7 Daily Must-Dos for Retirees

Now that your working life is behind you, it's time to pay attention to the rest of your life. You've got extra time now, and you want to make the most of it. Whether you've dedicated yourself to living healthily all these years or put your health on the back burner, it's never too late to form good habits. A research team partially funded by the AARP studied older people on the small Greek island of Ikaria, a place where fully one-third of residents live to at least 90, and found that they share many healthful habits. Make it your business to do these seven things that Ikarians do every day, and you'll reap the rewards in the form of a happy, healthy old age:

1. Eat like the Mediterraneans. An emphasis on whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish is a recipe for long life. In Ikaria, people routinely drizzle olive oil over cooked foods, which helps retain nutrients that heat destroys.

2. Walk, don't drive. Ikarians are lucky enough to live on a mountainous island that provides plenty of opportunity for exercise, whether visiting a friend on the other side of the hill or stepping out for a bit of shopping.

3. Nap when you need it. Studies show that regular half-hour naps can reduce heart disease. Ikaria virtually shuts down during the sleepy post-lunch period.

4. Don't stress about time. Within reason, allow yourself to do things at a leisurely pace. Enjoy every moment. You've put in years in a deadline-oriented career; now take it slow.

5. Drink herbal teas. They lower blood pressure, which keeps you healthier. Wild mint and chamomile are two of the favorite beverages on Ikaria.

6. Stay social. Ikarians rely heavily on family and friends for support. Research has shown that staying connected lowers depression and keeps you living longer. Make it a point to reach out to at least one friend every day. Plan a walk together or take in a movie after dinner.

7. Grow a garden. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important, but it's best to consume them soon after they're picked for the highest proportion of disease-fighting compounds. Plant some leafy greens that you can tend and then enjoy as a salad.



AARP, www.aarp.org.