A new Australian-led study has shown people become more active, sleep better and reduce the amount of time they spend sitting down after they retire.
The study, led by the University of Sydney and published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, followed the lifestyle behaviours of 25,000 older Australians.
It examined their 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 of the university’s School of Public Health.
“Compared with people who were still working, retirees had increased physical activity levels, reduced sitting time, were less likely to smoke, and had healthier sleep patterns,” Ding said.
“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 showed retirees:
- Increased physical activity by 93 minutes a week
- Decreased sedentary time by 67 minutes a day
- Increased sleep by 11 minutes per day
- 50 per cent of female smokers stopped smoking
Ding said the lifestyle changes were most pronounced in people who retired after working full time because they were not faced with a daily commute and they had more time to be physically active and to sleep more.
“Retirement is a good time for doctors to talk their patients about making positive lifestyle changes that could add years to their life,” she said.
“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.”