Is It Ever Too Late To Start Exercising?

I have been wondering what to write about in my next blog that was related to my theme of  ‘Keep Moving’.   As I was taking a walk it occurred to me that what I was doing at that moment is essential to good health, a good healthy habit, and is an activity for virtually every senior citizen.  As I walked along I started to think about the benefits of exercise and how it was related to our quality of life.  As we age we need to understand that exercise can have a positive effect on our lives.  It can delay some aspects of aging such as the ability to move and a decline in mental agility.

Remember, it is never too late to start an exercise program.  An active lifestyle is important to our overall health.  By moving we can boost energy, maintain our independence, protect our current health, manage symptoms of pain and illness, and improve our outlook on life.  A recent Swedish study found that physical activity is a key contributor to longevity even if you start exercising late in life.

There are many physical and mental benefits to regular exercise and an active lifestyle that can improve your quality of life.  For example, some physical benefits include:

  1.  Weight loss.  As we age our metabolism slows and exercise helps to increase         metabolism and builds muscle that burns calories.
  2. Reduces the impact of illness and chronic diseases, improves our immune system,  helps to control blood pressure, and improves bone density, as well as aiding in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
  3. Improves mobility and flexibility by improving strength which helps with balance control that can reduce the risks of falls.

Mental health benefits can include:

  1. Improved quality of sleep.
  2. Proper rest between workouts gives our body and mind time to recharge and regenerate.
  3. Improved mood and boosts self-confidence.
  4. Helps us feel younger
  5. Reduces stress levels

If you start to exercise late in life it can be more of a challenge to get started, so don’t lose sight of the fact that you are never too old to start.  You just have to set realistic goals for yourself and what level of fitness you wish to achieve depending on the types of activities you wish to participate in.  Start out slow and keep up a regular routine and you will gradually, and surprisingly, see how much you have improved.  You will have more energy, your mood will improve, your stress level will fall, you can better manage symptoms of illness and pain, and you will see improvement in your overall well being.

Examples of simple exercises and activities that benefit seniors include but not limited to walking, water aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi, senior sports, gardening, fitness centers, bicycling, and dancing to name a few.

The idea of adding regular exercise to your daily routine is more about adding movement and activity to your life rather than building muscle mass and doing more strenuous activities.  It helps with everyday activities that we take for granted.  For example, climbing stairs, walking, house cleaning, washing the car, mowing the lawn, gardening, getting in and out of the car, opening a jar, and being able to turn our heads when backing out of the driveway (although rear view cameras are making that a thing of the past) to name a few.  As we age some of these everyday activities become harder or almost impossible to do without assistance.  Therefore, we want to maintain our independence for as long as we can and regular exercise can help.

I should mention that before beginning an exercise program one should :

  1. Check with their physician to get his or her approval to begin an exercise program.
  2. Listen to your body as you progress.  Exercise should be enjoyable not painful.  If you are hurting after a workout back off some of the activity.
  3. Start slow and gradually build up to more strenuous activities.
  4. Warm up and cool down to prevent injury.  Stretching after a workout can help remove tightness.

Whatever activity you choose to undertake make it enjoyable as well as productive.  Maybe find a friend to exercise with so you can motivate each other, but I hope you can find an activity that will keep you moving for years to come.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

 

 

 

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What Inspires You?

Staying active in retirement goes a long way towards a long and fulfilling retirement.  I understand that other things like health issues can unexpectedly derail our plans and alter our path through retirement.  If that happens we must try to deal with whatever adverse situation we may face as best we can and with the most positive attitude we can muster.  This can be easier said than done yet we must be grateful for each day we have.  I once heard a young women who has cerebral palsy say that she faces each day with an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’.  This is a sentiment we should all ascribe too.  I have been blessed beyond comprehension with good health and a wonderful family, yet I don’t always give thanks for those blessings.

As we age it seems like our bodies age faster than our minds.  I know at times I think I can do some  things I used to do when I was younger.  Some I can still do, just not as well.  If we are fortunate to escape the ravages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, or other serious health issue, we can still remain active as we age.  Granted, those activities might be done at a slower pace, but we can still do them.

