According to the USA Swimming Foundation, roughly 64% of black children have little to no swimming ability. While this statistic reinforces stereotypes about black people and swimming, there are myriad reasons for this...Read More
Maintaining healthy joints is so important to getting the most from life after 60. Unfortunately, few people escape joint aches and pains, however gracefully they age. Over 100 different types of arthritis can cause symptoms of pain, swelling, stiffness and restricted movement.
Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common, with one in two people over the age of 60 showing X-ray evidence of the condition. Often described as due to ‘wear and tear’, it is an active process in which cartilage protecting the bone ends weakens and flakes away.
This allows synovial fluid – the joint’s ‘oil’ – to leak into underlying bone causing mild inflammation. The bone responds by swelling so the joint space narrows. Eventually, the bone ends may rub together, causing increasing pain, stiffness and deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the second most common form of arthritis. This is an autoimmune condition in which immune cells attack the synovial membrane lining certain joints, especially in the wrists, hands and feet. Inflammation gradually spreads to involve other tissues and can lead to eye problems, weight loss, fever and exhaustion. Here are some things you can do to minimize the impact of arthritis.
Watch Your Weight to Maintain Healthy Joints
Whatever type of arthritis you have, aim to lose any excess weight. For every extra pound of fat you carry, the overall force across your knees when walking or standing increases by two to three pounds. So, carrying an additional 10 pounds of excess fat increases the force on your knees by up to 30 pounds. Excess fat, especially around your middle, also secretes substances that increase inflammation and can make pain and stiffness worse.
Follow a Joint-Friendly Diet
Joints thrive on the same healthy diet as your heart and brain. So select plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and oily fish. This includes salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, herrings, sardines, and pilchards. It is also important to obtain adequate amounts of fluid to maintain joint hydration.
If you have RA, following a plant-based diet can reduce the number of tender and swollen joints, pain, duration of morning stiffness and grip strength. Good intakes of vitamin D appear to be important, too. You can get more information on following a joint-friendly diet here.
Regular exercise strengthens muscles and maintains joint mobility. Non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling and swimming are easier than walking if joints are painful. Hydrotherapy, in which exercise is performed in a warm, deep pool, gives excellent results. Tai Chi can also improve pain and stiffness in older people with knee osteoarthritis. A physiotherapist can advise exercises to do at home. Hot or cold packs can help reduce pain associated with exercise, too.
Use Pain Relieving Creams and Gels
Topical treatments which sink through the skin to reduce pain in underlying joints are at least as effective as oral painkillers, and have less risk of producing side effects. The most effective, in my experience, are glucosamine gels, celedrin creams, comfrey ointments, green-lipped mussel gels and Voltarol gel. I’ve explained how these work in more detail here.
Take Supplements to Improve Joint Health
Different people respond to anti-inflammatory supplements in different ways. Best advice is to try them for two months before reassessing whether you need to try something else.
Omega-3 Fish Oils
Fish oils provide two long-chain, omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, which are converted in the body into substances that reduce inflammation, joint pain and swelling. A number of studies showing they can reduce the need for taking prescribed painkillers in OS and RA. If you eat fish regularly, a dose of 500mg to 1g per day is ideal. If you rarely eat fish, higher doses are needed for a good, anti-inflammatory effect. You can read more about how omega-3 fish oil, cod liver oil, and krill oil can help arthritis pain here.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
While glucosamine and chondroitin were originally thought to just act as building blocks to synthesis new cartilage and to make synovial fluid more cushioning, they are now known to reduce inflammation, suppress enzymes that breakdown cartilage, and act as biological signals to stimulate joint repair in osteoarthritis. Start with a dose of 1500mg glucosamine per day and add 1200mg chondroitin if glucosamine alone does not produce the relief you need. You can read my review of glucosamine supplements for aching joints.
Turmeric is an Ayurvedic medicine for treating arthritis. A recent study, involving over 360 people, confirms that turmeric is as effective in reducing knee pain and stiffness as prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, but with significantly fewer side effects. I’ve written about the many health benefits of turmeric here.
