Although retirement is often associated with newfound freedoms and opportunities, a recent study has shown that many retirees actually experience a significant decrease in physical activity and an increase in sleep. While there may be various reasons for this shift, it’s important to be mindful of the potential health implications. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle during retirement, it’s important to find ways to stay active and engaged.
As we all know, there are only so many hours a day. So, when researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, began a study looking at behaviors in retirees, they found that increasing the time spent on one activity during the day inevitable lead to a decrease in at least one other.
Their study used sensitive accelerometers and Compositional Data Analysis to study the simultaneous changes in daily behaviors. Activity behaviors were divided into different sections: sleeping, sedentary time, light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
When looking at people who retired, their sleep and sedentary behavior increased in relation to their physical activity and sedentary time. This change was found to be stronger in women than in men.
“The decrease in the amount of physical activity is probably explained by the absence of activity related to work duties and commute to and from work when a person retires. These are replaced to some extent by sleep and, in the case manual workers, also sedentary time,” said primary author of the research article, Kristin Suorsa.
Previous research has shown that replacing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity with any other movement behavior may be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Based on this new study, researchers believe that retiring people should aim to increase their amount of physical activity, particularly moderate-to-vigorous activity. Long periods of sedentary time should also be avoided, and sitting should be divided into shorter periods, with walking breaks taken frequently.
Overall, it is vital to have a healthy balance of physical activity and good-quality sleep. In retirement, this ratio can get thrown off, so it is important to keep active and have a healthy sleep schedule.
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