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Keep it moving for good health in the golden years

STILLWATER, Okla. – Just about everybody dreams of the day they can trade the daily grind for the sweet freedom of retirement. However, recent studies suggest we have a better chance of aging well if we stay active and engaged even after we breeze into our golden years.

And, it turns out, maintaining a schedule – just like in our working lives – can help. 

“It’s not the work, per se, but the structure and purpose that comes with having a job,” said Jan Johnston, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension gerontology specialist. 

To clarify, staying engaged does not mean watching television all day. Rather it is about staying socially, physically and mentally connected to the world around us. 

Work generally gives us a chance to do that on a regular basis, Johnston said, but, once we retire, there are plenty of ways to accomplish the same result outside of the workplace.

“After retiring, there are opportunities to volunteer, mentor and consult,” she said. “All of these types of activities help us maintain that all important connection to others and to the world.”

For retirees disinterested in re-entering the workforce or picking up part-time work, or for those who are unable to work due to a disability, volunteering may be the way to go. 

“For example, 4-H is built on the dedication of volunteers,” Johnston said. “Older adults can add so much to the lives of young people, and older adults benefit from being able to stay positively engaged in the world around them.”

While remaining engaged is an important ingredient in the recipe for aging well, following a healthy lifestyle plays a role, too.

“There is no escaping the need to balance a healthy diet with physical, mental and social activities in an effort to age well,” she said. “Studies show that worn out phrase – ‘use it or lose it’ – continues to be the basis of findings that encourage us to find and maintain that balance.”   


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.



Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
140 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078