According to a new report from the University of East Anglia, middle-aged people need to focus on being physically active in order to stay healthy into retirement years. It is widely known that keeping fit has many physical, mental, and social benefits.
Researchers for this study worked in collaboration with Active Norfolk and found that those over 55, in particular, need to be doing more as they approach retirement age. But many people report not staying as physically active as they should due to health problems, not having enough time or energy, and lack of motivation. But this is leaving them in poor shape come retirement.
Lead researcher Dr. Charlotte Salter, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “In England, participation in physical activity tends to decrease around the age of 55.
“Frailty and pre-frailty – the decline in health, resilience, and mobility often associated with ageing – are conditions previously expected to be found in people at retirement age and over. But now these conditions affect a third of British adults aged 50-65.
“Adults are spending more years of their life working than ever before. Retiring is a life-changing event which provides all sorts of opportunities – but it coincides with declining physical activity, health and wellbeing.
“From the age of around 55, people begin thinking about retirement and making plans for their future.”
Influence of Fitness on Aging
This is why studies such as this are so important to outline the influence that fitness has on aging. More than 1,000 participants took part in the study, which was an online ‘Physical Activity and Retirement Transitions’ survey about their physical activity levels, and expectations and experiences of retirement. Participants were also asked to attend focus groups and interviews at retirement age about staying physically active.
” to enjoy a fit and healthy retirement, a really key thing is that people need to maintain their physical fitness through their fifties and beyond,” Dr. Salter concluded.
“Supporting older adults to lead active lifestyles ahead of and at retirement could ensure people are more mobile, capable and healthier once retired.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach. But we found that activity that is combined with socializing, or other purposeful actions such as dog walking, gardening, housework, childcare or volunteering, were all good ways for over-55s to remain active.
“With an aging population there is also an ageing workforce who need support to age, work and retire actively,” she added
The report from the study helps to outline how employers and healthcare providers could do more to promote physical fitness to people 55-years and older. Some recommendations have been made for employers to include a health and well-being policy that promotes physical activity, providing opportunities to be active at work by starting walking groups, or initiatives to bicycle to work.
No matter what employers implement to help employees maintain a fitness level while aging, it is up to the individual to educate themselves on the importance of staying physically active into retirement years. As there starts to be a cultural shift in encouraging activity in later life, don’t wait for someone else to put these practices into effect. Start each day with light exercise and you will start to notice the effect it will have on your physical and mental wellbeing both now and in the years to come.