Retirement Redesigned

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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

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Movement & Mobility

Keeping a balance in life requires movement.

It’s just like riding a bicycle

A note from Johann

After decades of full-time work, it’s understandable that retirement feels like the time we get to take it easy. And in many ways, we’ve earned it. As our bodies change with age, it can feel challenging to exert effort in certain areas. When this happens, it feels natural that we might want to slow down with physical activity, too. Sometimes, even a little movement seems a big effort. But everything we are learning confirms that health and wellbeing in retirement require that we maintain an active lifestyle. And how we do it can become a source of pleasure and satisfaction.

I take inspiration from the Blue Zones, which are areas of the world with greater average longevity. One of the key characteristics is that their lifestyle are very active. This does not necessarily mean gym memberships and expensive gear, but rather, activities that require daily tending, like gardening to grow food, household maintenance, and a lifestyle that sees villagers walking to acquire their provisions or visit their friends. You won’t find folks spending time being sedentary!

We don’t need to be from a Blue Zone to build this type of beneficial activity into your retirement lifestyle. Besides regular exercise, you can build ongoing movement and mobility into your daily activities. And in addition, we look to other types of exercise that promote balance and strength like Tai Chi and Yoga.

Playing sport or indulging in a hobby all promote activity and movement. From dancing to hiking and even climbing mountains, there are many other ways of being active. The key is making the commitment to a movement routine.

There is a special benefit to be had from doing any of these forms of movement outside in the open air. The double benefit comes from breathing fresh air while enjoying nature. Bird watching while you are walking is exactly the combination of benefits we mean. Listening to podcasts or music while doing housework has a similar double benefit. One of our social media followers suggested that she does exercise while watching television, only sitting down during commercials. A kind of grown up musical chairs!

Add another dimension to this kind of experience by doing something in the company of other people. Make a sociable event out of it. Perhaps join a club to pull it all together. Maybe it could be a cycling club, or a hiking club or any other membership organization that builds friendships in addition to toning muscles.

As important as physical movement is mental movement. Exercising your mind and spending time doing some form of mental movement will keep you stimulated and aware of your capabilities. Just as you have to avoid becoming a retirement ‘couch potato’ by doing physical activity, so you have to avoid slipping into becoming a mental ‘couch potato’. Retirees have to respond to the challenge of trying something new and making plans for a next trip, a new business activity or a part-time occupation and adventure. It has to be something stimulating that will keep you fired up.


Can we grow healthier in retirement? Rather than just maintaining the health we have and trying to prevent health concerns we can strive to improve our health during retirement and actually lengthen our healthspan. In this video we explore some of the areas we can work on to improve our health and our general wellbeing.

Our top 3 article picks this week:

The Life-Changing Benefits of Exercise After 60

An elderly male demonstrating the benefits of exercise after 60

Our take:
If you have some misgivings about starting a new exercise regime as an older adult this piece will help allay your concerns. There is benefit to getting active at any age. And if you are already a fitness fanatic you’ll be encouraged to know the benefits you’re locking in on your road to longevity.

Article excerpt:
As we age, it’s normal to not have the stamina and agility we enjoyed in our younger years. But getting older doesn’t have to mean becoming a couch potato.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all older adults—both men and women—can benefit from regular, moderate physical activity. This is true even for people with medical conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.

What are the benefits of exercise for older adults?
Regular activity can positively impact our physical health as well as our mental and emotional wellbeing. It can help give us more energy and greater self-confidence, enabling us to embrace our later years with gusto.

What exercises are best for older adults?
Ideally, exercise routines for older adults should incorporate a blend of aerobic exercise, strength/resistance training, and stretching/flexibility exercises.

Yoga: Yoga is a low-impact activity that won’t strain your joints.
Pilates: Like yoga, Pilates offers an effective workout while being gentle on joints.
Aerobic exercise: Adding endurance activity to your day can help boost cardiovascular function, strengthen lungs and airways, and improve everyday stamina.
Strength training: No, we’re not talking about bench pressing 100 pounds! There are simple, low-impact bodyweight training exercises you can do at home to help reverse muscle loss and burn body fat.
Click here to read the full article on The National Council of Aging

Why The Okinawan Practice of Sitting On the Floor is Linked to Mobility, and Longevity (& How to Practice It At Home)

And elderly woman sitting on the floor to symbolise the benefits thereof

Our take:
The Okinawans have an enviable track record for longevity because of various practices built into their culture. One of them is keeping an active lifestyle which doesn’t necessarily mean hours at the gym but rather focuses on ways in which we build activity into our daily lives. They spend plenty of time moving between a standing and seated position – the big difference being that they tend to sit on the floor as part of their general routine. This means that they build strength and mobility in multiple movements every day. When last did you sit on the floor and how easily do you get up from that position?

Article excerpt:
Okinawa, Japan, is one of the 5 blue zones where people live exceptionally long and healthy lives and is home to the world’s longest-lived women

In Okinawa, people traditionally sit on the floor to read, eat, talk, and relax instead of sitting in chairs.

Okinawan centenarians sit and get up from the floor dozens or hundreds of times per day. This exercises their legs, back, and core in a natural way as they get up and down all day long. Sitting on the floor also improves posture and increases overall strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Studies correlate the “ability to sit and rise from the floor without support” with a longer life expectancy. Sitting on the floor also develops musculoskeletal fitness.

Residents in all the blue zones moved all day—every 20 minutes—because their environments were set up that way. A sedentary lifestyle of sitting throughout the day cannot be fixed by trips to the gym.

How to Do It:
Create a seating area in your home with cushions on the floor. Do your reading, work, and scrolling there.
Click here to read the full article post on Blue Zones.

Doing Household Chores Can Help Your Brain Stay Younger and Healthier for Longer, Study Suggests.

Canadian researchers found positive associations between routine housework and increased brain fitness in older adults.

An image of a vacuum cleaner to show household chores

Our take:
Flip the script on doing your household chores and see them as a blessing. Our daily household chores double as daily mobility exercises and help us stay limber for longer.

Article excerpt:
It’s long been known that engaging in routine physical activity is extremely important for promoting brain health and longevity.

But what about other forms of daily physical exertion that aren’t typically considered “exercise” or categorize as recreational? Do house- and yard-work offer similar brain-boosting effects to a brisk walk?

A study published in February 2021 in the journal BMC Geriatrics found that performing routine household chores—like gardening, vacuuming, sweeping, doing laundry, and reorganizing the winter coat closet—had positive associations with both brain volume and cognition in older adults.

The study cites a few possible reasons for the outcome.
One, chores by nature get people up and moving, which leads to less time being sedentary—a common and harmful lifestyle habit connected with decreased brain function and wellbeing, particularly as adults age.
Two, it’s safe to assume that performing manual household tasks, vigorous enough, can result in similar physical exertion to that of low-intensity aerobic exercise (think: walking, light yoga, or low-resistance cycling).
And third, the planning and organization involved in household chores may promote the formation of new neural connections over time, even as we age. Keeping our existing neurons firing—as well as intentionally introducing new neural pathways—is essential for optimal brain fitness throughout life.
Click here to read the full article post on Real Simple.

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Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving. – Jerry Seinfeld
In recent years, the term healthspan has come to mean the number of years we live in good health. Ideally, our healthspan meets up with our lifespan so that we can enjoy the years we are given. There is work we can do to improve or ensure our healthspan. One of the key things is to maintain an active lifestyle. This doesn’t only mean exercise but includes daily movement and activity from household chores to gardening or maintaining an active hobby. Life moves forward regardless; by staying active we can try to keep up.
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A quote by Jerry Seinfeld – To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.


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Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.