According to various reports on the U.S. adult population, 68% are overweight, 57% have less than $1000 in a savings account, 49% are anxious or fearful about their current financial well-being, and 40% are not saving for retirement.
Almost 45% of Americans eat fast food at least once per week, and only 21.7% meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. And a new report just released, estimates 91% of adults and 69% of children are overfat – body fat excessive enough to damage health. Yikes!
Do you find these health and financial statistics as alarming as I do?
Why Be Normal? Elevate Your F’s To A Whole Other Level
After my wonderful week at FinCon17, I flew straight to Florida for some R&R before heading back home to Michigan. I joined my husband, who drove my mom down to winter in the warmth, and my son flew down a few days later to hang with us and celebrate my birthday.
Each time we are in Florida, I’m amazed by the retirement community and the people we meet. There are a few who amaze me with their abundant energy, packed activity schedule, compassion for others, and generosity. But, there are far more surprising me with their unhealthy habits, lack of activity, and bare-bones budgets.
(For anyone who’s not yet brainstormed their retirement date, I’d suggest spending a week in or around a retirement community. I’d think you’d come out with some definite ideas on when and how you do or do not want your future to look.)
I get that it’s hard to imagine yourself in your 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, other than with grey hair (or bald) and wrinkles. If you don’t consider and plan out at least a rough idea of how and where you want to live out your older years you probably won’t like what you end up with.
It’s clear most Americans are not saving enough money today to fund their lifestyles tomorrow, nor are they focusing enough on their daily diet and exercise to enjoy an active and healthy future. This type of normal is not for me, and I urge you not to let it be your normal either.
If you’d instead look forward to travel, playing golf or tennis, sitting in the sand with a drink in your hand, or skiing down a mountain in your retirement, then counting quarters and eating at McDonald’s you better pay attention now to some F-words in your life. The sooner you do, the greater each one will be.
Make the most of this life; It’s the only one you get
Tired of owing other people money? Over 70% of all workers are in debt, and 56% of them feel they will always be in debt.
Worried you’ll never be able to retire? 40% of Americans are not saving for retirement at all, and only 18% of Americans surveyed are very confident they’re saving enough for retirement.
Start making your financial health a priority by developing a plan for financial independence and create the habits you need to make it happen. For you, this may mean simple changes in your life – here are 100 ideas from the Simple Dollar to get you started – or it may mean drastic changes like getting rid of your sexy vehicles like my husband and I did.
Source: Business Insider/Andy Kiersz
The point is you can make at least one change today to put you on the path towards a better tomorrow and chances are you can make many changes to move you either faster or further. My friend Craig, at Retire Before Dad, explains the habits above-average retirement savers implement.
So again, please make your financial health a priority so you can spend your later years traveling to Italy and Spain if you want to.
“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~ Edward Stanley
To be active in your midlife and beyond, you need to be engaged today. Like your financial health, the longer you wait to start focusing on your physical health, the more difficult it becomes. So why not get active today?
With nearly 80% of the adult U.S. population not achieving the recommended aerobic and strength-training guidelines, this is one area you can quickly become above normal. You’ll feel a whole lot better and be able to enjoy hiking mountains or chasing your grandkids for years to come.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important key to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” ~ John F. Kennedy
“Exercise is a journey, not a destination. It must be continued for the rest of your life. We do not stop exercising because we grow old – we grow old because we stop exercising.” ~ Dr. Kenneth Cooper, Cooper Institute.
“The Greeks understood that mind and body must develop in harmonious proportions to produce a creative intelligence. And so did the most brilliant intelligence of our earliest days – Thomas Jefferson – when he said, not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise. If the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was Secretary of State, and twice President, could give it two hours, our children can give it ten or fifteen minutes.” ~ John F. Kennedy
At least 2 1/2 hours per week of moderately intense aerobic activity is recommended for adults 18-64 years of age. The 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity – slow cycling, water aerobics, brisk walking, gardening – can be broken up into several sessions performed throughout the week but each interval needs to be at least 10 minutes in length to achieve health benefits.
Alternatively, you can perform vigorously intense cardio – jogging/running, mountain biking, jumping rope, swimming laps – for 20 minutes a day, three days a week.
Strength training activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, performed at least two days a week, are also strongly recommended. Bonus! Many aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, running, basketball, tennis, and jumping rope, for example, also qualify as bone-strengthening activities; exercises that promote bone growth and strength by producing a force on the bones commonly through an impact with the ground.
