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|Evan Watson, NatureCity author & contributor|
While retiring directly into a life of leisure and sandy beaches may seem tempting to many, a new study shows that gradually decreasing your workload to the point of full retirement may be much better for your mental and physical health.
The study was published in the October 2009 issue of the American Psychological associations Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland, included 12,189 participants between the ages of 51 and 61 when the study began in 1992.
The participants were all part of the national Health and Retirement Study, which provided specific health data on each participant for the researchers to analyze.
The data was obtained through interviews every 2 years over a six year period. The participants were asked questions about health, finances, employment history and work or retirement life.
The researchers determined the health of the participants based on conditions that were diagnosed during the study period such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke and psychiatric problems.
They found that participants who continued to work part time after retirement had less functional limitations and a lower instance of disease.
They also found that retirees who continued to work within the same career had better mental health. No such association was observed when retirees took on a new type of employment.
The researchers believe the reason for this is because retirees who switched careers likely experienced some stress while adapting to a new work environment. Another reason is because retirees with financial problems, which often cause stress, were more likely to work in a different field.
The main take-away from the study is clearly that it is advisable to ease your way into retirement. During the transition it may be best to stick to a career that you are already familiar with.
Even if you take the full plunge into retirement, taking up new activities or volunteering is also a great way to keep fit both mentally and physically.
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