Keystone Financial Blog

Healthy Old
A Healthy Retirement

When it comes to your retirement years, it’s important to understand the distinction between ‘life expectancy’ and ‘healthy life expectancy’.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare*:

  1. In terms of life expectancyfor Australians aged 65, on average:
    A) males can expect to live 19.6 years more,
    B) females can expect to live 22.3 years more.
  2. In terms of healthy life expectancyfor Australians aged 65, on average:
  3. A) males can expect to live 9.2 years without disability and another 10.4 years with some form of disability, including 3.4 years with severe or profound core activity limitation,
  4. B) females can expect to live 10.0 years without disability and another 12.3 years with some form of disability, including 5.6 years with severe or profound core activity limitation.

Please Note:

  • The leading cause of death for Australians aged 65 and over is coronary heart disease (resulting in, for example, a heart attack), followed by dementia and Alzheimer disease, cerebrovascular disease (resulting in, for example, a stroke), chronic pulmonary disease (such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or chronic asthma) and lung cancer.
  • There are many different kinds of disability, usually resulting from accidents, illness or genetic disorders; a person can have a disability if they have a limitation, restriction or impairment that has lasted or is likely to last for at least 6 months and that restricts everyday activities.
    • Core activities are self-care, mobility and communication; a profound core activity limitation refers to a person always needing help from another to perform a core activity.

With this in mind, there will come a time in your retirement years where your mental and/or physical health will start to decline for one reason or another. Importantly, when this does occur, there will be implications on a variety of areas, such as your timeworkfinances, as well as housing and care needs.

Australian Physical Activity and Dietary Guidelines

Whilst the above can be daunting to consider, it’s important to understand that there are things that you can do to improve your chances of leading a happy and healthy retirement for as long as possible.

For example, for Australians aged 65 and over, participating in regular physical activity and limiting the amount of time being sedentary^, as well as following the dietary patterns recommended for the five food groups (and discretionary choices)# can have significant health benefits, such as:

  • maintaining energy levels,
  • decreasing the risk of mortality,
  • improving mood and memory function,
  • preventing or managing mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and stress,
  • preventing or improving health risk factors and chronic diseases, such as hypertension, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, obesity and some cancers.

Physical activity (and sedentary behaviour) guidelines

In terms of participating in regular physical activity and limiting the amount of time being sedentary (or screen-based activity), below is an overview of the most recent Australian physical activity (and sedentary behaviour) guidelines. Please note: As a way of comparison, we have also included other age groups.

 Summary: Australian Physical Activity (and Sedentary Behaviour) Guidelines

 

Age 2–5*

Age 5–12^

Age 13–17

Age 18–64

Age 65+

Physical activity

At least

180 mins

per day

At least

60 mins

per day

At least

60 mins

per day

At least

150 mins

over 5 sessions

per week

At least

30 mins

per day

Sedentary or screen-based activity

Should not be

restrained for

more than

60 mins at

a time#

 

No more than

60 mins of

sedentary screen

time per day

No more than

120 mins of

screen use

 

Break up long

periods of

sitting

No more than

120 mins of

screen use

 

Break up long

periods of

sitting

Minimise

and break up

prolonged

periods of

sitting

Be as active

as possible

Strength-based activity

N/A

Muscle

strengthening

activities

3 times a week

Muscle

strengthening

activities

3 times a week

Muscle

strengthening

activities

2 times a week

Incorporate

muscle

strengthening

activities

*This group includes those aged 5 who are not yet in full-time schooling, for example, pre-schoolers.
^This group includes those aged 5 who are in full-time schooling.
#Examples include being restrained in a stroller, car seat or high chair.

Please Note: For Australians aged 65 and over,

  • physical activity can include sporting and leisure activities (recreational walking, swimming, tennis, going to the gym) or incidental activities (at work, for transport, household chores);
  • sedentary or screen-based activity can include prolonged sitting or lying down during the day (excluding time spent sleeping), where low levels of energy are expended;
  • strength-based activity can include yoga or pilates, resistance-band training, gardening that requires digging/lifting, climbing stairs or hills, squats, push-ups, sit-ups and weight training.

