A number of studies – including one by Dhaval Dave, an associate professor of economics at Bentley University– have proven that a sedentary retirement can have adverse effects on your health. The study found that those who retire completely see a five percent to 16 per cent increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities in the six years after retirement, and a five to six percent increase in illnesses like heart disease, stroke and arthritis.

A big reason why people get sick after they retire, say researchers, is that work is one of our most stimulating activities. “Most of us get the majority of our cognitive and social stimulation at our day jobs,” says Dave. “Once you take away the job, many retirees are faced with a less active lifestyle, both physically and mentally. It's the old adage, use it or lose it.”

Plan to be busy

To stay healthy and happy, it's important for retirees to be active. This is the part of retirement planning that most prospective retirees forget about. The average life expectancy in Canada is 81, which means many baby boomers are staring down two decades or more of retirement. This is one of our longest life stages, yet we tend to do the least amount of planning on what that might look like. We need a certain amount of stress for our brains to be able to operate efficiently. When we start to feel marginal, we lose our sense of self.

Investors Group retirement planning expert Dave Ablett adds that an active and engaging retirement lifestyle also requires a solid financial plan.

“It's about more than saving and accumulating,” Ablett says. “Tax planning, insurance coverage and ensuring that you get the most out of your money are all important factors in a happy and healthy retirement.”

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