When one thinks of retirement, they often think of their golden years, a time when worries are washed away by the tides lapping at their feet and the sun shining warm rays. But try as they might, researchers are finding it increasingly difficult to assess the health effects of retirement, according to a recent review of scientific studies compiled by the Washington Post.
Some results are mixed, while others are contradictory. In 1983, the Department of Veteran Affairs tried to assess the physical health of retirees. The findings uncovered that men’s health worsened in the three to four years that followed retirement.
But in 2010, a British study found that the mental health scores and physical functioning of retirees were much higher than those still working. And finally, a 2012 study of men and women over 50 who were slated for retirement found a 40 percent surge in an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.
So what effect, if any, does retirement have on physical or mental health? It’s hard to tell for sure. The conflicting studies have innate cultural differences embedded in them that may account for diet or life perspectives that influence how retirement influences health, both physically and mentally.
Another factor may be the fact that many retirees sit in their home and don’t really do much. This may also affect outcomes. If a retiree doesn’t go outside and participate in an active, busy lifestyle, he or she may develop physical and mental health issues from inactivity and boredom, which can manifest with poor diets or depression. However, if they get outside, schedule activities and basically enjoy life, they may find time for exercise that they never had while working. They may also find an inner peace by doing what they’ve always wanted to do, but never had time for. This could go a long way to improving your mental health.
The bottom line? Take advantage of your golden years of retirement. They could change the rest of your life.