Retirement Life
14 November 2022

Top ways to stay active in retirement

People often talk about three distinct stages of retirement. Stage one is the ‘doing’ years, stage two is about consolidation, and stage three is about asking for and accepting help. And when you line this up with your physical capability, it makes sense to keep looking after your body as you progress through these stages.


It’s never too late to start, no matter what stage you’re at. There are multiple options to choose from. Which direction you take will likely depend on your goals and aspirations. You might want to improve your health and get stronger, or you may just want to find a new hobby or find a way to increase the social side of your life.


I spoke with Lily Purdon, Community Groups Strength and Balance, Programme Lead at Sport Canterbury, who recognises that activities can be carried out at home or with others. “There are many ways to introduce exercise into your retirement, but it’s crucial to choose the exercise that is right for you,” says Lily.

When you find an exercise that works for you, a little bit can go a long way.

Lily promotes the nationwide Live Stronger For Longer programme, which is funded by ACC and covers over 200 exercise classes per week in Canterbury alone. “These classes range from yoga to dance to weights to tai chi,” says Lily. “With accredited classes that suit anyone, they deliver training at a range of intensities.”

Project your fortnightly, tax-paid, retirement income

In its seventh year of operating, the Live Stronger For Longer programme shows that staying active doesn’t have to be challenging, even if you’re spending most of your time at home. The basis of the ACC programme is to prevent falls and help people find accessible ways to increase their strength and balance.


According to ACC data, there are 1,115 community strength and balance classes being run across the country – and counting.


“We know that when people have good leg and core strength, they are likely to have good balance. And this helps reduce our risk of falling,” says Lily. Regular movement (defined as two hours a week over two sessions) can dramatically decrease someone’s chance of a fall, according to ACC research.


Lily completed a Bachelors in Physical Education and her Masters’ in Applied Science – Exercise and Health focused on falls prevention and the positive impact of exercise on our balance. “If we know that exercise can keep our bones strong, give us more energy, help us get better sleep and help control our blood pressure and weight, then it’s got to be a good thing,” says Lily. “The Live Stronger For Longer classes are a great way to meet other people within your community, as well as keeping active. It can be daunting finding classes on your own, but there is something for everyone, and they really do make a difference.”


Top 5 exercises for seniors in retirement

Lily suggests these exercises to improve strength and balance and hence movement confidence:

1. Sit to stand

Sitting on a chair, trying not to use your hands, raise yourself to standing. This is a great exercise for basic leg strength.

2. Heel-toe walking

From standing, extend your arms out to the side and pretend you’re walking on a tightrope by placing one foot directly in front of the other. After half a dozen steps going forwards, you can step backwards. This is great for balance and our peripheral vision.

3. Back row

Sit on the edge of a chair and lean as far forward as you can while still keeping your back flat. Then lift a small weight from the floor by bending your elbows and squeezing your back muscles.

Design your retirement income with Lifetime

Lifetime Income Projection

4. Bicep curl to overhead

Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand. Squeeze the bicep and curl the dumbbell to your shoulder. Then, if you feel comfortable, lift the dumbbell over your head by straightening your arm up high. Then slowly lower.

5. Bridge

Lying on your back with your arms at your side, bend your knees and pull your feet towards you so they’re directly under your knees. Slowly raise your hips as high as you can, then lower. This is great for improving glut muscles and back strength.

Lily advises that any exercise programme must start gradually and build up over time. “Always consult a doctor if you are starting or changing your exercise regime,” says Lily. “What you are capable of will depend on your abilities, medication and any pre-existing injuries, so it’s always important to get advice first.”


Take control of your retirement income

Whether you’re living with a long-term health condition or looking for new ways to stay active, there are many ways to move throughout each day that can work for you. Gentle stretches, standing without help and walking and standing often can make a world of difference. And remember, movement helps your thinking skills as well as your overall health and wellbeing.


For more information on exercise classes near you, visit


This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice.

Photo of Kathy Catton
Written by:

Kathy Catton

Kathy Catton is a freelance writer and editor, based on the Banks Peninsula. She is an experienced feature writer, magazine editor and copywriter. Quick to grasp the crux of any story and tell it in plain English, Kathy enjoys bringing stories to readers that surprise and delight.

Invest with Lifetime for a retirement income managed for living.

Enjoy more retirement news with Lifetime