5 ways to a longer, healthier, happier life

The best ways to sustain or improve physical, mental and financial wellbeing are sometimes the simplest.

You may be surprised to know when it comes to living a longer life, and leading a healthier and more active lifestyle, the best methods are often easy tasks you can turn into everyday habits.

And, with the government projecting that in 40 years the number of people aged over 100 will be 300 times what it was in the mid-1970s1, it’s worth keeping your physical and financial wellbeing in check.

If you’re after ideas, here are some tips to sustaining health and financial freedom in the years ahead.

1. Physical activity

The Department of Health and Ageing, which offers tips on different exercises and where to start2, recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week and says being active in 10 to 15 minute slots can work just as well.3

Different forms of individual or group exercise can include brisk walking, golf, bike riding, gym classes, Pilates, tai chi, yoga, water aerobics, swimming, sailing or dancing.

You may be able to locate activities near you via Active Ageing Australia if you’re looking for ideas.

As for the benefits, the Australian Medical Association4 says regular exercise has the potential to:

  • increase life expectancy
  • reduce the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes
  • reduce high blood pressure and the risk of falls
  • improve bone health and body mass 
  • ease feelings of stress, anxiety and depression
  • enhance mobility and balance.

2. Regular check-ups

While many health issues can be aided by physical activity, you may still need to talk with your doctor, physiotherapist, podiatrist or local fitness centre about the type and amount of activity you can do.

Remember, making time for regular check-ups is a great way to take care of your overall health and ensure you stay on top of any issues before they escalate.

3. Mental stimulation

Researchers believe many supposed age-related changes are in fact lifestyle related. Memory loss, for instance, can reportedly be improved by 30% to 50% simply by keeping the brain active.5

Some ways to do this could include:

  • taking up a hobby - YOURLifeChoices and About Over 50 have many ideas
  • enhancing your tech skills through groups like ReadyTechGo 
  • getting a full or part-time job - the website Older Workers has suggestions
  • reading and doing crossword puzzles, or playing card games or chess
  • downloading smart phone apps, such as Words with Friends, where you can play word games online with other people, and Lumosity, where you can participate in brain teasers daily.

4. Support network

According to Beyond Blue, older people who remain connected with others are likely to report that they have a better quality of life, have delayed progression of dementia or mental decline, and need less domestic support while enjoying greater independence.6

For this reason, choosing hobbies or activities you like and having a buddy to team up with may make it more fun, with social connectedness leading to a greater sense of wellbeing.

If you’re looking for ideas, you can check out activities and excursions through groups like Probus. If you’re also keen to help others you can find a national database of opportunities at GoVolunteer.

Meanwhile, if you need assistance in this area, there are social support services that can help you to maintain an active social life by having someone visit you at home, or by arranging visits and outings.

5. Financial wellbeing

With Australians having one of the longest life expectancies in the world today, one of the catches is that a longer retirement will also cost you more.

To give you an idea, June 2017 figures7 show individuals and couples, around age 65, who are looking to retire today, need an annual budget of $43,695 and $60,063 respectively to fund a comfortable lifestyle. This assumes they own their home outright and are in relatively good health.

By comparison, the maximum annual Age Pension rate for a single and couple is currently around $23,095 and $34,819 respectively8, keeping in mind not everyone is eligible for government assistance.

Remember, your financial situation, as well as your health, are important, as both will affect how comfortably your current and future lifestyle will be.

Need assistance?

Planning ahead can make the world of difference to your wellbeing in retirement. If you’re after additional tools and resources to help you on your way, check out:

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© AMP Life Limited. This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account. It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, AMP does not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, AMP does not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.