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Open Access Research

Changes in leisure-time physical activity after transition to retirement: a follow-up study

Jouni Lahti*, Mikko Laaksonen, Eero Lahelma and Ossi Rahkonen

Author Affiliations

Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011, 8:36  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-8-36

Published: 23 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Retirement is a major life change that is likely to affect lifestyles. The aim of this study was to examine changes in leisure-time physical activity of moderate and vigorous intensity among ageing employees facing transition to retirement over a follow-up of 5-7 years.

Methods

The baseline data were collected by questionnaire surveys in 2000-2002 among 40-60-year-old employees of the City of Helsinki. A follow-up survey was conducted among the baseline respondents in 2007 (n = 7332, response rate 83%). Those who were on disability retirement at the follow-up were distinguished from old-age retirees. Leisure-time physical activity was measured using similar questions in both surveys.

Results

Old-age retirees increased significantly their time spent in moderate-intensity physical activity: women 31 minutes per week and men 42 minutes per week on average. Such changes were not found among disability retirees or those remaining employed. There were no changes in vigorous activity. Leisure-time physical inactivity at follow-up was lower among old-age retirees compared with employees of nearly the same age. Adjustments made for potential baseline covariates had no effects on these findings.

Conclusions

Transition to old-age retirement was associated with an increase in moderate-intensity leisure-time physical activity and a decrease in the proportion of inactive. Encouraging people to leisure-time physical activity after retirement is worthwhile as the increase in free time brings new possibilities for it.

Keywords:
Physical activity; retirement; health; follow-up