A recent retiree was told by a well-meaning colleague, “Don’t do anything for a year. Just relax.” Unfortunately, the retiree took the advice and is now virtually immobile because a year of sitting around doing nothing wreaked havoc on his health. While we tend to think of our older years as a time to take it easy and rest, not doing anything is the worst possible thing we can do to ourselves. In fact, inactivity will likely decrease our quality of life just at the time we planned to enjoy life to its fullest.
Many older folks, whether retired or not, are turning to yoga as a way of maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle in their later years. And science says it’s paying off. Women with osteopenia have slowed bone density loss with regular yoga practice. Patients with arthritis report increased ability to grip things with their hands and with less pain. Even Type 2 diabetes can be mediated with yoga. If the aforementioned retiree had decided to join a yoga class, socialization would also have been a positive outcome. Yoga is simply beneficial at any stage in life.
So while you’re planning your retirement, growing the 401(k), downsizing the house, and making plans to relax, remember that activity has to play a major role in your post-career life. In order to really get the most out of your retirement, well, it’s like anything else: you’ll get out of it whatever you put into it. If you sit down for a year, eating, drinking, reading, etc., you’re going to find it very difficult to get up and get moving. A sedentary life is dangerous at any age, but can be especially difficult to recover from as we age.
Feeling a little intimidated by all the young people in the yoga classes? Senior Yoga classes are everywhere! They’re even rather specific: choose from a generic yoga for beginners class or look for one that offers yoga chair practice. There’s no reason not to try a class since they’re tailored specifically for the seniors they target. And the really great news is that the other seniors in the class were once as unsure about yoga as you are! You’ve found your people!
Go ahead and retire, but don’t give up on the healthy lifestyle that will see you through the next thirty years of fun!