5 Tips for a Healthier Retirement

Maintaining good health can save you money in retirement.

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As you age, your physical health plays an increasing role in your financial health. If your health deteriorates at an alarming rate, it costs you more money. As a result, the level of health you are able to maintain influences your financial situation during retirement. If you want a happier retirement, and one that is likely to be less expensive in the long run, consider these tips for a healthier retirement:

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1. Stay active. Physical activity not only helps you keep your cholesterol down and control Type II diabetes, but it can also help you strengthen your bones. While you don’t want to strain yourself, you should still engage in physical activity regularly. Your routine should include resistance training in order to help you maintain stronger bones. You can improve your balance through physical activity, resulting in fewer falls. And stronger bones mean that your falls are less likely to cause more severe and more expensive damage through broken bones.

2. Eat right. Your diet greatly influences your long-term health, and the amount of money you spend fixing problems caused by a poor diet. This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid sweets all the time and never have some of your favorite (but less healthy) foods. But you should pay attention to what you eat. Fruits and vegetables can help your health, as can nuts, fish, and other heart-healthy foods. Also, consider “brain foods” like salmon and blueberries. These can improve your mood and help your brain avoid deterioration.

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3. Exercise your brain. Studies show that an active brain can reduce the onset of dementia and diseases that affect the memory. You will save money by avoiding some of these diseases, since you won’t need the special care that often comes with them. Keep learning new things to help you exercise your brain. Mind puzzles, crosswords, and Sudoku can help you keep your mind sharp. Another option is to use your non-dominant hand to perform everyday activities. These types of brain exercises can also help you fight depression.

4. Remain social. Your emotional health can be affected by loneliness. Poor emotional health can lead to memory problems, and even influence your physical health. Your emotional health can also cost you money. Then you become even more emotionally unhealthy due to financial stress. You can offset some of these feelings of loneliness and isolation by making friends and visiting with them regularly. Studies show that those who retain social connections through retirement are happier and healthier.

[See Tips for Baby Boomers Reaching Retirement Age in 2012.]

5. Address problems early on. If you are experiencing problems, have them addressed early on. Don’t wait to have a nagging toothache taken care of. Ask your doctor about a recurring headache early on. Get regular physicals. Catching your problems early can prevent them from turning into huge and correspondingly costly issues later. The sooner you fix a health problem, the less it costs in the long run. Get over your possible embarrassment and talk to your health care provider. Make sure that your insurance coverage, including Medicare and supplemental coverage, is adequate to help you address your health. Spend a little now to avoid huge and devastating expenses later.

Jeff Rose is a certified financial planner and U.S. combat veteran. He blogs at Good Financial Cents and Soldier of Finance.