To me, age is just a number although I am amazed at how those numbers are getting larger!  On any given day in our Sun City Hilton Head community you can see residents engaged in all types of activities, hence the billing as an “active adult community.”   We move here for the lifestyle.  There are people pitching horseshoes, bicycling, playing softball and pickle-ball, walking, gardening, playing golf, attending exercise classes, etc., as well as more sedentary activities like quilting/sewing clubs, ceramics and art classes, Zumba classes, photography, or participating in book clubs, travel clubs, card clubs, etc. to name a few.  We are not “God’s waiting room” as some might think.  People who move to this and other active adult communities are trying to squeeze every last ounce of enjoyment they can get from their lives.

Part of my routine to ‘Keep Moving’ is to visit our fitness center 2  – 3 times a week to workout with exercise bands to strengthen my shoulders to alleviate shoulder pain and lift light weights to maintain strength and muscle tone .  At my age I don’t lift weights to build bulk because increasing muscle mass at my age is difficult and I am not that dedicated nor is my goal that lofty.  I want to maintain strength and agility to participate in activities like softball, golf, occasionally pickleball, bicycling or any other activity I might pursue.

Fitness centers in an active adult retirement community are not places where people try to impress each other with large muscles or the ability to lift large amounts of weight.  There are men and women of all shapes and sizes. We are not there to show off our latest in exercise fashion!  You sometimes see plaid shorts and knee high black socks.  There’s no need be self conscious.  Just do your workout because you are doing it for yourself.

Some people who come into the fitness center can serve as motivation and inspiration for others.  For example, it is not unusual to see someone entering the facility with the aid of a walker.  Now they could be rehabbing a hip or knee replacement, or have some other medical issue, but they make the effort to come in to supplement their physical therapy so they can resume normal activities to the best of their abilities.  I don’t know about you, but that is enough to motivate and inspire me to do what I can to ‘Keep Moving’ and I hope you can find something that will inspire you as well.

 

Sometimes You Just Gotta Chill

I have written a lot in past blogs on the subject of ‘Keep Moving’.  That phrase can mean any number of things, from more strenuous physical activities, to walking or strolling along a tree lined road or down a shaded path, to more social activities such as dancing.  It can also include more laid back activities like gardening, taking art classes, or intellectual pursuits such as taking classes at a nearby college or as in our area attending the Osher Lifelong Learning lectures.  The point is to find things that interest you to keep your mind, body, and soul engaged each and every day.

After working for 30 or 40 years where every day was structured and we were expected to be at a certain place at a certain time, retirement can be a big change in that routine for some people.  One day you are working and the next day your calendar is clear.  No one is expecting you to be anywhere.  What are you to do?  Hopefully, you have planned for this day and have a gene

ral idea of what you want to do with all the time on your hands.  Maybe you’ve had a list of home repairs that you didn’t have time to make when you were working.  Perhaps you have a bucket list of places you want to visit.  Just have a plan in place.  Remember, a plan is something from which you can deviate as circumstances dictate. It is a blueprint which can be modified by its designer at any time!

I guess the purpose of this blog is to remind you that while you should ‘Keep Moving’ in retirement, sometimes you just need to chill out.   Sit down, relax, take a day off.   Stop and smell the roses.  You’ve earned it and deserve it.  We want to keep our mind and body sharp but we also need to rest now and then.  Even if that means taking an afternoon nap every now and then.  Remember, you’ve earned it.

