Melbourne | People become more active, sleep better and are less likely to smoke after retirement compared to those who are still working, a new study has found. The study followed the lifestyle behaviours of 25,000 Australians including physical activity, diet, sedentary behaviour, alcohol use and sleep patterns. According to our research retirement was associated with positive lifestyle changes, said lead researcher Melody Ding, from the University of Sydney.
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, 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.
According to the study, 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. The researchers have also found that 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. T
here was no significant association found between retirement and alcohol use or fruit and vegetable consumption. Ding said retirement gave people more time to pursue healthier lifestyles. 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. In terms of sedentary time, the largest reduction in sitting time occurred in people who lived in urban areas and had higher educational levels, she said.
Ding hopes the research will encourage people to think positively about retirement. 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.
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