Staying socially active during retirement could add years to your life, according to a new study.
The more groups a person is a part of right after they retire, the less risk of early death they face. Australian researchers found a person’s chance of dying within the six years of retiring was just 2 percent for people who participated in two groups before retirement and who stayed active in those groups. Their risk of death rose to 5 percent if they left one group, and if they left both, it increased to 12 percent.
The sense of community and belonging one achieves from social group connections provides a healthy and meaningful life. Social planning may actually be as important as medical and financial planning when it comes to retirement.
In other words, join a group or two if you do not already belong to one. If you already belong to a group, think about making the most of those social connections and explore other groups you can join. Remember that remaining active in these groups is as important as remaining physically active.
This report was published online in the BMJ Open journal.
This study did not prove cause-and-effect, only association.
It’s possible that people who are prone to mental or physical illness were less social as a result of retirement. Still the study underlines the importance of meaningful human interaction, the effects of which appear comparable to physical activity.
Social activity is certainly no substitute for physical activity though; you should do both.
The study compared data of 424 retirees over six years with people who were still working.
Participants completed questionnaires about social groups s/he belonged to, quality of life, and their physical health.
Researchers also found an association between membership in social groups and an improved quality of life.