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My daughter and I were chilling at the beach on Hilton Head

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Then lunch with my wife and daughter at Skull Creek Boathouse on Hilton Head

Bull’s Island

While traveling on long car trips, my wife and I listen to audiobooks to help pass the time. Over the years we have listened to many good books.  I personally enjoy books written about places I have visited and books set in the vicinity of the South Carolina lowcountry.  We recently listened to a book titled Bull’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank.  Ms. Frank has written many books set in the lowcountry such as Folly Beach:  A Low Country TaleLow Country Summer, and Return to Sullivan’s Island to name a few.  Bull’s Island centers around a wealthy lowcountry family who covertly acquired a 5,000 acre barrier island north of Charleston, SC with the help of a U.S. Senator who altered the language in a funding bill so they could purchase this island that was originally given to the federal government for a wildlife refuge.  They plan to develop this environmentally sensitive island into an enclave of extremely high end housing units and amenities that can be purchased for sale in the millions.  Dislike among families reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, intrigue, and old secrets keep family members estranged for years only to have those secrets revealed in the end.

I mention the Bull’s Island book because we recently spent several days in Myrtle Beach, SC and returning home we passed the turn off for the Bull’s Island ferry along Rt. 17 about 15 miles north of Charleston, SC.  We decided to follow the story lines in the book to the Garris Landing in Awendaw, SC that serves as the boat landing where the Bull’s Island ferry embarks and as the site of several fictional environmental protests described in the book. The ferry runs on a limited schedule depending on the season.  Be sure to check the schedule in advance so you are not disappointed to find it is not running on the day you visit.

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Bull’s Island Ferry at Garris Landing in Awendaw, SC.  The farthest land you see in the distance is Bull’s Island.

While the book is pure fiction as far as the plot goes the adventures one could have by visiting Bull’s Island are numerous.  As part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Bull’s Island is one place we have put on our bucket list to visit.  The 30-minute ferry ride includes an introduction into the wonders and history of this fascinating place.  This uninhabited refuge boasts 16 miles of trails, 7 miles of coastline, and a place called “Boneyard Beach”.  Boneyard Beach is a three mile stretch of beach littered with weathered oaks, cedars, and pines that reminds me of a stretch of beach on Jekyll Island, GA called Driftwood Beach that has hundreds of oaks and pines that have been weathered to a light gray by the sun and saltwater.

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Boneyard Beach on Bull’s Island

According to a volunteer we spoke with upon our arrival at the boat landing there are over 2,000 alligators on the island which covers over 5000 acres. He said it was the second highest concentration of alligators in the U.S.  According to a brochure we picked up, Bull’s Island has been called the “Galapagos of the Eastern Seaboard” and “is managed for the protection of endangered and threatened species”.  The island also is the second most significant nesting location for loggerhead turtles north of Florida.  The volunteer said they had identified and covered with netting over 500 nesting sites this year.

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The farthest land seen in the upper left is the southern end of Bull’s Island

While space is limited you can also immerse your self into the islands ecosystem by booking a 3 day – 2 night stay at the Dominick House  This is a 1920’s era manor house  with six bedrooms, a kitchen, showers, and a large gathering room.  Your stay will include 3 days of guided tours by the Naturalist, low country cuisine, viewing sunrises at Boneyard Beach if you are an early riser, and plenty of time to relax.  The volunteer told us that they are already booked for 2018 so I guess this is an adventure you must plan a year in advance, but it sounds like it is worth the wait.

As my wife and I continue to travel  we will listen to more books about the lowcountry and those written about places that will inspire us to visit.  Have you started your travel bucket list?  If not, what are you waiting for?

A Lesson Learned about Lowcountry Fishing – Will the Learning Ever End?

Recently a friend and I went on a fishing/scouting trip to an area that I hoped would be suitable for fly fishing for redfish.  We went down to Hilton Head Island and put in at the Haigh Point landing then ventured up McKay’s Creek to the north end of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refugee.  According to navigation charts there is an area just off Pinckney Island, where at low tide is an area about a half square mile where the water is 1 to 2 feet deep.  While I have boated around this area several times I never looked at it as a possible location to fish.  We were scouting this area to see if there was any smooth cordgrass in the water that might attract redfish that feed on fiddler crabs or periwinkle snails that attach themselves to the blades of grass.  It turns out I had it backwards.  At low tide this area is just a sandy bottom where we saw a few blue crabs scampering along the bottom.

 

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North end of Pinckney Island at low tide.  This grassy area would be partially submerged at high tide.

