In a new study, researchers found that people in middle-age need to keep up their physical activity levels if they are to enjoy a fit and healthy retirement.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of East Anglia and other institutes.
The study reveals that over-55s, in particular, should be doing more to keep fit as they approach retirement age—because of the physical, mental and social benefits of being active.
But health problems, not having enough time or energy because of work, and a lack of motivation is leaving many approaching retirements in poor shape.
In the study, the team examined the relationship between retirement and physical activity.
More than 1,000 over-55s took part in an online ‘Physical Activity and Retirement Transitions’ survey about their physical activity levels, and expectations and experiences of retirement.
The research team also held focus groups and interviews with people at retirement age about staying physically active.
They found from the age of around 55, people begin thinking about retirement and making plans for their future.
Frailty and pre-frailty—the decline in health, resilience, and mobility often associated with aging—are conditions previously expected to be found in people at retirement age and over.
In order to enjoy a fit and healthy retirement, a really key thing is that people need to maintain their physical fitness through their fifties and beyond.
But the team found there are many barriers to this—from poor health, lack of motivation, and the cost and availability of sports, activities and fitness classes, to not having enough time—due to work or in many cases because of caring responsibilities.
The researchers say that while retirement can free up time, deteriorating health and wellbeing often become a new barrier.
That’s why it’s so important to maintain fitness in the lead up to retirement.
Supporting older adults to lead active lifestyles ahead of and at retirement could ensure people are more mobile, capable and healthier once retired.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Charlotte Salter, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.
The survey can be found here.
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