Washington D.C: Turns out, retirement doesn't make your life unhealthy as a new study has found that people become more active, sleep better and reduce their sitting time when they retire.
The University of Sydney study followed the lifestyle behaviours of 25,000 older Australians, including physical activity, diet, sedentary behaviour, alcohol use and sleep patterns.
Lead researcher Dr. Melody Ding said that the research revealed that retirement was associated with positive lifestyle changes, adding, "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."
She noted that 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.
The data revealed that retirees increased physical activity by 93 minutes a week, decreased sedentary time by 67 minutes per day and increased sleep by 11 minutes per day as well as 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, "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. In terms of sedentary time, the largest reduction in sitting time occurred in people who lived in urban areas and had higher educational levels."
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, Dr. Ding concluded.
The study is published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine.