How to Find a Healthy Pace for Your Life in The Villages®

By Dr. Laura Cloukey, Medical Director, The Villages Health® Pinellas Care Center

The Villages® is a special place. The Villagers are special people. Activities abound with golf, pickleball, shuffleboard, swimming, yoga and archery to name just a few of the opportunities. These all get the blood flowing, which is a very good thing for your health. Who needs that dirty word “exercise” when all you must do to keep healthy is move your blood? One problem here in The Villages—and I, as a physician who proudly serves The Villages residents, can attest to this particular trouble—is called exhaustion and there is a common reason for it. We must find peace during the day to pace ourselves.

Pacing and knowing our limits

Villagers come from all over the country and they are eager to start their new lifestyle, get in shape, get outdoors, and make plans. As of 2015, The Villages had a population estimated to be around 114,350 people, and it is only increasing—at an extreme rate (Rocco, 2015). The Villagers make new friends from all these residents and have more opportunity for social outings than they could have ever imagined. Invitations are just a phone call or text away and it is difficult to say no. This is part of the problem.

If you are the type of person who has decided to become more active, then pace should be important to you. Pace is about the use of time and energy in a controlled fashion. Think of all the energy you wake up with in the morning like a box. Maybe on this day it was a small shoe-sized box and maybe tomorrow it will be a large box. But every day you wake you have only one box of energy to spend. First, spend time thinking about how much energy you THINK you have. Next, think of the activities and the schedule you would like to accomplish in the day. Lastly, think of how much time you have in the day to complete all that you have thought of. Is it reasonable? Does it feel like too much? Does it feel like not enough? Only you can decide, because only you know what you are capable of.

Think of the energy you wake up with like a box.

Planning a well-paced day

You do not have to feel guilty for going to breakfast with your friends, swinging by the store and then going home and resting before noon with a cup of tea or a good book. Have lunch, take a 30-minute power nap and then plan the afternoon’s activities. Maybe a round of golf or a bible study group or a two-mile walk. After that another rest may be in order before the evening activities. A study about older adults and napping showed that a 30-minute nap followed by moderate exercise resulted in a better sleep and less daytime drowsiness (Tanaka, 2001). Other versions of peace could include a meditation and yoga stretching session, or even just a rest on the lanai in the sun to get some vitamin D. These moments of rest in your day help your body and your mind perform the best it can for you.

Consider a "down day."

There could also be a day built into your week that you consider a “down day,” where you don’t have planned activities and just stay in your home. I once asked a patient to stay in her pajamas all day for a down day. She had come to me totally exhausted due to her commitments made to so many. It seemed to me that she regularly spent her entire box of energy well before noon. Therefore, I made a deal with her. She didn’t have to stay in her pajamas all day. I told her at noon she could change into a fresh pair of pajamas. Keeping her in her home, relaxed, was the goal. Being constantly tired is a stress on your body and on your mind. As you age, this kind of stress is unnecessary, and considering your pace is important in removing it.

Doctors’ orders: be mindful and plan your days accordingly, keeping pace in mind and peace in your heart. 

Last updated: 05.30.2017
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Written byDr. Laura Cloukey

Laura Cloukey, DO is Medical Director of The Villages Health® Pinellas Care Center in The Villages®, Florida. Hailing from her hometown of Waltham, Massachusetts, Dr. Cloukey attended the University of Massachusetts for her undergraduate studies and received her medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She did her internship and residency at Carney Hospital and Boston University. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Prior to coming to Florida, Dr. Cloukey was at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital system in Boston, which is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She relocated to The Villages to join The Villages Health to help build a novel and superior health care system that promises patient-centered care, while delivering informed, relevant care plans and better outcomes.

Coach Image

Written by Dr. Laura Cloukey

Laura Cloukey, DO is Medical Director of The Villages Health® Pinellas Care Center in The Villages®, Florida. Hailing from her hometown of Waltham, Massachusetts, Dr. Cloukey attended the University of Massachusetts for her undergraduate studies and received her medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She did her internship and residency at Carney Hospital and Boston University. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Prior to coming to Florida, Dr. Cloukey was at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital system in Boston, which is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She relocated to The Villages to join The Villages Health to help build a novel and superior health care system that promises patient-centered care, while delivering informed, relevant care plans and better outcomes.

The Villages, The Villages Health, America’s Healthiest Hometown, and their associated logos are trademarks of Holding Company of The Villages, Inc., and are used with permission.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.

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