Researchers Find That Retirement and Healthy Lifestyle Don’t Always Correlate

Study published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine

Article ID: 670712

Released: 7-Mar-2017 10:30 AM EST

Source Newsroom: West Virginia University

  • Credit: West Virginia University

    Retirement couple walking on a beach.

  • Credit: West Virginia University

    Dr. Dana King

  • Credit: West Virginia University

    Jun Xiang

Newswise — MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults may be more challenging than originally thought. New research, published this week in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, sought to compare the rates of healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults to those who were still working.

Dana King, M.D., professor and chair of the West Virginia University School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine led the study in cooperation with Jun Xiang, M.S., health data analyst in the Department of Family Medicine, to examine whether retired late-middle-aged adults have differing rates of adherence to healthy lifestyle and metabolic risk factors, including diet, exercise, smoking, weight, glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol, compared with same-aged adults who are not yet retired.

"We know that full-time work keeps people busy and often unable to find the time for healthy eating and exercise,” Dr. King said. “We decided to investigate whether people who were retiring took advantage of their additional free time to lead a healthier lifestyle."

Chronic disease, use of multiple medications and busy daily lives make following a healthy lifestyle more difficult. Previous studies of recent retirees indicated that the transition to retirement may offer an opportunity for a “new start” toward healthy living and greater adherence to recommended patterns of exercise and healthy habits.

This research offers valuable findings and suggests that retirement does not have a strong association with improvements in healthy lifestyle habits or other cardiovascular risk factors. Retired baby boomers are more likely to be obese and to have high blood pressure or elevated glucose levels, and were no more likely to be following a healthy diet. Only physical activity was likely to increase after retirement. Future research efforts are needed to further understand health and lifestyle challenges during the transition to retirement.

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