Top Five Benefits of a Daily Retirement Routine (And How to Stick to It)

Making time for some new habits can help you feel better and healthier.

Senior couples on a double date at a cafe

Retirement brings a number of opportunities and advantages for seniors, including a break from the stress and obligations of regular employment and more free time to spend on personal projects, travel, and seeing friends and family. But all that free time can also create new challenges around the best way to spend it, especially for older adults who’ve grown accustomed to the daily and weekly routines of a full-time career.

Establishing consistent routines will make the transition to retirement smoother while also making it easier to achieve goals, stay healthy, keep in touch with friends, and stay on top of chores, appointments and errands. If certain routines aren’t working, don’t worry – making adjustments is completely normal, and sometimes necessary.

Here are five good reasons to start a retirement routine.

 

  1. Establish a sense of purpose
  2. Maintain healthy habits
  3. Manage basic tasks more efficiently
  4. Keep social life on track
  5. Embrace lifelong learning

1. Establish a sense of purpose

Finding purpose in retirement can be a big hurdle for older adults. After all those years of having a well-defined job to do, it’s very common to be left wondering: What now?

Focus on passion projects

Retirement offers seniors a great opportunity to focus on doing the things they’ve always wanted to do but could never find enough time for. Maybe it’s finally taking that dream vacation, working on their golf game or researching the family tree.

Here’s a good way to figure out what projects are the most important: make a list of a dozen interests, then circle the ones that are the most exciting to do right now. This helps sort out which projects are the biggest priorities. Even if they change along the way, it can help to develop a routine for achieving them.

A multiracial group of three seniors volunteering at an animal shelter playing with one of the rescued cats. The woman sitting in the middle is holding the cat, hugging and talking to it. She and the man are in their 70s. The African-American woman is in her 60s.

Consider part-time work or volunteering

For many retirees, purpose can be found in keeping busy with part-time jobs or volunteer activities for seniors. It might seem counterintuitive to spend time working during retirement, but this is a phase of life that lets older adults be a little more selective with the work that they choose – and how much time to commit to it.

Some retirees prefer to continue working in a field they’re familiar with, while others may want to branch out and try something new. Many seniors find it fulfilling to work or volunteer in a way that gives back to the community, like donating time to charitable and non-profit organizations that can always use an extra hand.

2. Maintain healthy habits

Exercise and a good diet are essential for everyone when it comes to staying physically fit and mentally sharp, but they’re especially important for seniors. Building a retirement routine that makes it easy to stick to a fitness plan and nutritious meals can go a long way toward good overall health and happiness after a lifetime of hard work.

Develop a fitness program

Coming up with the right senior exercise plan depends on individual factors like mobility, health and personal preference, but should include a mix of cardio, strength and flexibility training.

According to the CDC, adults 65 and older need:

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity like brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, like hiking, jogging or running.
  • At least two days a week of muscle-strengthening activities, like chair squats or light weight training.
  • Regular flexibility and balance exercises, like stretching and standing on one foot.

Group activities and classes are great opportunities to build and stick to a senior workout routine while also adding a fun social aspect to exercise.

Senior Asian woman gardening at her home.

Follow a healthy diet

Dietary needs can change as people get older, so it’s important to be mindful of what to eat and what not to. This can be easier said than done, since by the time most people retire, they’re often set in their ways when it comes to the foods they eat.

When adjusting to retirement, look for ways to emphasize nutrition at each meal without sacrificing flavor – eating the right foods can decrease the risks of heart disease and certain cancers while also helping to prevent conditions like osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Salmon and chicken provide lots of protein to keep muscles strong, and fresh vegetables like broccoli and spinach are rich in nutrients, full of fiber and low in calories. Consider tweaking some favorite recipes to include some of these superfoods a few times a week, if not every day.

Depending on your individual health needs, you may want to talk with your primary care physician to learn how to incorporate superfoods like these and more into your new retirement diet routine.

3. Manage basic tasks more efficiently

With so much freedom after retiring, it can be easy to let tasks and chores fall by the wayside. Setting reminders helps make sure nothing gets overlooked.

Have a solid financial plan in place

Figuring out a reasonable weekly, monthly and annual budget goes a long way toward simplifying financial decisions – and relieving some of the stress that comes with money matters. This is true from big decisions like where to go for vacation to small ones like how many times a week to go out to eat. Sorting out finances sooner rather than later goes a long way toward coming up with a budget and sticking to it.

Make a weekly meal schedule

Grocery shopping and cooking meals can be time consuming and stressful without a plan in place. Pick a day to plan out weekly meals to eat and make a shopping list of the ingredients needed to prepare them. Whether grocery shopping or having them delivered, a little thinking ahead is guaranteed to help streamline the process.

Organize chores and errands

Creating a schedule for chores and errands ensures these tasks get done on a regular basis. Having set days and times for things like housekeeping, shopping and doctors’ appointments helps make sure they don’t get overlooked.

Senior woman laughing to a person off camera.

4. Keep social life on track

Opportunities for social connection during retirement can be hard to find for many seniors. It helps to take proactive steps toward maintaining existing relationships and developing new ones.

Prioritize family and friends

A good place to start building a social routine is to focus on existing relationships with friends and family. Consider replacing open-ended “let’s get together sometime” plans with more consistent and structured events and activities. Relationships with old friends and family members are some of the strongest and most rewarding, so it’s important to prioritize staying invested and connected with them.

Seek out group activities

From book clubs to bowling leagues, group activities offer retirees an easy way to make new friends while spending time doing the things they love. And it’s not just easy – having hobbies in common is often the starting point for deep and long-lasting friendships.

Senior man reading a book while sitting on a park bench in autumn

5. Embrace lifelong learning

Having more free time lets seniors dive deeper into things they’re interested in or start learning more about new things they’re curious about.

Make time to read

Consider setting aside between 30 and 60 minutes a day to read. Whether it’s history or current events, fiction or poetry, daily reading provides regular mental stimulation that can translate to better overall health.

Take classes

Retirement offers a fun opportunity to become a student again. Taking classes at community colleges, senior centers and independent living communities offers a regular routine of learning and discovery on a wide range of topics. If mobility is a challenge, just look online for courses, podcasts and webinars that can teach seniors new subjects and skills without leaving home.

Side view of a happy senior woman smiling while drawing as a recreational activity or therapy outdoors together with the group of retired women.

Make happiness in your retirement routine

Having a retirement routine doesn’t mean being stuck in a rut. It just makes life a little easier to keep track of the things you need to do, without forgetting to do all the things you want to.

Keep reading for more tips from Holiday on senior health and wellness, retirement living and more.

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