Canadian couple demonstrates the benefits of active living during retirement

Until scientists discover the fountain of youth, there’s one secret to staying young that every senior can take advantage of: leading an active lifestyle. Mounting research shows that older adults who regularly participate in activities that keep their bodies and minds sharp enjoy greater well-being and satisfaction with their lives than those who are sedentary.

CBC News recently profiled the inspiring story* of 89-year-olds Ted and Mel Turner of Saskatchewan. The Turners are considered “super seniors,” a term for those who reach 85 without any significant health issues, the news source explains. According to the couple, ample physical activity, a vibrant social life and a healthy diet are the secrets to their super-powered lives.

An active lifestyle during retirement has a number of health benefits.

The benefits of physical fitness
Physical activity can have a dramatic impact on seniors’ health. After studying participants in the National Senior Games held in the U.S., Dr. Pamela Peeke of the University of Maryland determined that highly active senior athletes can have a fitness age up to 25 years younger* than their actual age, CBC News reported. However, you don’t have to be a super athlete that runs 20 miles a day or swims 100 laps each morning to reap the benefits of an active lifestyle. Just mild physical activity can knock years off your fitness age.

“You don’t have do anything more than just get up and walk,” says Peeke. “Assume the vertical and don’t stop moving.”

Ted tells CBC that he plays golf regularly and that he and his wife complete a crossword puzzle each morning to keep their minds sharp. Being open to alternating your favourite meals for some healthier options is also key to a healthy, active lifestyle.

“[Mel] dragged me into some places I didn’t want to go,” says Ted. “Generous salads when I would have preferred meat, lean meat when I would have preferred fat.”

Volunteering supports a healthy lifestyle
Ted’s wife Mel also credits volunteering for helping her stay active and energized. The Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences recently found that volunteering is linked to increased longevity*, lower levels of depression and hypertension, greater mobility and other health benefits. Volunteering may also help improve psychological well-being among older adults by reinforcing feelings of being appreciated as a volunteer and contributing to a good cause.

“Taken together, these results suggest that volunteering is associated with health improvements and increased physical activity changes that one would expect to offer protection against a variety of health conditions,” says lead author of the study Dr. Nicole Anderson.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offer a variety of engaging programs and supportive services in their retirement homes to support an active lifestyle for seniors, including exercise classes, social events and outings, and volunteer opportunities. Visit website to learn more about some of their lifestyle programming.

*The following sources provide references for this blog, in order of appearance:

  1. CBC. "Sask. 'super seniors' share secret to their success"(2016), Online:
  2. CBC. "Older athletes' age in fitness terms 'astounding,' doctor says"(2015), Online:" target="notSet
  3. Baycrest. "Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier healthier", Online: