By Ernie J. Zelinski
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Health in Retirement Image 

Health Is the Best Retirement Gift

to Give Yourself

Although, financial worries are now putting the brakes on retirement plans for many Canadian and Americans, health, not finances, is the top concern for retired Canadians. A recent RBC Bank survey found that retirees would rather have good health than no financial concerns. Indeed, when retirees were asked to state the best retirement gifts they could receive, good health, cited by 53 percent, ranked higher than no financial worries, cited by 30 percent.

He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not.
— Italian proverb

Interestingly, for Canadians who have not yet retired, the reverse is true. More soon-to-be retirees  — 38 percent —  ranked no financial worries as the best retirement gift they could give themselves whereas only 34 percent ranked health as the most important retirement gift.

A few people actually choose the two books The Joy of Not Working and How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free as the best retirement gifts that they can give themselves if they have their health and their finances are great. The books help retirees find fun things to do when they retire.

Retirement Cafe Book

I retired early for health reasons — my company was sick of me and I was sick of them.
— Unknown wise person

Only nine per cent of pre-retired Canadians believe that health issues will influence them to retire (well below the 24 percent who cite qualifying for a pension, and the 13 percent who cite company downsizing). Yet approximately 25 percent of retired Canadians claimed that health issues was the main reason that they retired, according to the RBC 19th annual RRSP poll.

Don't take good health for granted.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Around the same time a Scotiabank survey found more than one-third of Canadians aged 50 or over were thinking of delaying their retirement plans. However, the RBC survey found that once retired, health increases in importance, with 51 percent of retirees saying they have changed their lifestyle to ensure a healthy retirement. Eight of ten of those who did change their lifestyle say they have a better diet, 69 percent are exercising more and 64 per cent are attending regular medical appointments.

A lot of people lose their health trying to become wealthy, and then lose their wealth trying to get back their health..
— Author Unknown

Laugh often. Starting your day with a good laugh, or at least a big smile, is as beneficial to your health as it is to your mood. Scientific studies at Northwestern University and Fordham University concluded that laughter benefits the heart, lungs, stomach and other organs. It relaxes tensions, changes attitude, and increases the body's natural painkillers. And it has no harmful side effects.
— Harvey Mackay

And becoming healthier is part of the pre-retirement planning for many, the survey results suggest, showing that 41 percent of pre-retired Canadians plan on becoming healthier in retirement, with 80 percent of those planning on having a better diet, 79 per cent exercising more and 32 percent attending regular medical appointments.

Retirement Can Be Dangerous to Your Health!

A careful physician . . . before he attempts to administer a remedy to his patient, must investigate not only the malady of the man he wishes to cure, but also his habits when in health, and his physical constitution.
— Marcus Tullius Cicero

This comes from the book The Mindbody Prescription by Dr. John E. Sarno:  

"Retirement is generally dangerous to your health, whether you're a man  or a woman. The loss of status, the change of pattern and lifestyle  almost invariably produce disturbing internal reactions that may cause  emotional or physical symptoms."

"Some of the strongest feelings arise in the nonworking wife of a retiree. Now you have to interact with your husband all his waking hours; you may find yourself cooking three meals a day. One woman remarked that it's like having a teenager around the house again."

"If your husband gets sick, multiply the internal anger by ten. If doesn't matter how much you love him. If the marriage was  a little rocky before his illness, it may be worse after, adding to your internal rage."

Note: Also see Include Your Spouse in Your Retirement Plan and Not in My Retirement Plan.

Cycle Your Way to More Retirement Enjoyment and Better Health

When he was 66, Cincinnati, Ohio native Leo Weil moved to the retirement community of Sun City Palm Desert. Having had Adult Onset Type II diabetes for over 20 years, Weil was taking two insulin shots a day.

When money is lost, a little is lost.
When time is lost, much more is lost.
When health is lost, practically everything is lost.
And when creative spirit is lost, there is nothing left.
— from
How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

To be more active in his retirement life, he decided to take up cycling. A year later, much to his surprise, Weil's insulin needs were cut to almost half due to his regular bicycle rides.

He who has good health is young.
— H.G. Bohn

Two years after moving to Sun City, Weil decided to inform others about the benefits of exercise by biking from the San Francisco area back to his home at Sun City Palm, Desert. The 600-mile bike ride from Hall-Moon Bay near San Francisco to South City Palm Desert in Southern California took him 11 days to complete. Soon after completing this memorable journey, Weil started training for a bicycle trip he was planning to take across Europe.

More Retirement Advice Relating to Health 

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
— Constitution.
The World Health Organization

Never hurry. Take plenty of exercise. Always be cheerful. Take all the sleep you need. You may expect to be well.
— James Freeman Clarke

Early to bed and early to rise makes a person dull, boring, and despised.
— from the book
How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

You want to go easy on the suicide stuff — first thing you know, you'll ruin your health.
— Robert Benchley

Losing weight is simple. Even Forrest Gump could comprehend that to lose weight, you need to eat less than you burn off. But then 54 percent of the USA is overweight-to-obese, despite how simple it is to lose weight (it's just not easy).
— Unknown wise person

A half-hour walk is the most beneficial thing you can do for your ailments.
— from The Joy of Not Working

It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like.
— Jackie Mason

The beginning of health is to know the disease.
— Spanish Proverb

If you want to retire happy, great health is important. The foundation for all happiness lies in health. Physical, mental, or spiritual health — you must use it or lose it!
— from How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

After you're older, two things are possibly more important than any others: health and money.
— Helen Gurley Brown

Time spent in laughter is well invested.
— Unknown wise person

My health is good; it's my age that's bad.
— Roy Acuff (at 83)

Eat only when you are hungry. Drink only when you're thirsty. Sleep only when you're tired. Screw only when you're horny.
— Al Neuharth

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 now, we don't know where the hell she is.
— Ellen DeGeneris

People who don't know how to keep themselves healthy ought to have the decency to get themselves buried, and not waste time about it.
— Henrik Ibsen

The two best things I ever did for my health was quit smoking and get fired from my last real job, never to return to another.
— from Career Success WITHOUT a Real Job

Eat few suppers, and you'll need few medicines.
— Ben Franklin

One should only see a psychiatrist out of boredom..
— Muriel Spark

My only advice is to lay off alcohol, tobacco, and wild women. Any can kill you.
— James Biggs (104-year-old resident in a Dallas retirement-community)

 See Retirement Health Resources

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Author of The World's Best Retirement Book
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