The grassy area I thought I would see partially submerged at low tide is actually partially submerged at high tide which is where I assume redfish would feed on crabs and snails.  It is in areas like this that you can sight fish by seeing dorsal and tail fins above the surface of the water as the fish search for food, or you can see a distinct “V” moving on the surface as a fish swims just below the surface.

After fishing the area with no luck, we got in the boat and worked our way back through McKay’s Creek stopping at a few spots to do some bottom fishing for sharks.  This area around the Broad River is a virtual shark nursery.  When my grandkids visit in the summer they love to fish for sharks because they are abundant and easy to catch.  We usually end up catching small blacktip and bonnethead sharks using cut mullet or squid as bait.  Occasionally, we catch a larger shark which makes the day all the more exciting for them.

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We didn’t end up catching any sharks or redfish on our scouting trip, but I did catch a small stingray.  So even though we struck out fishing just being out on the water  was worth the trip.  Being in this area around Pinckney Island, as with any waterway here in the low country, is spectacular.  The scenery changes with the tides and around every turn.  While I grew up and lived in the mountains for most of my life I can’t say enough about how fortunate I feel to be living in the low country of South Carolina.  I guess I am what the former director of the county department I worked for would call a “Damn Yankee”.  He said tourists that visit this area and return home are “Yankees”, and those who visit but don’t go home are “Damn Yankee’s”.  I take pride in that moniker, but he also said that since I was from West Virginia he kept me around for the entertainment value.   I must have been an entertaining Damn Yankee.   But I also understand his concern for the expansion of development in this area.  On one hand it is amazing and on the other hand alarming how much development has taken place in the nine years I have lived here.  Only responsible development can protect the water resources that makes this area special for fishing and shellfish growth.

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Late afternoon near Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refugee

The Perfect Bicycle Storage System for Me

Storage in my garage is sometimes at a premium from all the “stuff” we accumulated over the years and not having enough space to organize and store “stuff”.  Even though my wife and I have downsized and de-cluttered we still seem to have “stuff” we don’t often use or has some sentimental value.  I have often heard people say that if you haven’t used something in 6 months to a year you probably don’t need to keep it.

Bicycles take up a lot of floor space so having a way to store them off the floor is helpful. There are many bicycle storage rack systems on the market from hanging bikes from the ceiling to wall mounted racks.  I found that I did not have enough head room to hang my bicycle from the ceiling using ropes and pulleys, like the 2-bike Elevations Garage Hoist kit, nor did I want to hang a wall mounted storage rack like the Homee Bicycle Bike Wall Hook Rack Holder Stand Bike, so I searched for a storage rack that could store my bicycle off the floor while still leaving some floor space for other “stuff”.  I found this Delta Donatello 2 bike leaning bicycle rack that serves that purpose but what I really found appealing is that it functions perfectly to keep the bike off the floor so I can do routine maintenance.  This storage rack can accommodate 2 bicycles and has adjustable arms to hold almost any bike and leans against a wall with a tab that can secure the rack to the wall for added stability.

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Delta Donatello 2 bike leaning bicycle rack

As I said earlier, there are a multitude of bicycle storage racks on the market and each serves a particular purpose depending on our individual needs.  With a little research each of us can come up with the perfect bicycle storage rack to make room for our other “stuff”.

Fly Fishing and Taggart’s Grill in Utah

Have you ever been to Utah?  If not, you need to travel there to see spectacular mountain ranges whose color and appearance change with the seasons, and situated among those mountain ranges are some of the best fly fishing trout streams in the west.  My son lives outside Park City and his girl friend’s brother, Berk, is an exceptional fly fisherman, and in fact he is very close, in my opinion, to being an expert fly fisherman.  He he knows the rivers in this part of Utah, ties his own flies, studies insect hatches, mastered fly casting techniques, understands trout feeding habits, fishes many rivers in the area, and as it turns out he is a very good fishing guide.   My wife and I visited our son in May 2015, and during this visit Berk took me fly fishing on the Provo river about a mile below the Jordanele Reservoir dam.  The Provo river below the dam is a cold water stream because water discharges from the bottom of the lake which makes for ideal trout habitat.  He even provided all the fly fishing gear and waders for my first fly fishing excursion.

