Retirement is good for your health!
Add retirement to the list of practices that’s good for your health, and thank researchers at the University of Sydney for the tip
A landmark study conducted there has found that people become more active, sleep better and reduce their sitting time when they retire
Published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, the study followed the lifestyle behaviours of 25,000 older Australians including physical activity, diet, sedentary behaviour, alcohol use and sleep patterns
“Our research revealed that retirement was associated with positive lifestyle changes,” said lead researcher Dr Melody Ding, Senior Research Fellow at the University’s School of Public Health.
“Compared with people who were still working, retirees had increased physically activity levels, reduced sitting time, were less likely to smoke, and had healthier sleep patterns
“A major life change like retirement creates a great window of opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes – it’s a chance to get rid of bad routines and engineer new, healthier behaviours.” she said
The data revealed that retirees:
· Increased physical activity by 93 minutes a week
· Decreased sedentary time by 67 minutes per day
· Increased sleep by 11 minutes per day
· 50 per cent of female smokers stopped smoking
The differences were significant even after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, urban/rural residence, marital status and education. There was no significant association found between retirement and alcohol use or fruit and vegetable consumption
Dr Ding said retirement gave people more time to pursue healthier lifestyles
“The lifestyle changes were most pronounced in people who retire after working full-time. When people are working and commuting, it eats a lot of time out of their day. When they retire, they have time to be physically active and sleep more,” she said
“In terms of sedentary time, the largest reduction in sitting time occurred in people who lived in urban areas and had higher educational levels
Dr Ding hopes the research will encourage people to think positively about retirement
“Retirement is a good time for doctors to talk their patients about making positive lifestyle changes that could add years to their life.
“The findings suggest that both health professionals and policy makers should consider developing special programs for retirees to capitalise on the health transitions through retirement,” she said