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By Allianz Worldwide Care | March 29, 2016
The study, published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, followed the lifestyle behaviours of 25,000 older Australians. Researchers studied levels of physical activity, diet, sedentary behaviour, alcohol use and sleep patterns and found that people become more active, sleep better and reduce their sitting time when they retire.
"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 physical 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 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 said.
The data revealed that retirees:
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.
Researchers believe the study represents good news for older workers delaying retirement for fear of becoming inactive, with retirement giving people more time to pursue healthier lifestyles.