Study finds those who retire before 65 reap benefits

Retirement offers a great opportunity to lead a healthier life: study finds.

Study finds those who retire before 65 reap benefits

I met an old friend last week and asked her if she was still working. Her firm and confident response was: “No. I’m retired.” It was said with such conviction that I felt very envious. She had made a decision and was obviously happy to leave the workforce behind.

Why is it so easy for some and a tortuous journey for others?

If you are still working your way through the process, a University of Sydney study, Retirement – A Transition to a Healthier Lifestyle, might help.

The study followed 27,257 working Australian adults for more than three years. During that time, more than 3000 retired. Of that group, 47.2 per cent retired because of age or lifestyle reasons, 20.5 per cent because of a lack of job opportunities, 17.4 per cent due to health problems and 5.6 per cent to take care of a family member or friend.

The aim of the study was to assess retirees’ journeys from a health perspective by measuring key factors including smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet, sedentary behaviour and sleep.

Writing in The Conversation, Melody Ding, University of Sydney senior research fellow of public health, said the study showed that those who retired before 65, those who worked full-time prior to retirement and those who retired voluntarily benefitted more from retirement when lifestyle was assessed.

Retirement may not automatically lead to better health, but it presents an opportunity to engineer a healthier lifestyle, she said.

“This is consistent with previous research, which suggests the lifestyle changes associated with retirement transition differed by various factors, such as reasons for retirement, pre-retirement lifestyles and circumstances,” she said.

The study found that over the assessment period, retirees did an extra 94 minutes of physical activity per week. They were less sedentary, reducing sitting time per day by 67 minutes. They were more likely to get a healthy amount of sleep, gaining an extra 11 minutes. And half the female smokers quit smoking after retirement.

“Our finding about sleep duration is in line with a previous French study, which found people had less sleep disturbances after they retired,” said Dr Ding. “The mechanisms for the change are unknown, but we hypothesise that it might be due to the removal of work demands and stress, and having more time.”

She argues that retirement offers a unique opportunity to break previous – possibly less-than-healthy – routines and establish new habits.

If you are retiring soon or are struggling in retirement, she offers these tips:

  1. Embrace retirement. Rather than thinking about retirement as the end of a working life, consider it as the start of life after work with new freedom, opportunities and identities.
  2. Prepare for retirement ahead of time. Plan with key concepts such as health, leisure and enjoyment in mind. Pick up new hobbies, discover new passions, or reconnect with your old interests.
  3. Find a new role that makes your life meaningful, whether it is as a grandparent, teacher, volunteer or community organiser. Discover new identities within society, make new friends and stay connected.

The study concluded: “… retirement was associated with positive lifestyle changes. Health professionals and policymakers should consider developing special programs for retirees to capitalise on the healthy transitions through retirement.”

In the meantime, eat well, stay as active as possible, get healthy amounts of sleep, exercise the brain and make time to savour the moment.

Are you leading a healthier life post-retirement? Or do you intend to once you have retired?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    22nd Nov 2018
    It's all too silly. Most people who retire before 65 are obviously financially well off to begin with.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Not necessarily. We live with about $30K pa.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Correct Charlie and you have to own your own home.
    $30K will cut it but one has to be able to live frugally if one wants the bells and whistles.
    22nd Nov 2018
    30K would be extremely tight - just had a look at the bills coming up next year. 10K is already gone with health insurance and council rates, body corp (specially obligatory insurances). Power would be another 1K.
    No could not do it - would have to sell the unit and rent in a cheaper area. A free standing shack and no body corp, minimum rates and it's possible. Just let the house fall apart like our bodies.
    22nd Nov 2018
    I agree Charlie. No, we couldn’t do it for $30k and wouldn’t want to if there was a choice. It depends on what you want from retirement. Hobbies and entertainment can be expensive. Also, need to factor in your lifestyle. If you liked nice food, wine, clothes, holidays etc when you were working, it can be depressing to give that up.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Is that $30k for 1 person or 2?

    I think $50k for one is heaps to live on with house paid off.
    Maybe not if you want to holiday in luxury travelling business class and staying in the finest hotels, then maybe $70k is required
    Chris B T
    22nd Nov 2018
    Take heart, there are others capable of doing the same.
    No one believes you, so just keep it to yourself as we do.
    Smile and acknowledge how bad off the others are.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Wages alone, don't determine how well off a person is, its about wages,plus assets,plus super and any family wealth in the pipeline.

    How could anyone consider retiring early, unless they ticked a couple of these boxes...

