Retirement is considered the ultimate goal for the majority of the American workforce, and while it is certainly a fantastic experience for many people, it’s also ranked as the 10th most stressful life event, more stressful even than the death of a close friend.

Why the difference in perception? When we reach our goal of ending the long period of working to maintain a certain lifestyle, it can sometimes come with a loss of a sense of purpose. The biggest keys to a happy and successful retirement are maintaining health and finding a way to feel that you’re contributing to the world or fulfilling additional goals even though you’re no longer part of the workforce. These two factors go hand in hand for ensuring a rich life after retirement.

After Retirement Ideas for Health

One of the biggest risks people face after retirement is slowing down too much. Of course you should take a much-needed and deserved break to relax and enjoy the lack of workplaces stresses, but don’t let this rest become too permanent. Now that you’re not tied to a desk or other workstation, you have the chance to discover which physical activities you actually enjoy.

Some options for healthy things to do after retirement include:
- jogging
- yoga
- dance
- swimming
- bicycling
- aerobics
- weight training

Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t participate in any of these activities because of your age – you’re only as old as you feel, after all. But if you do feel intimidated or uncomfortable in a fitness class full of young people, you can seek out your local senior center and ask about courses they offer.

Speak with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen to discuss any concerns or restrictions. If you’re not used to being active or on your feet often, you may need to work up to more vigorous exercise slowly. Ask your doctor whether you should consider a shoe insole for foot pain or supportive brace for back or knee pain.

If you aren’t able to do more strenuous exercise, even a regular walk around the block can be helpful for maintaining health.

After Retirement Ideas for Finding Your Purpose

This is the real fun part of retirement! Now that you no longer have to work to live, you can live for your work – whatever it may be. It could be a great time to start the business you always dreamed of (there is no rule that you can’t still work during retirement if you enjoy working). Or expand your horizons and travel the country or the world. There are plenty of other options as well:

- Volunteer. This can be with an established organization that you feel strongly about or something more informal. Maybe there is a young family on your street that could use a mentor or helping hand with the kids. Often if you just remain open to opportunity and extend an invitation, you’ll be surprised at the results.

- Go back to school. College isn’t just for the kids. If you’ve always loved learning, there’s no better time to take a class or two. Rather than worrying about being the oldest person in the room, realize that you can provide insights that those with less experience can appreciate.

- Take up a new (or old) hobby. If you’ve always been interested in gardening, woodworking or sewing, this is your perfect chance to expand your knowledge and spend time doing something worthwhile that you really love. Check out some library books and teach yourself a new skill.

- Adopt a pet. If you never had time to care for an animal while you were working, a dog or cat (or horse or small animal) can be a welcome addition to your home now. Especially if you live alone or if your spouse is still working and you have the house to yourself for long periods of time, a pet can provide excellent companionship, and you can feel good that you’re caring for another being that needs you. Walking a dog can also help you get outside and get the exercise you need.

- Tell your story. Even if you don’t feel a desire to write the great American novel, we all have individual experiences to share and a need to connect with others. Take a writing workshop, join a book club or even simply create the document you wish you’d had when you started your career, so that others can benefit.

There are so many things to do after retirement that it’s impossible to list them all. If you stay open to new ideas and possibilities you’ll soon be able to discover the activities that appeal to you most. And if work was truly your passion, you don’t have to stop. Find a new job in a field that interests you!

How do you stay healthy in retirement? What after retirement ideas do you find most interesting? Let us know in the comments.