Horrible Health Mistakes You Should Never Make in Retirement

Whether you retire at 50 or 70, it’s a big adjustment. Being thrown into such an unusual state of living — no job, no need to look for a job, way more free time than you probably ever knew you wanted — can be good for you. It can also change your health and lifestyle — but not always in a good way.

How can you stay happy — and healthy — in retirement? The first step is to avoid making the most common mistakes.

What happens when we stop working?

A couple holding hands outdoors.

Transitioning into retirement can be an extremely unique experience. | Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

Preparing to retire and actually entering retirement are two very different things. Before you know it, everything has changed. You no longer have a routine that requires you to get up, go out, and experience life. This can have a serious impact on your health — if you aren’t prepared, that is. Don’t make these destructive mistakes as a new or long-time retiree.

Next: Don’t have any pets? You might want to change that.

Dismissing the possibility of a pet

Two dogs sitting in a field.

A pet can be amazing company. | CaptureLight/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Owning a pet comes with a host of physical and mental health benefits. A furry, feathered, or scaly companion can boost your immune system, put you in a better mood, and can even encourage you to exercise more. Don’t know the animal that’s right for you? Parrots, certain dog breeds, and cats are all great pets for retirees.

Next: Beware of the end of the “honeymoon phase” of retirement.

Not keeping a schedule

A woman with a black suit smiling at the camera.

You might not need to head into work, but you can still visit friends, run daily errands, and check out your town’s events. | Nandofotos/iStock/Getty Images

There comes a point in retirement when you leave the “honeymoon phase” and all of a sudden don’t know what to do with yourself, says Investopedia. If you don’t put a set routine in place for your day-to-day activities, you’re much more likely to spend too much time sitting, drinking, eating poorly, and avoiding social interaction. Create a schedule to keep you content — and stick with it!

Next: Have you exercised lately? You really should get on that.

Not sticking to your workout routine — or not starting one

Mature couple having a glass of wine at campsite.

You finally have time for those outdoor walks and picnics. | Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Regardless of your age, staying or becoming physically active is essential for maintaining your mental and physical health. Now that you have more time on your hands, you have one less excuse! You don’t have to go to a gym to exercise if you don’t want to. These 10-minute exercises can help you burn calories quickly — and they aren’t too complicated, so you can learn them in no time.

Next: Are you bored with your fitness routine?

Not having fun with fitness

An athletic woman stretches while listening to music.

This is the perfect time to try out new activities. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

Fitness is important — but it’s hard when you’re not enjoying it. Joining a fitness class is just one way to make fitness more enjoyable. Also make sure you’re doing physical activities that you actually look forward to, instead of doing them just because you feel like you have to. These exercises might help you break up your otherwise boring fitness routine and make working out feel less like a chore.

Next: Be careful what you drink.

Drinking alcohol to pass the time

Bartender pouring strong alcoholic drink into glasses.

Now is not the time to drink your problems away. | Bogdanhoda/Getty images

When you’re first transitioning from a full-time work schedule to retirement life, it can seem like you have a lot of time on your hands. When you don’t know what to do with it — if free time makes you anxious — you’re more prone to binge-drinking. Drinking too much alcohol has a long list of negative side effects, all of which can cause a sharp decline in your overall health.

Next: Don’t isolate yourself from others, even accidentally.

Losing touch with family and friends

A cane being held by elderly hands.

Your friends and family will want you to be active in their lives. | Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Retirement separates you from your co-workers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still make plans to spend time with family and friends. Spending too much time alone hurts your mental and physical health. Socialization is extremely important for older adults and their health, says Seniorly. Something as small as joining a book club or having a weekly get-together with a close friend can make a big difference.

Next: It’s not too late to choose health over bad habits.

Continuing other bad lifestyle choices

Woman smoker holding a cigarette.

Quitting this habit will vastly improve your health. | Terroa/iStock/Getty Images

Retirement is a great time to get a handle on those bad habits you have yet to shake. It’s not too late to start making healthier choices! Quit smoking, minimize your alcohol intake, get moving, and learn to control your junk food cravings. The healthier you are, the greater your chances of having a long, happy, and safe retirement.

Next: Don’t be afraid to learn a new skill that’s also great for your health.

Refusing to learn to cook new foods

Chef prepares hotpot in the stew pan.

Dust off those cookbooks or surf the web for recipes. | RazoomGames/iStock/Getty Images

It might be tempting to eat whatever you want at all your favorite restaurants — especially if you’re spending your retirement doing as much traveling as you can. However, learning to cook new foods can significantly improve your health — and you can do it from your home. It’s important to discover new activities and learn new skills after you retire — why not try something that can make you healthier, too?

Next: How important is weight loss as you age — really?

Trying to stay thin

Tensed mature woman sitting in bed.

You don’t have to fight your body to stay thin. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Staying fit during retirement is extremely important if you want to stay healthy. However, don’t take diet and weight loss too far. Today’s Dietitian warns that weight loss in older adults can accelerate muscle loss — which can also decrease bone density and increase osteoporosis risk. If you’re at a healthy weight, focus on building muscle and maintaining a healthy heart rate, blood pressure, and more.

Next: Your body knows when you’re not taking good care of it.

Not listening to your body

Business woman with smart phone.

Stay active, but be sure to listen to your body when it needs rest. | Ajr_images/iStock/Getty Images

We’d all be a lot healthier if we listened to our body’s warning signals. Your body often sends subtle, easy-to-miss warning signs that something might be wrong. If you’re trying to do too much — or you aren’t doing enough — you’ll start feeling it. Just because you might slow down a little in retirement doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun and take good care of yourself.

Next: Your everyday habits might be making you look — and feel — older.

Keeping habits that age you

Mature Woman putting cream on her face.

Worrying about wrinkles and aging is never fun. | IvonneW/iStock/Getty Images

Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to look or feel older! Avoid engaging in bad habits — like not using sunscreen, wearing too much makeup, and eating too much sugar. Now more than ever, it’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly.

Next: Do you know what your health insurance plan does and doesn’t cover?

Neglecting to evaluate your health insurance plan

Happy middle aged man and woman against a wall.

Keep on top of your insurance and medical plans. | Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

Anything can happen. You don’t want to be caught in an unexpected health crisis without the right health coverage. There are plenty of resources for retirees who need to evaluate their coverage, just in case. You can follow this guide to make sure your health insurance is sufficient for everything you might need.

Next: Planning ahead isn’t fun, but you won’t regret it.

Getting discouraged when your health declines

A group of people enjoying a meal together.

You might not be 20 anymore, but your presence and health are still valued. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

According to Retirement HQ, planning for a health crisis isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to prepare for the worst, even though things like end-of-life care and related decisions aren’t always what you want to discuss with loved ones. Don’t let any gradual or sudden declines in your health force you to stop living. Aging is different for everyone — do your best to make the most of it, even as you accept the realities that come with getting older.

Next: Your financial stress and long-term health are linked.

Your finances and your health

Beautiful mature woman sitting alone on the beach

Your retirement really can be enjoyable and stress-free. | OcusFocus/iStock/Getty Images

Financial stress can destroy your health, says Everyday Health. Thankfully, you might not need to save as much as you thought before you retire. So if you’re still in the planning stages of retirement, you can set yourself up for a healthy life as early as possible. If you’ve already retired, look into programs you might qualify for to help pay for housing and other essentials.

Read More: The 13 Biggest Regrets People Have About Retirement