Good news: Retirement is good for your health

Credit: Wavebreak Media Ltd/

‘We find strong evidence that retirement improves both health and life satisfaction.’ That’s the finding of a US study of 6,000 people who had worked for at least 20 years before reaching retirement age.

It found that these retirees immediately felt more satisfied with life right after they retired.

That alone is significant, but the study continued for four or more years. That’s when those involved began to show ‘significant improvements’ in their health. The report described this as a lag time that is ‘consistent with the view that health is a stock that evolves slowly’.

‘It seems like retirement is a good place to be,’ the joint author of the report, Devon Gorry, assistant professor of economics at Utah State University told Today. ‘People immediately report being happier on average and less depressed.’

Those significant improvements after four years were found particularly in mobility and the ability to handle everyday tasks. It seems retirement had given these retirees more time to devote themselves to healthier habits such as living with less stress and being more active, doing more exercise.

For pre-retirees, it’s worth knowing that ‘retirement is a good place to be’ and with the possibility of the kind of health benefits described. That makes it a time when well-being can improve.

While the results won’t appear immediately, they do appear. ‘If you invest in your health, it takes time for those investments to show up,’ says Gorry.

A couple of things to be aware of: none of the 6,000 tested in the study were disabled, unemployed before retirement, or forced into early retirement because of poor health. They had worked up to the time they were eligible for their pension payments.

The reality is that health is a good investment at whatever stage of life. That’s a given. This study signals the value of being healthy before retirement to make your retirement stronger—and to enjoy greater life satisfaction in retirement.

One more thing: the health improvements didn’t occur because these retirees visited the doctor more often. They didn’t. The healthier lifestyle helped make it happen. That’s the point.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of


Category: Ageing, Attitude, Physical Health

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