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Fly fishing in the Provo River

This was my first time casting a fly rod but I had a basic idea of what to do by having watched fishing shows.  However, watching others cast a fly rod and actually casting one yourself are two different things.  Berk was a very patient instructor but he was constantly reminding me to watch my back cast, keep my rod tip path straight, keep my rod tip up, mend the line if the slack went downstream of the strike indicator (flip the rod tip upstream so the extra line is above the strike indicator), keep your eye on the strike indicator, etc.  With each cast I seemed to forget at least one of these techniques and had to be reminded again and again.  Like I said he was very patient.  I must have done a few of those things right because I ended up catching 3 German brown trout that day.  In addition to teaching me the basics of fly fishing, Berk managed to catch 5 or 6 of these beautiful fish himself.

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Beautiful German brown trout

On another visit in December 2016, Berk offered to take me fly fishing on the Weber River across from Taggart’s Grill, a restaurant he and his family own “nestled in a picturesque high desert canyon in scenic Morgan, Utah.  They offer a diverse menu featuring classic American entree’s, gourmet burgers, hand crafted sandwiches, and decadent home-made desserts.   The grounds surrounding the restaurant feature lush landscaping with a variety of vibrant flowers and foliage, a beautiful Koi pond featuring cascading waterfalls, and a small family of friendly peacocks.”  The restaurant is  located just off  I-84  between Morgan and Henefer Utah.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of dining at Taggart’s Grill you are denying your taste buds a very special treat.

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Taggart’s Grill near Morgan, Utah – photos courtesy of Mike Baker

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After that brief commercial break let me get back to my fishing tale.  December in this part of Utah is what you expect of winters.  Cold and snowy.  The temperature on this day was 29 degrees and there was a foot or more of snow along the banks of the Weber River which was running clear and very cold.  We left the restaurant late in the day and walked under the interstate highway to the river.  The sky was overcast and snow flurries drifted down around us.  Again, Berk provided all the gear and equipment I needed.  About a week before I arrived Berk had two pesky raccoons that were residing in his chimney or somewhere on the roof of his house.  Being a fair minded individual he told the raccoons they had 8 hours to vacate the premises or else.  Well, or else happened, and since he ties his own flies, Berk took some clippings from the raccoons fur and tied a few flies and gave me the honor of testing his new flies on the German brown trout population in the Weber River. After several casts upstream and letting the “raccoon” fly drift downstream I hooked a trout.  Berk was happy his “raccoon” flies proved worthy and I was glad to have participated in his experiment.  We fished for a couple hours until the light faded and our feet and hands were nearly frozen.  I managed to catch 3 trout and Berk caught a half dozen.  We released these fish, as Berk always does, unless he wants a few for a meal or a friend asks for a few trout to eat.

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Sorry for the blurry picture

My wife and I look forward to our next visit to Utah to visit our son and his girlfriend, a lovely young woman whom we consider our daughter-in-law.  They live up in a canyon at about 8,000 feet above sea level which is inviting to a lot of the local wildlife such as moose and elk.  We look forward to visiting at a time when there is not several feet of snow on the ground which keeps these large creatures down in the lower elevations to forage for food.  For now we regularly get pictures and videos of moose and elk wandering through their yard seemingly unconcerned about the human inhabitants.

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This young bull moose almost came to the back door – photo courtesy of Mike Baker

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This gal slept outside their bedroom one night – photo courtesy of Mike Baker

Keep Moving on the Water

Fishing is another activity that keeps me moving.  However, to say I am an avid fisherman would be a misnomer.  I like to fish but to be honest I don’t fish as much as I would like.  There are so many activities I like to do to Keep Moving.  It is not often that I focus on one activity for any length of time with the exception of training for my bicycle trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  I usually rotate activities depending on how I feel and if I have a specific goal to achieve, i.e., getting into “softball shape” each spring and fall.

