exercise & Aging
A study of older adults who exercised all of their lives indicated that “…those who have exercised regularly have defied the aging process, having the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person” (University of Birmingham, 2018).
Exercise alone (without even taking into account nutrition or stress management) can help:
- stop loss of muscle mass
- maintain strength
- manage cholesterol levels
- maintain immune system (by slowing the shrinking of the Thymus)
- maintain bone density
- and more
The scary thing is that data shows “that less than half of those over 65 do enough exercise to stay healthy and more than half of those aged over 65 suffer from at least two diseases” (University of Birmingham, 2018).
The great news is that you can chose not to be a part of this statistic. While the above study focused on individuals who exercised for the majority of their lives, you can still reap the benefits of fitness even if you begin later in life. Does that mean you should wait to get started? Absolutely not! It means that if you haven’t already made exercise a priority in your life you should start now.
It takes time to make exercise a habit. Invest that time and it will compound on itself, giving you that much more later in life. Just like with your financial investments, the earlier in life you start, the better.
If time is the number 1 thing standing in your way right now, here are some tips to work in more exercise in your week:
- Schedule workouts like appointments (would you cancel last minute on your boss or doctor?)
- even if it’s just 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week – start with what’s manageable
- Make it a family affair
- children benefit from physical activity and most don’t get enough – take a family walk after dinner or put on a 15 minute yoga routine before bed
- Use your lunch hour
- there are hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos you can use for a quick lunchtime workout, or enlist a co-worker to walk with you at lunch
- Plan active dates
- with your friends or your partner – skip sitting in a coffee shop or dinner and a movie and go rock climbing, try a dance class or try a trail in your neighbourhood – we promise this will make for better memories!
- Invest $$ and get a personal trainer (if it fits your budget)
- When you have actual dollars on the line you’ll be more inclined to make the time for your fitness
The thing is that you can plan to invest financially in your future, and you should, that’s important, but if you don’t take care of your health then the money you’re saving now will be spent to combat your ailments later. Instead of being able to travel and spoil your loved ones you’ll spend that hard earned money on medications, assistive devices and, possibly, caretakers.
At the moment, in Canada, adults over the age of 65 expect to spend around $5,391 a year out-of-pocket for medical expenses. Their caregivers (often their children or grandchildren)? “Caregivers spend an average of $3,300 a year on these expenses” (Kerrigan, 2023). Those numbers don’t take into account those who require additional care and those with more severe ailments. It’s a lot of money, especially if your retirement savings are already limited. It’s also a heavy burden to put on your family.
Our point is, to invest in your future should be about more than just money. It should be about putting in the time now to focus on your health while you still have it. It’ll be that much harder to start a fitness routine when mobility and strength have long since waned. Start now and you will have built the habits and skills you need to avoid accidents and illness later.
No one wants to sacrifice time with their family working now only to spend their money on being just healthy enough to sit back and watch from the sidelines in the future. Get active now so that you can be an active participant in life down the road. Enjoy your hard earned dollars and freedom. After all, isn’t that all investing is really about? Putting away money (or in this case time) to watch it grow so that you can enjoy your freedom later? Freedom from worry and stress! It’s the same with your fitness. Invest time now and it will pay out with more time later.
If you need help getting started with your fitness routine or if you’re getting started later in life and need some extra guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sandbox Fitness & Therapy. Our personal trainers and manual therapists are here to help you tackle any and all of your goals.
If you’re looking to invest in your home gym, Sandbox Home Gym is here to help you figure out the best way to outfit your space for your goals.
Kerrigan, T. (2023). The costs of caring for aging parents in Canada. Senior Home Care Services for the Elderly. Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://www.seniorhelpers.ca/blog/the-costs-of-caring-for-aging-parents-in-canada
United Nations. (n.d.). Ageing and disability enable. United Nations: Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/disability-and-ageing.html#:~:text=Currently%2C%20it%20is%20estimated%20that,experience%20moderate%20to%20severe%20disability.
University of Birmingham. (2018, March 8). A lifetime of regular exercise slows down aging, study finds – sciencedaily. A lifetime of regular exercise slows down aging, study finds. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180308143123.htm