Don't Wait Till You Retire to Make Time for Your Health
Posted: Mon, 12 Aug 2019 14:30
A new report published today highlights the need for people in middle age to keep up their activity levels if they want to make the most of their retirement years.
The PARTS (Physical Activity in Retirement Transitions Study), which was commissioned by Active Norfolk and led by researchers at the University of East Anglia, surveyed over 1000 Norfolk people aged 55+ to compile the first study of its kind that investigates the impact that retirement has on a person's activity levels.
The findings from the research revealed that although people begin planning for their retirement around the age of 55, most were not focusing on their health. The report found that health problems, not having enough time or energy because of work, and a lack of motivation, are leaving many approaching retirement in poor health.
Lead researcher Dr Charlotte Salter, from the UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "Adults are spending more years of their life working than ever before. Retiring is a life-changing event which provides all sorts of opportunities – but it coincides with declining physical activity, health and well-being. While retirement can free up time, deteriorating health and well-being often become a new barrier. That's why it's so important to maintain fitness in the lead up to retirement."
Researchers found that activity that is combined with socialising, or other purposeful actions such as dog walking, gardening, housework, childcare or volunteering, were all good ways for over-55s to remain active.
As well as highlighting the need for middle aged people to take charge of their health before they approach retirement age, the report also found that employers and healthcare providers could do more to support and encourage the over-55s to be physically active.
Project lead Rachel Cooke, from Active Norfolk, said: "For many, retirement from paid employment is something to look forward to. But for others, retirement can pose many challenges including keeping physically active. It is clear from the research that retirement is a personal journey and the availability of support and opportunities to retire actively is varied.
The results of the research highlight the potential role of physical activity providers, workplaces, and support services, such as health professionals and age-related charities, for reaching those who are working full-time, part-time, and those who are already retired. Active Norfolk will be working with our partners to influence policy and provision across these three target areas to support over-55s to be active in the lead up to and during retirement."
Other recommendations for employers include having a health and well-being policy that promotes physical activity, providing opportunities to be active at work such as walking groups and cycle to work schemes, developing a pre-retirement support package with advice about physical activity and encouragement to make plans to be active in retirement, and promoting a culture shift to encourage activity in later life.
Recommendations for improvements in the recreation and fitness sector include making information about opportunities to be active locally more accessible, providing better access to green spaces, providing low-intensity activities at times that suit people over 55, with free taster sessions and discounts, and opportunities to socialise.
To read the full PARTS report, or the Key Findings and Recommendations, visit https://www.activenorfolk.org/parts-survey
The research was funded by Sport England from its Core Markets Fund, which supports people back into sport and physical activity after a major life change or transition.