There is a direct relationship between ageing, physical, and mental activity. People who adopt a sedentary and passive lifestyle after retirement accelerate their ageing process. Lack of movement diminishes the body’s responsiveness and few social relationships inhibit intellectual abilities.
If we add also loneliness, the ageing process accelerates. Spending the day without stimuli other than television or cell phone, without seeing anyone or going out can cause you to lose motivation to take care of yourself and your health. Many of the illnesses we attribute to age are not due to age.
On the other hand, an active and purposeful person (a person with a purpose of life – ikigai) keeps connections and maintains healthy habits.
Therefore, to keep fit, why don’t you follow those three tips coming from Japan?
1. Give yourself a goal for your next birthday. For example, you may decide to practise some moderate physical activity every day to lose weight and reach that goal by your birthday. In addition, sport promotes the production of endorphins, the hormones of happiness.
2. Reconnect with nature. Practice shinrin yoku at least once a week, or immersion in a forest recommended by Japanese doctors to promote longevity. Furthermore, this practice can also protect you from diseases because the proximity to plants strengthen the immune system.
3. Be grateful. In the same way that an attitude of complaining and constant anger increases the level of cortisol (the stress hormone), an attitude of gratitude towards life and the people around us, promotes serenity and the joy of living.
Remember that life expectancy is statistically high in our Western societies. Most likely, you still have two good decades of “useful” life left after retirement that you could fill with meaning and activity.
Ageing with care is an art. The third age, which I prefer to call third youth, can become an opportunity to be able to love you more and take better care of yourself. Find something you enjoy doing or that you can attach an immediate reward to, and involve friends to add the lovely component of socializing.