Fishing and boating entered the picture when we retired to Beaufort County, South Carolina.  With thirty-eight percent (38%) of Beaufort County consisting of water in the form of tidal creeks and rivers, not to mention the ocean, I wanted the ability to see more of the county than you can see from a car.  So when I retired I bought an 18 foot Key Largo center console fishing boat because of the great fishing and dolphin watching opportunities.

My initiation to salt water fishing came the first time, Eddie, the Director of the County department I worked for asked me to go fishing in his 21 foot Carolina Skiff.  I jumped at the chance because I had no experience with salt water fishing.  On the day we decided to fish we left the Station Creek boat launch on St. Helena Island just before low tide and passed through salt water marshes lined with oyster beds and marsh grass all accented with the aroma of pluff mud as we headed towards Trenchards Inlet and south to Gale Break, a location on the north side of the Broad River across from Hilton Head Island. What makes this such a special place is there is no development and with the exception of the very limited view of Hilton Head Island 4 miles to the south there is nothing but pines, palm trees, sand, and driftwood.  I could stand in the surf for hours with my Ugly Stick fishing rod watching the waves and the white puffy clouds and feel like I was the only person on earth.

On the way we took a side trip up a small creek where Eddie caught a few mullet for bait using a cast net.  I am still learning to throw my 6 foot Betts Saltwater fishing net and I produce a good throw maybe 2 out of 5 times.  No doubt I scare away more bait fish than I catch.

Gale Break is an area where the shoreline is constantly undergoing transformation from storms and shifting tides.  At one point there was small “lagoon” with an entrance channel created by a sandbar curling away from the beach that afforded us a place to anchor the boat in calm water.   From there we would walk over the sandbar to the beach to surf fish.  Each time we went to Gale Break over the next few years sandbars appeared where none existed the year before or navigation channels around the sandbars changed.  I went back to Gale Break a few years later and the tides and storms closed off the entrance channel and turned the “lagoon” into a saltwater pond that would flood at high tide and return when the tide receded leaving redfish, flounder, mullet, and other species stranded until the next high tide. For a while this became a good place to catch bait fish.  But subsequent storms eventually filled this saltwater pond with sand and it disappeared.

I don’t think a fishing trip to Gale Break with Eddie ever ended without us bringing a few redfish home in the cooler.   I don’t know about elsewhere but in South Carolina to keep a redfish they have to be between 15″ and 23″.

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Me and my neighbor Bob showing off our redfish after a fishing trip with Eddie

At times those fish seemed to feast on the cut mullet we used for bait on the incoming waves as the flood tide rolled in.  There isn’t much better than a dinner of freshly caught redfish.  My wife lightly coated the fillets with Zataran’s and pan fried the fillets until they were a flakey golden brown.

I’ve learned a lot about saltwater fishing but still consider myself a newbie.  For example, knowing when to fish on certain tides, moon phases, consideration of the wind direction and the effect on surf conditions, learn about fishing inlets where small fish move with the tide, and other environmental factors that affect how fish behave and feed. But the great thing about fishing in the ocean and its tributaries is you have no idea what type of fish you will bring to the surface.  Could be redfish, whiting, sharks, lady fish (although once you catch a lady fish you will know what you have the next time you hook one because those fish are quite acrobatic), stingray, etc.  So if you haven’t gone fishing in a long time find a body of water, wet a line, and enjoy the peace and serenity that is the next best thing to catching fish.

Keep Moving by Volunteering

My blogging theme of “Keep Moving” involves more than just riding a bicycle, jogging and other forms of exercise, travel, gardening, volunteering, and other hobbies.  It is about doing and experiencing things you never thought you would have the time or money to do, or things you have dreamed of doing all your life but work and “life” got in the way.  It is about having a reason to get out of bed each morning with the idea that “I can do anything I want today.”  In retirement no one expects you to be at a certain place at a certain time.  You control your time and how you spend it.

