Although aging may mean more physical problems, retirement can help people lead healthier lives, a new study from Australia suggests.
Researchers found that when folks retire they tend to increase their physical activity, sit less and sleep more soundly.
"Our study paints a positive picture of retirement," said lead researcher Dr. Melody Ding, a senior research fellow at the University of Sydney's School of Public Health. "Retirees [in the study] were acquiring a healthier lifestyle. Factors that may have contributed to this include availability of time to be physically active and removal from sedentary jobs and work-related stress."
The study tracked about 25,000 Australians. The average age of those still working was just over 54. During slightly more than three years of follow-up, about 3,100 of the study participants retired.
After retirement, study participants reported increased physical activity levels of about an hour and half a week. Retirees also sat around less -- cutting their sedentary time down by just over an hour each day. And, compared to when they were working, those who retired slept an average of 11 minutes more each day, the research revealed.
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The study authors also noted that about half of the women smokers quit after retirement.
No significant link was found between retirement status and alcohol use or eating fruit and vegetables.