Live Long and Well

Have good work to do, and a brisk walk to it.
– Delfinio Lujan, merchant, herbalist
This simple recipe for a long and good life comes from a centenarian, one of the Living Treasures of Santa Fe, NM. It pretty much sums up our philosophy at 2young2retire. Work you enjoy is a health maintenance strategy and life extender. If what you are doing is also something that contributes to the good of society, so much the better. As it turns out, socially significant work is where the opportunities are — in teaching and health care, to name two. And many people 50 and older are feeling the call to make a positive difference.
But even you wouldn’t characterize your work as a form of giving back, if you keep working past the age when you are ’supposed’ to retire, you are giving back. Here’s why. You are likely to stay in good health for much longer. Everyone has a story about a relative or friend who retired and began to decline. The other side of the coin is that people who work — whatever their reason for doing so — have far fewer visits to the doctor. Maybe feeling relevant and necessary is good for us in ways that can’t be measured by medical science today. But given the high cost of medical care, every year you avoid needing it, is a blessing to you personally, and a gift to society and future generations.
Get Physical
The second part of the quote underlines a key ingredient for health maintenance after age 50: vigorous physical activity every day for the rest of your life. If you are lucky enough to live a mile or two from your place of work, you’ve got a head start. You can’t help but notice how urban dwellers tend to be much trimmer and fitter than those of us who are dependent on a vehicle for every errand.
If you work at home, you have to be that much more disciplined about exercise, making sure whatever you choose is fun, so you’ll want to keep doing it, yet challenging enough to make a difference to your cardiovascular system. Most people need about 28 days to get into a new habit of biking, swimming, weight work, yoga, tai chi or Pilates — three ideal practices for the mature body — every day.
Commuters, start campaigning for a fitness break at work. Most of the best employers have added gyms and instructors. It’s a rare executive these days who doesn’t understand the relationship between exercise and better morale and productivity. Take a page from a centenarian’s playbook, and plan to make good use of your own century on Earth.