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Retirement Brings Most a Big Health Boost
Date:11/9/2009

It's like turning back the clock 8 years, research shows

MONDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The self-reported health of the newly retired improves so much that most feel eight years younger, a new European study suggests.

This happy news was true of most everyone except a small minority -- only 2 percent -- who had experienced "ideal" conditions in their working life, anyway.

"The results really say three things: That work puts an extra burden on the health of older workers, that the effects of this extra burden are largely relieved by retirement and, finally, that both the extra burden and the relief are larger when working conditions are poor," said Hugo Westerlund, lead author of a study published online Nov. 9 in The Lancet. "This indicates that there is a need to provide opportunities for older workers to decrease the demands in their work out of concern for their health and well-being."

But of course, added Westerlund, who is head of epidemiology at the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University in Sweden, "not all older workers suffer from poor perceived health. Many are indeed eminently healthy and fit for work. But sooner or later, everyone has to slow down because of old age catching up."

Last week, the same group of researchers reported that workers slept better after retirement than before. "Sleep improves at retirement, which suggests that sleeping could be a mediator between work and perception of poor health," Westerlund said.

This study looked at what the same 15,000 French workers, most of them men, had to say about their own health up to seven years pre-retirement and up to seven years post-retirement.

As participants got closer to retirement age, their perception of their own health declined, but went up again during the first year of retirement.

Those who reported being in poorer health declined from 19.2 percent in the year prior to ret
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