windowthroughtime

A wry view of life for the world-weary

A New Day Yesterday – Part Seventeen

retirement-celebration

Apart from escaping the daily grind and maximising the opportunity to grow old disgracefully, you kind of hope that one of the benefits of retiring early would be to extend your life expectancy or at least that part of your life where you are compos mentis. So it was a bit of a bolt out of the blue to come across some research conducted by the National Institute on Ageing in America.

The study analysed data from 2,956 retirees who were divided into healthy or unhealthy retirees depending upon whether sickness had played a decisive part in their decision to retire. Around two thirds of the group fell into the healthy category. Data was analysed for a period of 18 years during which time 12% of the healthy and 25.6% of the unhealthy group had pegged it. Adjusting the data to take account of such factors as better education and finances amongst the healthy retirees, the study concluded that healthy retirees who worked a year longer than normal retirement age had a 11% lower mortality risk. Even the unhealthy retirees who worked a year later reduced their mortality rate by 9%.

So by retiring early have I condemned myself to an early death? Well, fortunately for every survey that “proves” one thing you can find another that shows the reverse. I take comfort in an Israeli survey of 2,374 people which found that those who retired earlier enjoyed the same lifespan as those who retired later and even more so in a German study from 2009 called Time to Retire – Time to Die? which concluded that healthier people who retired early lived longer. And then there is a Swedish survey of Army officers that found that those taking early retirement reduced the risk of dying before the age of 70 by 26%. Who knows what to make of it all other than carpe diem?

I mentioned some time ago that I was piling on the avoirdupois, so much so that I had gone up a trouser size. I threw out my old trousers but TOWT, ever resourceful, rather than giving some ingrate in a developing country the opportunity to wear them, tried to find homes for them amongst friends, relatives and associates. But like a two-legged boomerang the strides kept coming back. And a good job too as in the first five months of my retirement I have lost 16 lbs.

I wish I could say that I have found a wonderful new diet which I could promote through this blog and perhaps even earn a few bob for myself. But I haven’t made any conscious changes to my lifestyle. It is a mystery but, perhaps, is a sad commentary on how unhealthy my work regime was. Perhaps escaping from that will in itself add to my life expectancy.

I have studiously avoided exercise other than walking but a study recently published in Neurolimage and conducted by scientists at Kentucky University gave me pause for thought. It claims that those who exercise have larger brains, better memories and clearer thinking than those of us who are unfit who tend to have smaller brains and reduced cognitive powers. They also claim that exercise can protect the human brain against ageing, staving off the damage that builds up with age and even prompting the replacement of dying cells, perhaps providing protection against Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, my small, damaged brain was unable to comprehend the import of this report. Anyway, I bet I can find a survey that says the opposite.

Until the next time, if there is one!

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