People are more active, sleep better and sit less after they retire, according to a new Australian-led study.
The study, led by 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.
Lead researcher Dr Melody Ding, senior research fellow at the university’s School of Public Health, says the research shows retirement is associated with positive lifestyle changes.
"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," Dr Ding says.
"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 shows 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
Retirement, Dr Ding says, gives people more time to pursue 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 says.
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