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From yoga to basketball: My active retirement

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If you are going to enjoy your retirement, you need to be fit and healthy. I've been very fortunate with my health and have always been physically active; pursuing a range of sporting activities during my younger years which I hope has stood me in good stead and will help me to live an active retirement.

But while you might stay young in mind, your body will definitely not do all that it used to do. Other than actual health, I think mobility is absolutely important to keep up in retirement.

The value of staying active

My in-laws were great ambassadors of keeping fit, making sure they walked virtually every day of their retirement. My parents on the other hand were nowhere near as active, choosing more sedentary pastimes.

My mum sat for hours on end knitting, sewing and doing embroidery, and I often wonder whether that had any impact on her having a serious stroke, confining her to a life of watching TV and little else since then.

My parents' plans of doing more active things were brought to an abrupt end, much earlier than they'd thought, not just for Mum but for Dad too, whose role became that of a carer. 

Situations like this make me think about myself, and my wife, and our plans of an active retirement. So what steps have I taken to keep fit and healthy?

Firstly, I looked at my diet. While I do consider myself a little overweight, I do generally eat healthily, but I now make an extra effort. While I adore bread, this is one of the main causes of me both putting on the pounds and becoming bloated, giving the impression I am more overweight than I am. And although I consume alcohol, it’s not on what you'd call a 'regular' basis, but I might have 'a few' when the occasion suits me.

I took up yoga

I’ve always been a runner and I still like to go out when I can, although I am now more prone to injury – twisted or pulled muscles are a more frequent occurrence. With that in mind, someone asked me if I'd thought of doing yoga.

The mention of the word conjured up images of ladies in leotards, but it also brought to mind my next door neighbour, a retired lady who’s amazingly fit and active and always looks so healthy. She's been doing yoga for years so I decided to talk to her. She offered to do a few taster sessions.

This is when I realised I must be one of the most un-supple people on the planet! Perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but when I finally decided to attend an 'official' yoga class, I realised that my body was very stiff, despite the fact I’d always been reasonably active.

BKS Iyengar, who founded Iyengar yoga, practiced each and every day until he died. He was 95 years old... a true inspiration for anyone, young and old!

It’s been just over two years since I began attending my local centre for Iyengar Yoga. This is a very disciplined style of yoga and challenges my body to the limit, but leaves me energised and relaxed .

I rekindled an old flame

All this stretching and keeping fit led me back to an activity that I loved in my youth and missed in later life - basketball.

I was talking with an old teacher friend who I used to play in a team with years ago. He said he was still playing, so invited me to come down and join a team of both old and young players. I took him up on the offer and have returned to the courts.

Of course, my body can’t do what it used to, but it's been great to join them and it’s another step towards my goal of an active retirement. I know this would definitely have not been possible without my yoga!

Staying active in retirement it an important part of my life and I hope I’ve inspired you to get involved in activities which will allow you to remain fit and healthy for years to come.

I'm sure as you read this, you can think of plenty of things to do in retirement, but I'd definitely suggest considering yoga as part of any programme.

Do you live a fit and active lifestyle? Which activities do you take part in? Do you have a list of things to do in retirement? We’d love to hear from you so please share your comments with us below.

This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.

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