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Staying Fit


Doctors report that those who stay mentally and spiritually fit also tend to pay attention to physical fitness as well.


staying fit in retirement

by Norma J. Goldman


It’s here for some and almost here for others—retirement! At last, your hope of days on the lake, weeks in the mountains and years of enjoyment (with no responsibilities, of course) is reality. But is it reality or a product of wishful thinking? I’m four years into retirement, and while there have been some days on the lake, and a week in the mountains, the part about “no responsibilities” hasn’t happened yet!

Through observation, I’ve seen striking differences between those thrive in retirement and those who do not. Take a mental inventory of the retirees you know in the areas of spiritual, mental, and physical fitness and test these observations.


The Spiritually Fit

Retirement offers tremendous opportunities to grow and remain spiritually fit, since there are more hours available for service, Bible study, prayer, and ministry to others. But the habits established pre-retirement are likely to remain in place. If you didn’t make time for these during your working years, it’s likely you’ll continue in that pattern unless someone challenges you to do something different. (I hope I’m challenging you!)

It takes the same discipline in retirement to maintain an active prayer life, to read, study and meditate on God’s Word, to make time for others, to share your faith, to serve through your local church, to take part in mission endeavors, and to invest in people’s lives.

The Christians I’ve observed who maintain these disciplines are not only spiritually fit, but they are a blessing to those around them. Their contributions of time, talents, and spiritual gifts are a strength and encouragement in their churches, homes and communities.

The Mentally Fit

Lifelong learning characterizes those who remain mentally fit in retirement. One retiree comes to mind. I’ll call him Joe. He spent his career in building plants for the automobile industry. In retirement, he has overseen five consecutive building projects for his own church, saving the congregation hundreds of thousands of dollars in materials and project management costs. To look at him, you wouldn’t think him to be a day over 55. By continuing to use his skills, he’s maintained his mental fitness.

One couple who spent their career on the mission field now prepare mission volunteers in how to be culturally sensitive, how to build relationships as they witness, and how to plant and grow new churches. Their grasp of world evangelization is not based on their past experiences, but what they are learning now about South Africa, Brazil, and Muslim-dominated countries.

Those with physical limitations can find ways to use and express God-given talents through prayer ministry, or by calling and writing notes of encouragement to sick and elderly members of their church congregation. Medical experts say that even working puzzles of any kind is good mental exercise.


The Physically Fit

Maintaining a good, healthy diet and a plan for daily exercise helps retirees make the most of their retirement years. While diet and exercise do not cure disease, they are deterrents to most common ailments like diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and high-blood pressure.

American culture focuses a great deal on food, which presents both pressure and challenges to seniors. Potluck suppers and group outings are generally calorie-laden feasts that tempt us to eat what we normally avoid (sugars, fats and starches) and more than we normally eat. Occasional potlucks are a great way to socialize, but too many add up to trouble!

Interestingly, doctors report that those who stay mentally and spiritually fit also tend to pay attention to physical fitness as well. Do you see the pattern that emerges? Fitness in mind, soul and body requires a purposeful plan, regular attention and good choices. How fit are you?


ABOUT THE WRITER: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful freelance writing career in her retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN.


©2009 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists