You have diligently saved and put money into your 401K or IRA planning for that magical day when you can retire. And now it looks as if the bottom has unraveled from your dreams. The market has gone bust and so has your vision of a happy retirement in the near future. You will have to tighten your belt to save even more so that you will be able to enjoy your retirement one day. Or will you?

Chances are you have ignored the one thing that can really ensure whether you have a happy retirement or not. I am talking about your health. How much have you invested to ensure that you stay healthy and strong? Do you invest in yourself? If you don’t have your health what do you really have? You can have millions in the bank but if you are struggling with diabetes, heart disease, and chronic illness what good is it?

Let’s say that you didn’t lose any money in the stock market and you are sailing into retirement with a nice nest egg to sit on. Where will you be spending that nest egg? The average cost of a supplemental policy to Medicare will cost about $ 2400 to $5000 annually. But that won’t cover the medicines that you will have to take daily. Today the average retiree will spend 24% of his income on health care. That figure is expected to increase to 35% in the next 20 years.

If you really want to have an enjoyable retirement then you must plan. Just like you plan for your financial future, plan for your retirement by taking really good care of the most valuable asset you have. Keep more of your retirement savings in your pocket and not the doctor’s. Diabetes II can pretty much be avoided if you eat healthy, exercise regularly and learn stress management techniques. Taking care of your health now may also help you to avoid heart disease, debilitating arthritis and a host of other ailments.

1. Exercise

Yes I know you have heard it before but I am telling you again. Your body was designed to move. You must exercise and stretch every day. Make it a part of who you are. Walk, ride a bike, play tennis or go to the gym. It really doesn’t matter as long as you keep your body moving.

Exercise may help slow the aging process by preventing or reducing the chances of disease and disability in seniors. If you find yourself resisting exercise just imagine yourself unable to get up and move around when you want to. See yourself becoming totally dependant on your children. This visual will have you lacing up those walking shoes in no time at all!

Don’t forget to stretch. As we age we lose the connective tissue that covers our muscles. Stretching regularly will keep your muscles and tissue limber and relaxed. This will ensure that you are able to move with ease even at an advanced age.

2. Getting a handle on your stress

Research now shows that stress speeds the aging process by harming DNA. Have you noticed the aging that takes place in our presidents in a few short years? You may have even noticed it in a friend or loved one who has gone through a rough time in their life. The report, published in the National Academy of Sciences found that the telomeres in the cells of women under stress had undergone the equivalent of 10 years of additional aging, compared to women living more normal lives.

So what to do? Having a monthly massage will help you to reduce the stress accumulated in your body, a small price to pay for graceful aging. Make sure that you go to the same therapist each month. That way they will get to know your body and together you will make progress to deal with the stress in your life. A good massage therapist will notice your breathing and can give you tips on how to breathe properly and also how to stretch your body.

Working with a Life Coach specializing in Stress Management or Relaxation training will help you to learn the necessary tools to overcome stress in your life. Learn breathing techniques and become aware of your breath to notice when you may be holding your breath. There are hundreds of stress relief techniques that can help you reduce stress and enjoy all of your life. You can find books, audio programs and DVD’s at your local book store or library. The key is to take time to invest in your future by taking time to learn what you don’t know.

3. Eat a healthy diet

Most clients I talk to think they are eating pretty healthy. They may be confused about what is healthy and what is not. A simple way to ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need is to simply follow the parameters of the store and avoid the aisles. Along the parameters you will find fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, cheeses, meats and fish.

Make sure that your diet includes a variety or different colors of food. Each unique color offers different vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. Following the parameters makes shopping easy. You don’t have to read the ingredients on an apple do you? Choose organic foods when at all possible. This will reduce the amount of toxins from pesticides that you body will have to fight off and will help your body to stay balanced and healthy.
Add supplements to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need to stay healthy and fit. Go to the health food store and read up to find out which vitamins and other supplements you may need.

Take care of your #1 asset and sail into retirement ready to have fun!

Author's Bio: 

Kathryn Watson is a Life and Relaxation Coach. She specializes in stress management and relaxation training. Visit Kathryn at