Monday, November 29, 2010

Study: Retirement Good for One's Physical and Mental Fatigue

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, while retirement does not change the risk of major chronic diseases, it is associated with a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, particularly among people with chronic diseases. In "Effect of retirement on major chronic conditions and fatigue: French GAZEL occupational cohort study", the authors, led by Dr. Hugo Westerlund from Stockholm University, followed a large occupational cohort in France and looked at respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, mental fatigue, and physical fatigue, measured annually by self report over a 15-year observation period.
Several explanations of these findings are possible. If work is tiring for many older workers, the decrease in fatigue could simply reflect removal of the source of the problem. Also, without the demands of work, participants may feel less concerned about limited energy, leading to lower ratings of fatigue. Furthermore, retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise.
The authors note, however, that participants in the study retired at 55 or close to that age, due to generous retirement provisions in France and from their employer, so that their findings may not apply to settings in which people retire later.

Writing an editorial "Is early retirement good for your health?" in the same issue of the BMJ, Alex Burdorf, PhD, Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, echoed these concerns and stated that "[r]esearch is needed to corroborate these findings in other countries with a substantially higher age of retirement."

Source: British Medical Journal Abstract (November 24, 2010)

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