    That's excluding chronic illness and alternative lifestyle
    25th Nov 2018
    sweeping statement Charlie. Some who retire before 65 might be well off financially, but not all. Some are also driven into retirement for lack of job opportunity and can find themselves ineligible for Newstart or aged pension due to assets intended to find retirement at the usual age that they must then parlay into income. Often they are also supporting children. Frugal is the only way to manage such uncertainty but it does not stop one enjoying the enforced premature retirement.
    22nd Nov 2018
    I retired at 62. I knew I was ready as the profession I was in no longer seemed to satisfy or inspire me. I checked my financial status with a financial adviser and providing I didn’t go crazy, I could lead a comfortable retirement. I own my own home with no mortgage. Since then I haven’t looked back or regretted my decision. I have two volunteer jobs which are very diverse from what I did before and I hugely enjoy, have time for craft and meeting friends, am active in my church and get up each morning with a thankful heart knowing I have the day ahead to go for a walk along the lake or take part in a gym class at my convenience.
    Life is too short to work and work and when one finally retires, there are perhaps ailments or ill health that prevent one from many activities.
    Retired Knowall
    22nd Nov 2018
    If you love your job, it's not work, it's what gets you up every day, gives you inspiration, improves your mental health, helps others in so many ways and increases your financial well being.
    22nd Nov 2018
    I note comfortable retirement and that makes all the difference. We have a budget and stick to it, but fortunately it’s not punitive. Then, yes retire and enjoy life by no longer running other peoples agendas and doing things you enjoy.
    Old Geezer
    22nd Nov 2018
    I didn't retire early enough as I have done so much better financially since I did retire.
    22nd Nov 2018
    I was forced into retirement earlier than I wanted to finish work, following a redundancy. At 57, never had a proper job again. Then cared for my terminally ill partner for 5 years. By that time I was 64, and sooo ready to retire. Unfortunately, the financial situation did not make it easy. But no way would I want to be in the workforce today. Too many unrealistic expectations on employees

    22nd Nov 2018
    All general advice in the article, however it is not always positive to begin with, and patti's comment above is relevant.

    A statistic to be noted only "47.2 per cent retired because of age or lifestyle reasons". That means the rest, or 52.3%, were FORCED into retirement. Very good reason why Universal Pension at Age 65 is a MUST - all need to write to their MPs, and vote them out if they don't listen.
    On the Ball
    22nd Nov 2018
    I was more or less forced to retire (at 66) but the god side was a payout. Not a big sum but about the same as if I worked to 69. And as said above, the workplace was not a good place to work. Contracts instead of a salary, Management eroding conditions of pay (overtime and allowances) etc etc.
    I did my sums and yes, it would be comfortable for my wife and I.
    I have been in my super scheme since 1970 so there was that as well.
    First year was good. Got an idea of expenses etc and how we would go.
    Then the unplanned for started.... Medical bills. Wife needed a new knee. Even with 100% full private cover that is costing about $6000 out of pocket (she wouldn't even consider the public system...). That's a big chunk out of my savings (wife wont help, and has never paid any bill in our marriage. She has her own super which she spends on one or two overseas holidays per year).

    So. Moral is, dont bargain on getting by with anything less than your net annual pay before you retire!
    22nd Nov 2018
    Wow. What a wife. If it was me married to her, we would have been divorced by now. How can you possibly live with such a selfish person. Marriage is a team effort, not a selfish, I'll do as I want, you'll do as I tell you attitude. I feel sorrow for you On the Ball.
    22nd Nov 2018
    The name you give is hilarious on the ball should be no balls... get the misses to repay you dude ... sounds to me you thought you had the marriage under control cos you controlled it financially... meantime wifeys been stacking it away... silly man ... oh by the way I’m a female... yep your being played!!!!
    22nd Nov 2018
    Problem with women like that, if you choose to divorce them , they will take you to the cleaners
    22nd Nov 2018
    I retired at 55 as my husband was sick. Could not get in the workforce again. Living on pension and managing. I have not touched my super, but it is there if I need it.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Well done Jacky

    Yet another real life proof that the pension is more than adequate

    Those who fall for the lies of the leaners , take note
    22nd Nov 2018
    Lothario, omit the term, ‘leaner,’ as it is derogatory and unnecessary. Some people manage better than others for sure but circumstances are unique to each person.
    If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves, is still a good adage to live by. The food bill is one place where much can be saved. Buy half price as much as possible and store rather than purchasing as you run out of items.
    Retirement is another individual choice as some lose their jobs, become sick, or have a job that needs one to be fit like hanging off the side of a building.
    If you retire while still active means you could travel more especially if you become disables after 70. Money is a part of when people retire.
    Again, a very individual thing!
    23rd Nov 2018
    What a hypocrite, Lothario! You have just said a single person would need $50,000 - or $70,000 if they like travel and holidays! A single pension is well below $30,000, in case are too privileged and arrogant to notice! Married rate is around $35,000 and that has to keep TWO.
    Old Geezer
    25th Nov 2018
    OGR I thought the pension was for the basics not travelling and holidays. If wanted them the you should have saved for them.

    I agree the pension is more than adequate. If you cant live on the OAP then you are simply living beyond your means. Try a bit of budgeting instead of just spending.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Best thing I ever did. I don't know how I had time to go work. No boss, no tight time schedules, no meetings, no crazy peak hour traffic. Plenty of sleep, exercise, holidays and fun time.
    23rd Nov 2018
    I agree. I actually went back to casual work after ten years in 'retirement' as an unpaid carer, but I'm loving doing work in my chosen field, on my own terms, for people who treat me well. Never had that luxury before. Work was always days of suffering and misery, out of necessity, for barely enough to get by and nowhere near what I was worth. It's wonderful to now be able to choose what I do and when I do it, and be appreciated and fairly rewarded.

    Still a carer, but now only for one whereas I had 8 to look after for many years and nearly always at least 3 until very recently.
    22nd Nov 2018
    Retired two yrs after selling my business, not a lot of money , worked on in a part time position with the buyer and retired at 55 . Best thing I ever did as it allowed me to peruse my hobby of gold mining .
    22nd Nov 2018
    Gold Mining ? - sounds too much like work
    23rd Nov 2018
    Retired at 50. work taking up too much of my time.

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