Does Working Promote Healthy Aging?
It’s often accepted as inevitable fact that our mental and physical skills will decline as we age. But that decline can be kept to a minimum, and it’s definitely possible to remain alert and active well into your senior years. Mental activity is an important component of healthy aging – for years, health professional have emphasized the importance of keeping your brain active as you age.
Working Can Be Good for Your Mental Health
One of the best ways to stay mentally active is to keep working. If you’re fortunate enough to have a job or career you enjoy, keep going as long as possible. Don’t accept the “common wisdom” that you should retire at a certain age. Two of the most often-cited components of healthy aging are continuing to learn and maintaining social connections. Work can accomplish both ends.
Reap the Benefits of Enjoyable Work
In these troubled times, many of us have to work longer hours and stay in the work force well past the time we were planning to settle into retirement. So it’s good news that working provides benefits beyond the paycheck you receive.
All Work Is Not Created Equal
Although working can contribute to healthy aging, it’s not a black and white issue. Studies have shown that being forced to take a job outside your field of expertise can contribute to unhealthy stress. The ideal situation is to remain in a job you already love. If you can’t do that, then try to find a job you enjoy, that doesn’t add additional stress.
Does “Work” Necessarily Mean Having a Job?
But there are many definitions of work. If you have the financial means to retire, “work” can mean volunteering at the local soup kitchen, tutoring, or delivering meals to shut-ins. And if we expand “work” to mean any activity that keeps you mentally active, work can mean pursuing a hobby you never had time for, taking classes, or traveling. Do the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen, play Scrabble, or take up video games and set a goal of beating the pants of your grandkids. Basically, anything that expands your horizons and stimulates you mentally will aid in your quest for healthy aging.
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