Stay Active! Advice for Staying Fulfilled in Retirement

The author, Scott Ream, was a doctor for nearly 40 years and has been a Covenant member since 1978. Here, he provides some advice and ideas about how to be fulfilled during your  retirement years. 

Retirement offers many exciting possibilities for all of us; it also can pose a number of difficult issues. I retired as a primary care physician two years ago, but in the nearly 40 years that I practiced, I lived through the retirement transition with hundreds of patients. Retirement can be difficult for individuals who have had a very scheduled work life in which they accomplished task after task as the workday progressed. This can be especially challenging for those of us who did not have time to develop other interests because of work and family responsibilities. Suddenly we’re faced with lots of free time without an agenda to fill this void.

In my profession, I was able to see what worked for those who made the jump to a fulfilling retirement; I concluded that their success could be summarized in two words. Stay Active! There are three major areas in which to try to achieve this goal.

 

1. Stay Active Physically. Numerous studies show that regular physical activity is important in maintaining strength and agility, and retards the onset of cognitive decline. Staying fit increases the likelihood that you can enjoy those travels that you have been dreaming about and to fully enjoy those active grandchildren. It reduces falls, a major cause of disability, and significantly diminishes the risk of stroke and heart attack. All you need is about 30 minutes of physical activity four to five times per week. Activities could include walking, yoga, Pilates, working out at the gym or on home machines. Find something you enjoy. I cycle, mostly spinning classes, and walk. I’m always amazed by the burst of physical and psychic energy I have after this. Staying active reduces the risks of having a preventable medical issue. You can also reduce this risk by getting regular medical check-ups.

2. Stay Active Socially. Isolation is a real drain for many of us in terms of our sense of wellbeing. We need to interact with others to stimulate our interests in the world. Family can play a key role in this. Interacting with friends or joining groups where you will meet new people will expand your world. The church can be an important part of this. Covenant has many opportunities such as small groups, mission opportunities, study groups, choir and social groups. Stay connected!

3. Stay Active Mentally. It’s important to continue to learn and expand your mind. This helps prevent cognitive decline and also helps prevent depression. The church, as mentioned above, can provide a solid base for continued learning. We are also fortunate in Austin to have numerous groups that can also provide this stimulus, from local colleges to city facilities. I’m sure the new Central Library will also expand our options. Part-time work or volunteer activities also provide a source for “using your brain” regularly. Travel and hobbies also stimulate our minds.

I am in a Covenant Bible study and also in a continuing education program at UT. I have a part-time job that keeps me busy about a day a week. My wife and I have seven grandkids, all under eight years old, and they are in Houston, Durham, N.C., and Canterbury, England. That alone provides plenty of travel opportunities for us.

There is no one recipe that fits all. However, staying active in the above areas is very important. You need to find what suits you best, what you enjoy and what seems most meaningful. I can say that Covenant is here for you and can provide an entrance to many activities that will help you accomplish this. So start thinking and planning now on how to make your retirement an enriching experience.

For more information about Covenant Presbyterian Foundation, visit covenant.org/foundation/ or contact Duane Dube or any Trustee: Elizabeth Christian, Everard Davenport, Larry Faulkner, Megan Poore, Helene Maham, Kristin Schell and Scott Ream.

Covenant Presbyterian Foundation supports Covenant Presbyterian Church by assisting donors to be Faithful to Generations, during and beyond their own lives, by receiving and growing their gifts, and using them to help fulfill the donors’ glorification of God.

One generation will commend your works to another
…Psalm 145:4