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Get Ready for Retirement

If you don’t plan to stay active and social in your golden years, then you could be putting your health at risk.

A number of studies – including one by Dhaval Dave, an associate professor of economics at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts – have proven that a sedentary retirement can have adverse effects on people’s health. Between 1992 and 2005, and the study found that those who retire completely see a five percent to 16 percent increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities in the six years after retirement, and a five percent to six percent increase in illnesses like heart disease, stroke and arthritis.

A big reason why people get sick after they retire, say researchers, is that work is one of our most stimulating activities. Most of us get the majority of our cognitive and social stimulation at our day jobs, says Dave. We also get a lot of physical activity too, even if it may not seem like it – you get a lot more exercise walking to work or even from the parking lot to the office than sitting in front of the TV. Once you take away the job, many retirees are faced with a less active lifestyle, both physically and mentally. “It’s the old adage, use it or lose it,” says Dave.

Plan to be busy

To stay healthy and happy, retirees need to stay active, and it’s that part of retirement planning that most prospective retirees forget about. In some ways, figuring out what you’re going to do is more important than ever before. The average life expectancy in Canada is 81, which means many baby boomers are staring down two decades or more of retirement. “This is one of our longest life stages, yet we tend to do the least amount of planning on what that might look like,” says Eileen Chadnick, a certified professional coach and founder of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. “We need a certain amount of stress for our brains to be able to operate efficiently. When we start to feel marginal, it’s bye-bye mojo, bye-bye thinking capacity. We lose our sense of self.”

Investors Group retirement planning expert Dave Ablett adds that an active and engaging retirement lifestyle also requires a solid financial plan. “It’s about more than saving and accumulating,” Ablett said. “Tax planning, insurance coverage and ensuring that you get the most out of your money are all important factors in a happy and healthy retirement.”

December 14, 2015

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.