Many people choose to work part-time in retirement which is wonderful.  Some work for financial reasons and others work to keep them engaged with other people and keep them moving instead of retiring to a recliner in front of a television with a bag of Doritos.  If I would work part-time in retirement it would only be in a job that I did not have to think too much.  Give me a task and leave me alone.  I would not want to supervise other employees or be in some high stress position.  Just a job, not another career.  I obviously did not go in that direction but I can see why others do.  I am fortunate and very thankful that I do not have to work to get by in retirement which is a blessing.

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Many people do volunteer work to keep them involved and active by giving back to their communities.  My wife and I have a very good friend who volunteers at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank near her home.  She is a very talented individual and those running the food bank soon discovered she had skills they could use.  She eventually agreed to work part-time for a few years before retiring again but she still volunteers one day a week.

On a recent visit I had the privilege of joining her and a group of her fellow volunteers to spend a few hours filling 280 boxes of food to be distributed as supplemental food for needy seniors.  Seniors are a growing demographic needing assistance but are often reluctant to ask for assistance, and that specific need is expected to increase by 50% by 2025.  Each box contained 2 boxes of cereal, 2 boxes of milk, 2 boxes of macaroni, a half gallon of orange juice and a half gallon of cranberry juice, 2 cans of green beans, 2 cans of canned pears, canned mixed vegetables, canned potatoes, canned white meat chicken and recipes.  These items will then be supplemented with fresh vegetables.  It was quite a production and was probably the best workout I had in the past two weeks and gave me a greater appreciation for the work these volunteers do each week.

The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, was founded in 1981 with the idea that “hunger is unacceptable, that everyone deserves enough food, that food sustains life and nourishes our health, and we are called to serve neighbors in need without judgement”.  Today this organization serves 25 counties and 8 cities on both sides of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Their location in Verona, Virginia serves as a central distribution center for distribution centers in Lynchburg, Va., Charlottesville, Va., and Winchester, Va.  They provide 114,400 of people in need with nutritious food each month through a network of 215 food pantries, soup kitchens, churches, etc.  What is remarkable is that much of this service is provided by volunteers.  For example, according to their website, in 2016 there were over 24,000 volunteer hours that made possible the distribution of over 25 million pounds of food.  For more information about the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank or if you wish to make a donation or offer your services you can check out their website:  www.brafb.org.

 

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There are many people in my Sun City Hilton Head community who regularly volunteer at food banks and church sponsored thrift stores, while others volunteer at local schools and churches. These are people who have been blessed throughout their lives and felt the need to give back to their neighbors and their communities.  With all the negative news in the world today it is sad that more volunteers do not receive recognition for their valuable contributions to their communities.  These are definitely people that make the world a better place.

 

“Keep Moving” is a Lifetime Challenge

My reason for writing these blogs is to encourage people in or near retirement to “Keep Moving”.  Even those who are years away from the traditional retirement age should follow this advice or the advice of some retirement expert.  Most of us hope to have a full and active retirement, but just like preparing financially for retirement we also need to take steps to maintain good overall health and healthy habits in order to achieve that goal.

A recent article by Kelli B. Grant for CNBC follows along with my thinking (or visa vera) that “not all investments for retirement are financial.”  She cited an Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey from early 2017 that polled 14,000 workers and 1,600 retirees in 15 countries.  This survey found that few were taking steps to stay healthy to achieve their retirement goals.  The survey looked at behaviors such as:

  • avoiding harmful behaviors (alcohol, tobacco use, etc.)
  • eating healthy
  • regular exercise
  • thinking about long term health when making lifestyle choices
  • taking their health seriously (regular medical check-ups)
  • practicing mindfulness (i.e., meditation)

The study found that globally, half of the workers got regular exercise and 57% ate healthy.  Almost half engaged in 2 or fewer healthy behaviors, while 8% did not do any of these.  Only 5% said they engaged in all healthy behaviors.

The report also concluded that poor health in retirement could have a severe impact on a retiree’s financial well-being because of increased medical costs.  Incorporating healthy lifestyle behaviors early in life doesn’t guarantee a happy and healthy retirement but it does give you a better chance to meet your retirement goals and “Keep Moving”.