The American Heart Association recommends aiming at the lowest part of your target heart rate zone (50%) during the first few weeks of an exercise program and gradually building up to 80 – 85%. Your maximum heart rate can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. Your target heart rate zone is then 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Think small and achievable weight loss goals. One to 2 pounds per week, not 5 or 10. For an idea of where you currently are, calculate your body mass index, your weight divided by your height in inches squared, multiplied by 703. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal.
Example: 140 lbs, 5’3″
[140 / (63 x 63)] x 703
(140 / 3,969) x 703
0.03527337 x 703 = 24.7971781
BMI = 24.80 within the normal range
Your BMI may not tell the whole story though so also consider your waist to height ratio as a recent study shows it’s a more accurate predictor of lifestyle-related diseases due to being overweight. Calculate your waist to height ratio by dividing waist size in inches by height in inches.
Ratio less than 43%: underweight
Ratio 43% to 52%: healthy weight
Ratio 53% to 62%: overweight
Ratio of over 63%: obese
Ratio less than 42%: underweight
Ratio 42% to 48%: healthy weight
Ratio 49% to 57%: overweight
Ratio of over 58%: obese
Can you move the way you used to? Test your flexibility by measuring how far you can reach while seated on the floor with your legs approximately 12 inches apart. The American Council on Exercise, states the average 36- to 45-year-old man can sit and reach 15 to 16 inches, while for women the range is 17 to 18 inches. If you need to increase your flexibility, consider speaking with a certified trainer or physical therapist to learn proper exercises to improve your range of movement.
Balance is easy to take for granted until we don’t have it anymore. Test your balance by seeing how long you can stand on one leg with the other leg slightly elevated. Perform the test three times per leg for a good average on each. If you find more than a 10% discrepancy in results between sides, work to address the weaker side. Simple acts such as standing on one leg while in line or while brushing your teeth can help.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to pay attention to what you eat. Not only does food fuel your body and affect how you feel and function physically, but it also directly affects the structure and function of your brain and even your mood.
“Your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low-premium” fuel (such as what you get from processed or refined foods) get to the brain, it has little ability to get rid of them. Diets high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to the brain. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression.” ~ Eva Selhub, MD
The better you eat, the better you feel. Not only today but tomorrow and ten or more years from now.
Scientists found the risk of death from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes “was higher for those who consumed too much sodium, processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and unprocessed red meat. Risk of death was also higher among those who didn’t eat enough nuts and seeds, seafood omega-3 fats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or polyunsaturated fats.” ~ NIH News In Health
Everyone deserves some joy in their life. Spending time laughing with family and friends or some alone time in nature helps to restore us and alleviate some of the stress we accumulate during the week.
“Our research has shown that when women get out there and play, the benefits are amazing, ” says Careen Yarnal, Ph.D., an associate professor of recreation, park, and tourism management at Penn State University. “They cope better with stress, which sets up protective mechanisms that contribute to health and well-being. And if they play with others, it creates bonding, and they get the benefit of social support, as well. Just as we know play is healthy for children, helping them blow off steam, learn, experiment, and make friends, we’re finding the same to be true for adult women. When it comes to stress prevention, play is like wearing a suit of armor.”
You don’t need to spend money to have fun. Visit a park, play some cards or board games, listen to uplifting music or read a book. Create a new recipe, go on a hike, or learn to draw.
Many wait until their retirement years to try new things, but why wait? Check out this list of 100 things to do in retirement and start some now, or this list of 101 things to do to avoid boredom in retirement.
“Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage (retirement), which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active.” ~ American Psychological Association
Set your money and health priorities and work towards them, but don’t forget to live and laugh along the way.
When you achieve financial independence, enjoy good health, and are living actively, how can you not have fun? Prioritize your future to enjoy many sunsets for years to come.
Reach out to me if you need assistance, I’ll do what I can to help you or aid you in finding someone else who can.
Do you know when you’ll retire? Where you’ll retire? What activities are you looking forward to in retirement? Please share!
Sources of those alarming health and financial statistics:
- More Than Half of Americans Have Less Than $1,000 in Savings in 2017
- Work Redefined
- American Family Financial Statistics
- Fast Food Eating Statistics
- Exercise or Physical Activity