Other supplements are available, such as Devil’s claw, MSM and rose hip extracts, but most people will notice significant improvement from using a topical cream/gel and taking a fish oil supplement, together with glucosamine (with or without chondroitin) and/or turmeric. I have to say, since starting turmeric, my knee twinges have disappeared!
Do you take any supplements to maintain healthy joints? Which have you found most effective? Please leave your comments and join the conversation.
who go everywhere by car may have many complaints – traffic, the price of
petrol (gas), or finding a parking space. But at least they can expect to
travel in comfort.
of us, however, are dependent on buses, trains, and subways (known as the ‘underground’
or ‘tube’ in London and the ‘metro’ in some other places) to get around. We do
not always travel in comfort, despite such trips being part of our daily
Getting a Seat
remember the first time it happened. I was in my early 60s and standing in the underground
train, thinking about nothing in particular.
man in a seat was waving, trying to get someone’s attention, I assumed behind
me. But I looked behind and no one was there. My brain re-jigged the situation,
and I realised he was trying to get my
course, he was trying to offer me a seat. Me! Of all odd things to do. I was
young and able and waved him away to indicate I was fine.
was the very first time I was ever aware of being labelled as ‘old’ and it came
as a shock.
then it started to happen more often. Someone would prod me and point to a
person getting up, indicating that the vacated seat was available.
they would stand up very visibly and offer the seat there and then. On tube
trains, on buses. More and more frequently.
was one period when I had a bad back and sitting down was very painful. I
turned down the frequent offers. But once someone decides you need their seat,
it is very hard to dissuade them.
or twice, I even took a seat, which I didn’t want, because it was too
complicated to explain to the eager helper.
Who Offers Seats?
my experience, women are more likely to offer a seat than men and older people
more than younger ones. They seem, more often than not, to be foreigners,
brought up in an etiquette that no longer applies here.
I think it is happening more often. Perhaps there are more foreigners using
public transport in London. Or perhaps Londoners generally are becoming more
aware of the issue. Even young men, lost in their own worlds, do occasionally
Who Gets Seats?
often, it seems to be older women who are offered seats. And anyone with a cane
or otherwise visibly disabled. I know that when I have a cold or am generally
under the weather, I get offered one more readily. I assume it is because I am looking
men sometimes get one. My husband actually needs one more than I do, because of
a bad knee. If we are together, I will try to ensure he gets one, although it
is difficult to persuade him.
sometimes women with children or pregnant women get offered a seat, but the
latter are complicated as they might just be overweight.
know that nearly 40 years ago, I wasn’t offered a seat when I was nine months
pregnant and there was no mistaking it.
week, I watched a woman with a guide dog get on a bus and two people vacated a
double seat to allow her to sit with the dog next to her. I wondered how the
dog knew what was going on. But even more, I wondered how the dog knew which
bus to get on.
any case, the older I get, the more I welcome an offered seat. It is no longer
a surprise, but a wonderful relief to get off my feet.
do you travel around town? Do you get offered seats on public transportation? Do
you welcome them? Or do you still offer seats to others? Please share your
When it comes to financial security, Baby Boomers are somewhat of a mystery. On the one hand, we are often called “The richest generation of all time.” On the other hand, even after decades in the workforce, we still carry the second highest level of debt of any generation ($95,095 per person), second only to Gen X ($134,323.)
To make matters worse, unlike members of the Millennial and Gen X generations, we don’t have long to correct the situation before retirement hits us like a ton of bricks.
Simply put, if we want to get the most from retirement, we need to get series about paying our debt off fast.
I Paid Off $150,000 in Debt in 10-Years… and You Can Too!
So, what makes
me qualified to tell my fellow Baby Boomers how to pay off debt fast in the years
leading up to retirement? I’m not a financial expert. I don’t have a bunch of
3-letter acronyms in front of my name. And, therefore, nothing in this article
should be considered financial advice.
On the other hand, unlike many of the talking heads that you see on TV, I have actually paid off $150,000 in debt. I refused to declare bankruptcy and took the hard steps necessary to rebuild my financial life. I also started several successful businesses in my 60s.
So, first, I’ll share why your 50s and 60s may actually be the easiest time to pay down your debt. Then, I’ll talk walk through the exact steps that I used to pay off my own mountain of debt.
It wasn’t easy, but, I hope that I can make your path a bit smoother than mine was.
Still Deeply in Debt in Your 50s or 60s? Don’t Panic… You
Have a Lot on Your Side
Many of us are surprised to find that we still have debt by the time we reach our 50s and 60s. And, it’s not just credit card debt that haunts us.
According to the Guardian life insurance company, student debt among Baby Boomers grew 72% over the last 5 years. That’s more than any other generation due, in part, to our willingness to co-sign on our children (and grandchildren’s) loans.
There is one
silver lining to being in debt in your 50s and 60s, however. For several
reasons, this may actually be the easiest time in your life to pay down debt. Here
are a few reasons.
First, our 50s and 60s tend to be our peak earning years. And, with our kids (for the most part) out of the house, many of us have more cash left over at the end of the month than at other times in our lives.
Whether to put this money into our retirement accounts depends on many factors – such as the expected return of our investments vs the interest rate that we are paying to service our debt.
But, the main point here remains. Now is a great time to pay off your debt.
Second, as an
older adult, you actually have more leverage than at other points of your life
when it comes to negotiating your debt. Why? Because, the banks know that once
you reach retirement age and have to start living on a fixed income their
chances of getting their money back decrease significantly. Getting less now,
may be better than risking getting nothing tomorrow.
So, if you are
ready to deal with your debt in your 50s or 60s, stay positive! You are in a
stronger position than you think!
approach that I used to pay off my debt.
Step 1: Just the Facts Ma’am
important (and hardest) step in paying off your debt simply involved gathering
all of the necessary data. Why is this so hard? Because, writing down how much
you owe will force you to face your problems head on.
Trust me when
I say that I know how hard it is to be honest with yourself about your
financial situation. I ignored my own debts for years… and ended up paying $1,000s
more than I should have.
For as long as you are just blindly paying the monthly minimums on your credit cards and other sources of debt, you can pretend that everything is ok.
Don’t allow the little pain-avoiding magician in your head to say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” Take control today.
plenty of fancy tools (some free and some paid) that can help you to organize
and track your debts – Undebt.it, Unbury.me and Mint spring to mind. But, the truth
is that, unless your situation is especially complicated, you can usually
create a plan in Excel… or even on a good old fashioned piece of paper.
call your lenders, create a table like the following to keep track of the
amounts that you owe, the APR (interest rate) and minimum monthly payment:
Then, when you
are ready, it’s time to get on the phone with your banks, credit card companies
and other lenders. Ask them how much you owe, the APR and the monthly minimum.
It’s that simple.
Step 2: Choose a Plan: Snowball of Avalanche
Once you have
a good understanding of how much you owe and to whom, it’s time to pick a strategy
to start paying off your debt. And, at the end of the day, there are two main
approaches to choose from – the “Snowball” and the “Avalanche.”
With the “Snowball”
strategy, you would choose to pay off the debt source with the lowest total
amount due first. The goal here is to start creating psychological momentum… to
get some “wins” so that you are motivated to keep going with your debt-reduction
With the “Avalanche”
strategy, you would choose to pay down the debt source with the highest APR
first. The goal here is to focus on the highest-interest debt source in order
to free up cash as quickly as possible to further reduce your debt.
let’s assume that you had the following debt profile:
With the “Snowball”
approach, you would start paying down the loan from ABC Bank first since the
amount owed ($2,000) is less than the other two debt sources. Note that the
interest rate for ABC Bank (7%) is less than that of XYZ Credit Card (14%)
With the “Avalanche”
approach, you would start paying down the loan from XYZ Credit Card first since
the interest rate (14%) is higher than the next highest with ABC Bank (7%).
benefits and costs to both approaches and, since everyone’s situation is
different, it makes sense to discuss which strategy is best for you with a
financial advisor. But, at the end of the day, both approaches can work, if
Step 3: Negotiate Your Way to a Debt Free Live
What follows is definitely not financial advice. These techniques worked for me, but, this doesn’t mean that they are appropriate for your situation. That said, here’s are a few of the strategies that I used.
Lump Sum Payment
When I received a scary letter from a debt collection agency, my son stepped in to help. The amount that I owed was $8,000 and my son offered to loan me $5,000 towards the total. I decided that I would go a step further and simply offer the collection agency $5,000.
I was honest
with them. I told them that I simply couldn’t afford to pay back the full
amount, but, that a family member had offered to help. I asked them if they
would accept $5,000 to close the account completely… and, to my surprise, they
Will this work
in all situations? Of course not. But, if you do end up with a little extra
cash, what’s the harm in asking?
Simply Asking for a Reduction (Especially for Credit Card Interest Rates)
As I wrote in
a previous article, the number one reason that people fail in a negotiation is
that they fail to negotiate. When you reach this step in the process, I highly
encourage you to check out my article, “How
to Negotiate in Everyday Life So That You Save More and Retire Richer.”
it takes is the threat to pay off your balance with a new credit card that has
a lower interest rate to get your bank to change their tune.
Step 4: How to Stay Out of Debt (for Good!)
Once you have
a plan in place to pay off your loans, how do you stop your debt pile from
Well, if the main
source of your debt is credit cards, then the answer is simple… cut them up (or
freeze them if you need them for emergencies). But, you already knew that!
experience, however, it’s not consumerism that gets older adults into (new)
debt. It’s the desire to help other people.
Once again, I’m
not judging. I have helped both of my sons when they fell on tough times. I
paid for my kids’ education. And, I still put money aside for my grandkids.
All I am
saying is that each and every one of us has the right to be financially free.
Just like the emergency video on an airplane will tell you to “Put your own
mask on before helping others,” we need to apply this same approach to our
The key here
is to be honest with yourself and your family… honest about your debt triggers,
financial resources and goals for the future. Otherwise, you risk playing the role
of “grandma piggybank” until you have nothing more to give.
Don’t Give Up!
No matter were
you are on your financial journey, don’t give up! I am living proof that it is
possible to pay off almost any amount of debt… at any age!
important thing is to take action. Don’t wait another day. You are strong! You can
Why do you
think so many older adults are still in debt? What advice would you give to the
other people in our community who are trying to get debt free? Let’s have a
If there is one thing that financial advisors, the media and seniors agree on it is that “the older you get, the less risk you should take with your money.” On the surface, this advice makes perfect sense. After all, having 100% of your money in stocks, one year before retirement could have disastrous consequences… especially if the market dips right before you start to cash out your savings.
I can’t help but wonder though whether the advice that you all accept regarding how to manage risk in the years leading up to retirement isn’t having unintended consequences in other parts of our financial lives.
In other words, as older adults, are we applying the concept of risk reduction too broadly and, as a result, missing out on financial (and other life) opportunities.
Are Anti-Risk Words and Images Coloring Your Financial Future?
If there is one thing that I have learned in my 40+ years in marketing, it is that words matter. The way that we talk about concepts – both individually and as a society – has a powerful impact on our thoughts and beliefs.
Think for a second about how retirement is portrayed in the movies and on TV. Culturally speaking, retirement is a time for slowing down and hoarding our assets. It is a time for shutting yourself off from the world and looking back wistfully at the “good old days.” It is a time for rejecting risks and accepting reality.
On a practical level, the financial advice that we receive is equally risk-averse. The older we get, the more of our money we are supposed to shift out of stocks and into bonds. Now, I’ll leave the discussion of whether bonds are really as safe as we think they are for another article. For now, I just want to focus on the multiplier effect that our risk aversion may be having on other aspects of our lives.
The question is this: As older adults, have we taken risk aversion and financial pessimism too far? Has our desire to avoid portfolio risk made us less likely to start businesses, move to cheaper cities (or abroad), accurately estimate our life expectancy and take social risks?
There Are Good Risks and Bad Risks at Every Stage of Our Lives
By now, we know that not all risks are created equal. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day is a risky behavior with almost no upside. Starting a business could be considered risky, but, it also has the potential to change your life for the better.
Likewise, when it comes to how we think about risk in retirement, it pays to evaluate each opportunity separately.
Leaving all of your money in stocks may be genuinely risky for someone who needs to live off of their retirement savings. At the same time, moving all of your money into government bonds when you are in good health and, as a result, will probably live for 20-30 years could also be considered risky. It’s all about finding balance.
But, being too conservative with your portfolio is not the worst consequence of accepting the risk avoidance mentality of aging. The worst consequences of risk aversion are that they can prevent us from reaching our potential in other areas of our lives.
Starting a Business is Not as Risky as it Feels
There is a (false) belief that younger adults make better entrepreneurs than their older counterparts. Part of the reason that we believe the myth that younger entrepreneurs are more successful has to do with our perceptions of risk; on some level, we instinctually see young adults as being willing to take more risks.
The truth is that older adults are consistently more successful with our business ventures. In fact, statistically speaking, the older you are, the more likely you are to be able to turn your idea into a profitable venture.
After interviewing 100s of pre-retirees and retirees, I can tell you that our risk aversion is one of the biggest factors holding us back from starting businesses.
Ironically, starting a business could help you to avoid one of the biggest risks that we all face as we get a little older – running out of money in retirement. By accepting small financial risks now, you may be able to avoid large money problems in the future.
To be clear, starting a business doesn’t have to involve a large upfront financial investment. I’m certainly not saying that you should cash out your 401K to work on that idea for a walking kettle that you have always had in the back of your mind.
There are plenty of businesses that can be started for almost nothing – consulting, writing, dog walking, babysitting, teaching, soap making, marketing, PR, chocolate making, etc. And, once you see some success, you can always reinvest your profits in more complex ventures, if you so desire.
Be Cautious with Your Money But Bold with Your Life After Retirement
Accepting the idea that old people should be risk averse is one of the fastest ways to kill your dreams in retirement. Life is inherently risky and we can’t hide from this simple fact.
I know so many people who would love to retire abroad. These soon-to-be-retirees see how much further their Social Security checks could stretch in another country. They may also love the idea of living in a warmer climate or experiencing a new culture.
The majority of these older adults will never find the courage to leave their comfort zone. Why? Because they have hundreds of little perceived risks rattling around in their heads.
What if I can’t make friends?
What if I get sick?
What if I can’t speak the language?
What if I miss my family?
To be clear, these are valid concerns. But, for most people, they are also completely solvable problems.
By the way, it is not just our financial lives that suffer when we accept risk aversion in retirement.
Dating is risky. Sports are risky. Riding a bike is risky. Traveling by yourself is risky. But, doing nothing in retirement is the riskiest choice of all!
The bottom line is that, if we want to get the most from life after retirement, we need to separate portfolio risk from other perceived risks. We should absolutely listen to our financial advisors when it comes to our money, but, we should listen to our hearts and heads when it comes to everything else.
Do you think that, as older adults, we tend to be too risk-averse when it comes to our money, businesses and lives? Why or why not? What impact, if any, do you think the media has on our perceptions of risk? Let’s have a conversation.
There are so many benefits of massage for everyone, and, particularly as we age, we need to think about giving our bodies and joints a bit more care than in our younger years. It’s not just about looking after our bodies. We also need to do things to improve our well-being and ensure we are caring for our minds and happiness as well.
Everyone Can Benefit from Self-Massage
In a perfect world, we would all go for a massage once a week and feel fantastic, but, unfortunately this is often not possible. There are alternatives though and, while it’s not quite as relaxing to give yourself a massage, it can still be extremely beneficial.
Even if you just allow yourself 10 minutes to massage out your shoulders or arms and hands it can significantly decrease pain, improve mobility, mood and overall well-being.
For those that experience pain in their joints or headache type pain a small amount of massage to the area each day can help increase circulation and relax tension in these areas.
There are a few ways you can apply massage to yourself, including the following 3, which I use frequently.
Using Hands and Forearms
You can use your hands and forearms to massage areas such as your hands, arms, legs, feet, face and neck.
Apply a small amount of oil to your hands or forearms and massage into the area you want to target. For example, on your arms, you can use your opposite hand to massage up the muscles to your elbow.
Use your thumbs, especially, to move across the muscle fibres and break up any adhesions. Pick up the muscle fibres between your thumb and fingers (like a pinching action) and massage the muscle this way. If you prefer a deeper pressure, make a fist and use your flattened knuckle area to apply the pressure.
If you have painful joints in your hands, using them to massage is probably not the best option as this could worsen the pain. In this case, use your forearm and move down the opposite forearm both front and back and use your elbow as you would your thumb.
You can even massage into the palm area gently, using circular motions with your elbow. The same techniques can be used on your legs and feet. Use your forearms for the larger areas such as the thigh.
To ease neck tension, gently apply pressure with your fingers in the ditch along your spine. Run your fingers up the neck into the back of the head. There is often a lot of tension held in the muscles at the top of the neck which cause headaches. It is important not to massage directly on the spine or the side of the neck where you may hit nerves.
For harder to reach places such as your back and shoulders, unless you are a contortionist, there is no way you will be able to self-massage these with your hands.
This is where massage aids come into play. These are also really helpful for those suffering from ailments such as arthritis, when using your hands might not be an option. Using aids, you can easily lie on the floor, use them up against a wall or apply directly to the area and roll with your opposite hand.
Using a simple item, like a tennis ball, is often sufficient, but, personally, I like something a little firmer – like a spiky massage ball.
Stand against a wall with the ball between the wall and your back or shoulders. Roll gently across or up and down the wall moving the ball where you want to massage. If you feel any areas that feel particularly tight or painful you can pause on these with the ball and hold for a few seconds then release. You can even do the tops of your arms and chest once you get the hang of using the ball.
Foam rollers can be used in a similar way to cover broader areas. Rollers are great for self-massaging into the hips and leg areas. Be sure to start off with a softer type roller as the harder they are it can be a little painful. But, this also depends on how much pressure you apply down onto the roller.
I have heard of people utilizing their pool noodles for this type of activity. You can see some of the types of actions that can be performed on a roller here.
Stretching and Heat
Whilst this isn’t technical a “massage,” stretching can do wonders when it comes to releasing built up tension. It is also very helpful in reinforcing relaxation, post massage, as well as, helping you to de-stress.
Always ensure stretching is done within your limits (a slight stretch with no pain) and in a controlled way. NO bouncing!
After massaging, make sure to gently stretch the area and hold for at least 30 seconds (repeat at least 3 times). You can then apply some heat, such as a wheat bag, or hot towel compress, to the area. The other option for applying heat is to stand under the hot shower for a few minutes and let the running water give you a massage.
There are many reasons to believe that massage can assist in greatly improving your happiness too! For starters, reducing pain in your muscles and joints is bound to make you feel happier.
Applied regularly (even by yourself), you are helping to improve your circulation, both to the muscles and to the skin, which along with the application of oils, can help improve the appearance of the skin.
Finally, the feeling of touch and warmth help to release endorphins from the brain and many studies have shown that regular massage significantly improves mood and reduces stress and anxiety.
Have you applied self-massage? How has it helped and how did it make you feel? Please join the conversation.
Core and abs are two words that get thrown around more than reality show drama. They are, in fact, different. Here are three things to know:
- Exercising one does not necessarily engage the other.
- Nothing “automatically” strengthens your core (not even sitting on a fitness ball).
- People can be rotten to the core, and no exercise can fix that.
Let’s start with the first point.
Abs or Core, or Both
Much online clickbait (Get 6-Pack Abs Overnight!) focuses on abs because it’s the aesthetic part of the torso. It’s the part you present to the world when your shirt lifts up as you reach to stow your luggage in an overhead compartment.
The core, on the other hand, is a multi-faceted set of over 20 muscles that lies beneath the surface of the abs. The main core muscle, called the transverse abdominis (TA), wraps itself around your midsection like built-in Spanx.
The various muscles attach to your lower back (which is why a weak core contributes to back pain) and basically connect your ribcage to your upper body and your pelvis to your lower body.
Your core literally holds together your upper and lower body.
In other words, don’t leave home without it.
It not only protects your spinal column but stabilizes your entire body. It’s why it’s referred to as the “powerhouse” in Pilates. Everything relies on it.
Some pretty heavy stuff, no?
But unlike your abs, no one sees your core. People won’t come up to you and say, “Hey, your core is looking mighty fine.” (And if they do, call the police.)
Did you know your pelvic floor, the muscle you work when you do Kegels, is also part of your core? Yes, the action of contracting that muscle as if you’re trying to stop a urine flow is one of the primary core muscles exercises.
In fact, your pee-stopping muscle must be engaged to properly activate your core.
Automatic Fitness? Umm, No
This brings me to the fitness ball myth and other ways we think we automatically engage our core. “Oh, I’ll just sit on a fitness ball and work my core all day!”
No, you won’t.
Because here’s the thing: It takes a conscious awareness and purpose to kick in those core muscles. It’s not something that happens on its own.
Typically, you start out with all good intentions sitting up straight on the ball, using your core muscles to keep you upright.
So far so good.
After about 30 minutes this starts getting old, especially if you are doing work-related tasks or other activities that take your mind off of your oh-so-perfect posture.
As the day wears on your back gets tired. Before you know it, you’re rounding your spine and hunching over your desk like Quasimodo on his way to the bell tower.
This is nothing against fitness balls, which have tons of great uses. And it’s not totally a waste if you bought a fitness ball for this purpose. Just use it judiciously.
For example, if you like to use a ball as a chair, alternate it with a traditional, supportive chair every 20 minutes or so. And make sure you’re sitting on it with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight.
The Exercises That Do It
Finally, we get to the big question: What really works, then?
Your best approach is to use a mix of ab and core exercises to keep your midsection strong and ready for what life throws at it. In the end, it’s not so important to know which exercises work the specific muscles. Just include a variety and use this KEY tip below.
Before you begin any abdominal or core exercise, engage your core muscles. The easiest way is by imagining your little grandchild is about to tickle you. That pulling in of those muscles? That’s your core.
Hold that thought and then perform the exercise.
Here are a few of the best ab and core-activating exercises, and a link to a special free PDF that demonstrates these and more in a bonus I created just for Sixty and Me readers, below.
Planks are usually safe (always check with your doc, of course) even for those with back pain because they do not involve flexion – the action involved in curling up as in a crunch.
Another type of exercise that also works well is bird dogs. They are usually safe for everyone (kneel on something soft if you have achy knees like me) and involve balance, which we all need more of as we flip those calendar pages.
Doing the bicycle works your upper and lower abs as well as obliques. It was rated the best overall ab exercise by the American Council On Exercise (ACE).
Do these exercises three times a week and you’re off to a good start.
CLICK HERE to download your special BONUS, 5-Day Ab and Core Challenge.
Which core exercises do YOU like to do? Will you try a new one this week? Let’s chat!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.
Few trends have captured the imagination of soon-to-be retirees with as much force as downsizing. In fact, if you read most retirement blogs or books, downsizing feels like it is almost a prerequisite to moving into the next phase of your life. The truth, as I have found by managing a community of 500,000 recent retirees, is more complicated.
Why Has Downsizing Become Such a Hot Topic for Older Adults?
On the surface, the concept of downsizing makes a lot of sense. After all, by this stage in our lives, most of us have acquired more than enough “stuff.” With our kids (hopefully) building their own lives, our homes may feel a little empty and the boxes in our garages a little too full.
“Enough is enough,” we finally say to ourselves as we set out to simplify our lives. In my case, my downsizing journey ended with me sitting at the airport on my way to Switzerland with 8 suitcases holding all of my earthly possessions, but, that’s another story.
On the whole, downsizing is a positive process, but, after talking with hundreds of people in their 50s and 60s, I can’t help but think that it is only half of the story. In fact, if done recklessly, downsizing can actually hurt more than it helps.
In order to truly set ourselves up for success in our retirement years, we need to find the right balance between downsizing and upsizing in retirement. We need to rightsize.
The Downside to Downsizing
Downsizing is an emotional, challenging and surprisingly addictive process. It involves sorting through your material possessions, facing your best and worst memories and getting back to basics.
Unfortunately, because it is so difficult to let go of our past, most of us end up gritting our teeth and powering through the process. In doing so, we see simplification as an end goal and judge our success on how small a house we can move into, how empty our closets are and how many books we have donated.
The truth is that having fewer things won’t make you happy… unless you are able to use the mental and physical space that you create to support your passions and priorities.
This is why I believe that “rightsizing” is a better perspective to apply to the problem of organizing our lives in the years leading up to and during retirement.
How is Rightsizing Different Than Downsizing?
When you ask recent retirees whether they have downsized their lives in the last few years, a surprisingly high percentage (maybe 30-40%) say that they have actually upsized. Perhaps they have moved into bigger homes. Or maybe they have finally invested in a new boat, car or similarly expensive toy. In many cases, they look at the downsizing process as an unnecessary fad.
This, for me, is where the concept of rightsizing comes in. It is the golden mean between downsizing and upsizing.
Rightsizing is all about making your external world match your inner goals, ambitions and passions. It is about downsizing in some parts of your life so that you have the physical space, mental freedom and financial resources to upsize other aspects of your life.
One couple might decide to move to a smaller apartment so that they can afford to buy a small cabin in the mountains in which to spend the long summer days.
Another couple might decide that selling their cars and condo in the city would allow them to fund their dream of owning a micro-farm with chickens and pigs.
One person might decide to sell all of their non-essential possessions in order to create a fund for traveling across the U.S. by bus every year.
Another person might clear out the garage in order to set up a small painting studio that she was dreaming off since she was a young woman.
The point here is that downsizing for downsizing’s sake won’t make you happy. Making room for your passions will.
How to Start Your Rightsizing Journey – Questions to Ask Yourself
So, how can you avoid all of the downsizing pressure that retirement blogs push your way? How can you rightsize your life instead of downsizing or upsizing? Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to get started.
How do you spend your day when you are at home? Are there rooms that you never go into? Are there items (an old piano, a set of skis or boxes of dusty books that never get touched)?
What are your most valuable (in terms of money) physical assets? Do you plan on using them as you move into retirement? For example, could you walk or ride a bike instead of driving your car?
What do you love about your home? What do you wish was different?
What dreams have you had in the back of your mind for decades? Could downsizing your home, selling unwanted possessions or saving money by reducing monthly payments help you to make your dreams a reality?
Is the physical clutter in your home preventing you from using your space for your passions? Could your garage be cleaned and converted into a photography dark room? Is your attic the perfect place to start your soap making empire?
What do you wish you had more space to do, inside or outside? Is your current house too big, too small or just right for your future needs?
Could restructuring your home environment help you to make a little extra money? For example, instead of moving to a smaller home, would it make sense for you to refurbish one of your bedrooms or build a little granny flat in the garden to rent out on Airbnb?
These questions are obviously just a starting point. The main point here is that “downsizing” and “upsizing” are empty goals. They make the process the point… and, that’s not the point!
Instead, when it comes to our physical possessions, our goal should be to create an environment that supports our goals. This means minimizing our unnecessary costs so that we can invest in our passions. It means creating mental space so that we can focus on what makes us happy.
Do you plan on downsizing, upsizing or rightsizing before or during retirement? What are your goals for the decades ahead? Let’s have a conversation!
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