Retirement is that point in your life when you decide to leave the labor force. Of course, you can always opt to semi-retire by reducing the number of hours you work.
For most, the decision to retire usually depends on financial reasons. If you know that your company pension benefits kick in at a certain age, then that’s when you’ll most likely choose to retire.
The whole idea of retirement is a modern invention. It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that people began to stop working before their health took a chronic turn for the worse. Life expectancy in the 1800s was roughly 37 years of age (!). Of course, there were no pensions either, and so everyone simply worked until their death. Germany was the first country to introduce retirement in the 1880s.
There have been conflicting reports about the benefits of retirement. Although a lot of research documents definite physical benefits in relation to retirement, there also seem to be studies that suggest continued work is actually good for the brain and soul.
So what do we make of this debate: is it better to keep working and try to maintain your work skill set, or is it best to step back and let other, younger employees do the daily grind? Well — recent results from a Swedish study come down in favor of the pro-retirement camp. Researchers at the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University have discovered that retirees experience less tiredness and depression.
The Swedish research team analyzed data from more than 11,000 men and almost 2,900 women in France who were surveyed for seven years before and seven years after they retired. Seventy-two percent retired between the ages of 53 and 57 and all were retired by the age of 64.
Now take a look at these statistics: in the year before retirement, 25% of the participants suffered from depression and seven percent were diagnosed with various conditions, including diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease, and/or stroke. But after retirement, there was a big decrease in mental and physical fatigue, and a smaller, but still significant decrease in depression. As for rates of chronic diseases — they didn’t decrease, but gradually increased with age, as the researchers expected they would.
The research team noted that many people find full-time work tiring, so, once that is removed, energy levels go up. But they also suggest that retirement allows people to engage in more stimulating and restorative activities. Have you ever been in the position where you were too tired at the end of the work day to exercise? No so for retirees, the researchers say, who can get all the health benefits of exercise when they don’t have to contend with job fatigue.