Individuals who retire become more physically active, reduce their sitting time, are less likely to smoke and have healthier sleep patterns when compared with people who are still working, finds a new research.
“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,” said lead researcher Melody Ding, senior research fellow at the University of Sydney in Australia.
The results of the study showed that the amount of physical activity in retirees increased by 93 minutes a week. Their sedentary time decreased by 67 minutes per day and sleep time increased by 11 minutes per day. Further, 50 per cent of female smokers stopped smoking after their retirement. 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 differences were significant even after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, urban/rural residence, marital status and education, the researchers maintained.
“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,” Ding added.
The authors hoped that the research would translate to better health in the elderly, preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Both health professionals and policy makers need to consider developing special programmes for retirees to capitalise on the health transitions through retirement.
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.