People use their leisure time to get healthy, sleep more and have less work-related stress

  • Contradicts common belief that retirement is first stage in declining health
  • Research showed retirees exercised more and were less likely to smoke
  • Those giving up physically-demanding jobs benefitted most in retirement

Retired people use their leisure time to become healthier by sleeping and exercising more and ridding themselves of work-related stress, according to new research.

The study contradicts common belief that giving up work is the first stage in a person’s declining health.

After analysing data on German retirees from 1994 to 2014, economist Peter Eibich came to the conclusion, with those giving up physically demanding jobs benefitting the most from retirement.

According to his research, reported in the Guardian, retired people are more likely to rate their physical and mental health as satisfactory or better than working people.

They also visit the doctor less, by about one visit per three months, gain an extra 40 minutes sleep a night and are far more likely to take frequent exercise.

The study was presented at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Mannheim, Germany.

It concluded that retirees pursue a more active lifestyle and spend more time indulging in their hobbies.

The study concluded that retirees pursue a more active lifestyle and spend more time indulging in their hobbies

Retirees also spend longer on repairs, gardening, running errands and caring for grandchildren.

Speaking to the Guardian’s Jamie Doward, Mr Eibich said: ‘My study shows older people will use leisure time to pursue an active lifestyle and improve their health.

‘This suggests incentives such as part-time work or partial retirement programmes might be effective in maintaining the health of older workers.’

Mr Eibich, who works at the Health Economics Research Centre at Oxford, believes his results have important implications for how people should view retirement.

The research focused on two groups of retirees. According to his data, about 19 per cent of workers retire shortly after turning 60 – the earliest retirement age – while 13 per cent retire after their 65th birthday, the official retirement age until 2012.

Comparing those who retire earlier with those who give up work later made it possible to gauge the impact of retirement.

Another factor in improving health was retirees changing their behaviour. They are six per cent less likely to smoke and 11 per cent more likely to exercise frequently.

His data suggests that older employees sleep for fewer than seven hours, so the extra 40 minutes a night sleep could be a cause of improvement in mental health.

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