A new study has shown that retirement can help promote healthier lives in older adults. The findings that came from an Australian study reveal that when older adults retire, they tend to increase their physical activity.
Lead researcher Dr. Melody Ding said, “Our study paints a positive picture of retirement. Retirees [in the study] were acquiring a healthier lifestyle. Factors that may have contributed to this include availability of time to be physically active, and removal from sedentary jobs and work-related stress.”
“Retirement and the health benefits of retirement could be very context-specific. Life expectancy in Australia – 82.1 years – is a few years longer than that in the United States – 78.7, and there are also different social welfare and health care systems,” Ding said. “All of these factors may limit the ‘generalizability’ of our findings to the U.S.”
The study looked at nearly 25,000 Australians. After three years of follow-up, 3,100 of them retired.
After retirement, the participants reported an increase in physical activity by up to additional 30 minutes a week. Retirees also cut down on their sedentary time and added on average an extra 11 minutes of sleep to their nightly routine. Plus, nearly half of the female smokers who retired quit, but no link was found between retirement status and alcohol consumption or fruit and vegetable intake.
Ding added, “I think it is important to plan for retired life with a positive mindset. Some people get anxious about retirement because they may lose a sense of purpose.” Ding recommended retirees pick up hobbies, volunteer their time, and find ways to maintain a sense of purpose.
Other ways retirees can keep active are walking a dog, going for a stroll around a mall during colder or hotter weather, exercising on the treadmill while watching their favorite show, parking the car further away from store entrance, taking the stairs, dancing, and swapping out desserts for walks.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Plan Your Retirement with Your Spouse.