If you are currently retired or thinking of retiring soon, then it’s an excellent time for you to consider changing your lifestyle. Although the early phases of retirement may allow you to be fairly physically active, the aging process has a tendency to slow some folks down.
Previous research has clearly indicated that as adults age, the maintenance of regular physical activity can enhance and maintain positive health outcomes. However, not all adults who retire consider their lifestyle and how that affects their future life.
According to Stephen Kritchevsky, head of the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, activity levels in those who retire are somewhat mixed as it can depend upon the type of job they had prior to retirement. “For many people, it’s a very important life change that many people plan for financially but they fail to plan for the other aspects of their lives,” he said.
“For those people … that are coming from jobs that are sedentary in their nature, it’s really an opportunity to use that time to take care of yourself in a way that will have important dividends in the long term.”
This is a very important point if you are considering retirement as more people retiring have had sedentary jobs and their risk of serious diseases will continue to increase and likely become manifest during the golden years of retirement. This unfortunate trend is much more likely if you continue to be sedentary in the years following retirement.
Recent research conducted in the U.K. looked at 98 adults aged from 48-89. Of this number, 60% of the participants were retired. These subjects were asked to wear an accelerometer for one week. This device measures body movements. The researchers found that those who were retired spent approximately seven percent of their time being active compared with six percent of employed people. The retired subjects spent 75% of the time during the week lying down or sitting compared with 78% of people who were employed. The results of this study also indicated that the total amount of sitting time increased with the age of the subject.
The most telling issue in this research was that only one in five subjects met the recommended guidelines for physical activity per week (two and a half hours per week).
Dr. Alan Godfrey, the study author at the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, suggested that retirement age may offer an important window of opportunity for encouraging those of this age group to become more physically active.
“Family members can obviously help with this period of transition by planning for the future and helping the person set to retire in adopting new or altering old (physical activity) strategies,” he said. “In my opinion, this is an excellent strategy to help prevent the onset of chronic disease in a susceptible demographic before it occurs.”
Godfrey also remarked that “Engaging with community or peer led activity groups (walking clubs, outdoor pursuits, etc.) would be one simple and effective example of adopting and maintaining any desire to become more active.”
“Some people just don’t plan for the free time they’re going to have, and end up watching a lot of television and sitting around the house,” he said. “That leads to both a sense of social isolation … and also physical inactivity.”
I could not agree more. This is an important way that retired people can stay active and socially connected. This has obvious physical and psychological benefits. For those of you who are retiring or are in the transition stage, please take the necessary steps to enhance your lifestyle in the golden years! Remember, this is your time to shine!
Pittman, G.,“Retirement May Be “Critical Window” for Getting Active,”Medscape web site, Nov.12, 2013;http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/813955, last accessed Nov.12, 2013.