I have been retired for 17 years, since I turned 60, and my health has improved dramatically since then. I have lost around 20 pounds and I exercise regularly. I must confess that I got careless the first few years. There’s a dangerous ‘freedom’ you experience when you first retire that takes some getting used to. It turns out that I’m not the only one to encounter that situation.
Healthy lifestyle adherence among retired, late middle-aged adults may be more challenging than originally thought. New research, from West Virginia University,
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.
I can testify that it is far easier to pick up some good exercise habits after retiring, but to start eating intelligently after years, maybe decades, of bad eating habits is a far more difficult task. I also believe that regarding good health, exercise makes up only around 30 percent of it while eating accounts for the remaining 70 percent. I know for a fact that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.