Fitness guru Jane Fonda joins active retirement trend

The image of retirement has changed dramatically in recent years. With the state pension age creeping up and financial uncertainty on the increase, more and more individuals are facing the prospect of working well beyond their official age of retirement. But it's not just the age of retirees that has changed – these days, a growing number are demanding 'active retirement.'

Prudential's recent Class of 2013 research found that 21% of those surveyed said that they don't like the idea of being at home all the time in retirement, and it's no coincidence that Jane Fonda, herself now in her 70s, has just released a new yoga DVD aimed specifically at those over 50.

The Prudential report also found that 52% of respondents plan to stay physically fit in retirement, 29% plan to improve their mental fitness and 33% plan to spend more time socialising. Research conducted for HSBC's latest Future of Retirement – Why Family Matters report (2011) found the same thing, with around half of all global respondents viewing retirement as a time of happiness, satisfaction and freedom. This freedom is about wanting to keep active, socialise and make the most of their golden years.

Le Village-Canal du Midi in the beautiful Languedoc-Roussillon area of southern France epitomises the new style of active retirement that has become so increasingly in demand. It is run by The Villages Group, which specialises in providing active living communities for those aged 50+. The resort offers luxurious, one-level houses set in the idyllic French countryside.

The emphasis is on active living and the wide range of activities on offer includes tennis, archery, aerobics, equestrian events, sailing, boating and swimming in the village's outdoor and indoor pools. Owners enjoy special membership to the stunning nearby golf course and free bicycle hire. The development even boasts access to four ski resorts, all within a 55 mile radius.

Social engagements abound, with a focus on arts and crafts, music, dance, wine and theatre. Danny Silver, expert in French real estate and MD of The Villages Group, explains the community's ethos,

"The over 50's no longer just want to sit around drinking tea and eating biscuits. Our clients are demanding more from their retirement and are looking to keep fit both physically and mentally. They want to enjoy quality activities and entertainment in a beautiful, sun-drenched setting, so that is exactly what we are providing at Le Village-Canal du Midi.

"As our clients are also concerned about environmental factors, all of the houses have been designed to have low carbon footprints, with glazing positioned to maximise solar gain and high levels of insulation and energy retention. This has the added benefit to our owners of reducing their living costs compared with traditionally built houses."

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