Dietary Guidelines

In terms of following the dietary patterns recommended for the five food groups (and discretionary choices), below is an overview of the most recent Australian dietary guidelines. Please note: As a way of comparison, we have also included other age groups.

 Summary: Australian Dietary Guidelines (Five Food Groups) 

(M = Men, W = Women, PW = Pregnant women, BW = Breastfeeding women, B = Boys, G = Girls) 

 

Min. Recommended Serves per Day

Age 2-3

Age 4-8

Age 9-11

Age 12-13

Age 14-18

Age 19–50

Age 51–70

Age 70+

Vegetable and legumes/beans group

Standard serve = 75g (100-350kJ)

2.5 (B)

2.5 (G)

4.5 (B)

4.5 (G)

5 (B)

5 (G)

5.5 (B)

5 (G)

5.5 (B)

5 (G)

6 (M)

5 (W)

5 (PW)

7.5 (BW)

5.5 (M)

5 (W)

5 (M)

5 (W)

Fruit group

Standard serve = 150g (350kJ)

1 (B)

1 (G)

1.5 (B)

1.5 (G)

2 (B)

2 (G)

2 (B)

2 (G)

2 (B)

2 (G)

2 (M)

2 (W)

2 (PW)

2 (BW)

2 (M)

2 (W)

2 (M)

2 (W)

Grains (cereal) group*

Standard serve = 500kJ

4 (B)

4 (G)

4 (B)

4 (G)

5 (B)

4 (G)

6 (B)

5 (G)

7 (B)

7 (G)

6 (M)

6 (W)

8.5 (PW)

9 (BW)

6 (M)

4 (W)

4.5 (M)

3 (W)

Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans group

Standard serve = 500-600kJ

1 (B)

1 (G)

1.5 (B)

1.5 (G)

2.5 (B)

2.5 (G)

2.5 (B)

2.5 (G)

2.5 (B)

2.5 (G)

3 (M)

2.5 (W)

3.5 (PW)

2.5 (BW)

2.5 (M)

2 (W)

2.5 (M)

2 (W)

Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or

Alternatives group^

Standard serve = 500-600kJ

1.5 (B)

1.5 (G)

2 (B)

1.5 (G)

2.5 (B)

3 (G)

3.5 (B)

3.5 (G)

3.5 (B)

3.5 (G)

2.5 (M)

2.5 (W)

2.5 (PW)

2.5 (BW)

2.5 (M)

4 (W)

3.5 (M)

4 (W)

*Mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties e.g. breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley.
^Mostly reduced fat.

In addition to the above dietary guidelines for the five food groups, other recommendations include:

  • drinking plenty of water,
  • limiting the intake of foods containing saturated fat,
  • limiting the intake of foods and drinks containing added salt,
  • limiting the intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars.

Also, in terms of alcohol, it’s recommended that healthy men and women drink no more than two standard drinks on any one day, and no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion

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Moving Forward

Inevitably, there will come a time in your retirement years where your mental and/or physical health will start to decline for one reason or another, which will have implications on a variety of areas, such as your time, work, finances, as well as housing and care needs.

However, participating in regular physical activity and limiting the amount of time being sedentary, as well as following the dietary patterns recommended for the five food groups (and discretionary choices), can improve your chances of leading a happy and healthy retirement for as long as possible.

Please note: Before embarking on the physical activity and dietary guidelines listed above, it’s important to seek professional advice. This may include, for example, your general practitioner and/or specialists, as well as your allied health professionals (physiotherapist, exercise physiologist and dietitian).

*Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Older Australia at a glance.
^Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Physical activity across the life stages.
#Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council. (2013). Australian dietary guidelines.

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