While some studies suggest that retiring early could kill you, others say the exact opposite. As with all scientific studies, understanding the greater picture is important in order to truly analyze what the statistics mean.
The Shell Oil company conducted a study that showed past employees who entered retirement at age 55 and lived to be at least 65-years-old, died sooner than employees who retired at age 65.
In an article by BBC titled, Do Those Who Retire Early Live Longer?, they shed light on why these stats aren’t extremely accurate:
1. People who are in poor health and retire early because of their condition drag down the statistics.
2. The study’s data focused on people who retired at age 55 and died after retiring, compared to those who retired at age 65. However, those who were still working between ages 55-65 but who also died, were not included in the findings and “of course no-one who retires at 65 will have died before they reached that age,” according to BBC. Therefore, the data gets skewed.
Even though there is no clear evidence that retiring early means a shorter life expectancy, there is overwhelming evidence that suggests the more active you are as you age, the longer you’ll live.
Stay Active for Higher Life Expectancy
Regardless of whether you’re retirement planning already or work until you’re 75, staying mentally and physically active are the most important aspects in increasing your life expectancy.
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine recently revealed that sitting for prolonged periods of time could likely mean an earlier demise. In a study of 220,000 people, those who sat for more than 8 hours a day had a 15 percent greater chance of dying within the next 3 years than those who only sat for 4 hours each day.
Another study that spanned over 40 years showed that moderate levels of physical activity increased life expectancy by 1.3 years for males 50 and older, and 1.5 years for females 50 and older. The same study showed that high levels of physical activity increased life expectancy by 3.7 years and 3.5 years, respectively.
Don’t Retire Early, Find Hobbies Instead
I can’t count the number of elderly people I’ve met that retire early and stop living.
For some reason Americans have placed “retirement” on a lofty pedestal and the normal definition of retirement means no longer having to work another day in your life. However, I firmly believe that this view of “retirement” is only a recipe for disaster.
Instead of retirement being viewed as the last day you ever have to work again, it should be viewed as an opportunity to no longer having to work at a job you despise solely for the paycheck. It should mean that you now have the ability to do whatever you want!
So, before you wear out the couch cushions, consider a few ways to stay active in retirement:
1. Get a part-time job
If you’ve worked a job where you dreaded every Monday and celebrated every Friday, now is the time to go do whatever you’re passionate about and work a job you’d love to do. If you no longer have to work out of necessity, the amount you get paid shouldn’t matter.
Considering working for a non-profit or volunteering at a local school or church. I personally think that giving money is a great thing, but giving time is something that can’t be created. Time is finite and giving it to help others is a great way to stay active mentally and avoid being a couch potato.
3. Walk, Bike, Golf or Work in your Garden
Regardless of what physical activity you choose to do, it should be part of your daily routine. I’m not suggesting you run a marathon, but walking quickly for at least 30 minutes a day will help keep you young and increase your life expectancy.
4. Party like you’re 20 again
Okay, I’m not seriously suggesting that you “party” but the most healthy retirees I’ve met have quite a few different friends that they do things with. Travel, visit museums, go shopping, meet up for a cup of coffee and just be social.
While retiring early could result in dying younger, it ultimately depends on what you do, or don’t do, in retirement that makes the difference in living a long life or passing away at a younger age.
Stay young. Stay active. Stay healthy.