SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – When you retire, you don’t just leave a job — you start a whole new stage in your life.

There are some things that need special attention in order to stay healthy in this new stage. Here are some ways to live a long and happy life in retirement.

Find a New Purpose

• Research has shown that having a sense of purpose may help you live longer, and other studies have found that older adults who participate in activities they believe are meaningful often report they feel happier and healthier.

• e.g., Assembling gift packages for soldiers overseas, caring for animals at a local shelter, preparing meals for cancer patients, volunteering at the local hospital or library

• One study found adults who mentored schoolchildren reported feelings of personal satisfaction, and researchers noticed signs of improved mental and physical health.

• Consider going back to work, but in a scaled-down version of what you did (e.g., bookkeeping, home repair, etc.).

Stimulate Your Muscles and Your Mind

• Combine physical and mental exercise. The brain needs “exercise” as much as your muscles.

• Studies have shown physical exercise helps prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and may also improve immunity.

• Dance classes are a great exercise that combine exercise for the brain and body. Learning choreography stimulates the brain and is a great physical exercise that improves balance, muscular strength and endurance, and cardiovascular fitness.

• Slower-paced activities (e.g., gardening, home repair, painting) tap into your creative side and also count towards boosting muscle-brain health.

• Take a class you’re curious about (e.g., cooking or computers), pick up an old hobby or start a new one, do puzzles. Acting classes boost memory and problem-solving skills.

• Play a musical instrument (e.g., guitar, piano).

Practice Good Posture

• Reduce your risk of falling.

• Reduce your risk of muscular and skeletal injuries.

Get Out of the House

• After you retire, you naturally lose some of the social network you had at your job, so it’s important to dedicate more time to personal relationships in this stage of life.

• Social connectedness decreases your chances of dementia, significant cognitive decline, and even physical disability. An active social life can help you be happier and live longer.

• Play cards with friends. Attend sports events. Travel with a seniors group. Reconnect with friends from high school or college.

• If you have a hobby (e.g., reading, knitting, or gardening), join a club.

• Better yet, combine social connectedness with physical exercise, e.g., doubles tennis, golf, cycling or walking clubs.

Watch (Better) TV

• Watching TV can actually create new neural connections if you have to use significant mental effort to understand what you’re watching (e.g., an educational science program).

Stay on Top of Your Health

• Retiring from work doesn’t mean retiring from a full, healthy, and active life.

• Regular medical checkups are a must as well as your own self-monitoring (e.g., blood pressure, heart rates, and steps per day).

• Schedule doctor appointments, vaccinations, recommended screening exams, and take medications as prescribed. Make your health a priority.

Feed Your Body Well

• You can’t exercise your body and brain without feeding it well.

• Focus on foods from nature, not those processed into packaged foods.

• Include protein at every meal to prevent age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia). Bottom line… if your muscles waste away, you won’t be able to stay active, and staying active is the key to staying healthy and happy in retirement.