Working when you are at a retirement age is better for your overall health, researchers find.
As far as preventative medicine goes, there are few treatments less expensive and more effective than physical activity.
The health benefits of physical activity are the touchstone of prescribed treatment to promote good health in children. But the same effect can be realized in senior citizens, who sometimes find it easier to sit than stand.
As a result, health officials encourage senior citizens who can remain active in the workforce to do so if they wish.
“There is something about the aging process, that if you stay working, they you stay hardy,’’ said University of Miami epidemiologist Alberto Caban-Martinez, who contributed to a university study on the health benefits of working for people in their 60s and 70s.
The study was published in late September in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, and although it confirms other studies, it presents hard data to back up the belief that senior citizens need to keep working to stay healthy.
In a study of 85,000 adults over the age of 65 (with the mean age of 75), the study found that people who were still working were three times more likely to be in overall good health than those who were retired.
And the type of work mattered. So-called blue collar workers, with more physical demands, were 15 percent less likely to report multiple chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes or cancer, than white collar workers.
“Not to encourage workaholics, but there is something to be said about part-time or full-time work,’’ Caban-Martinez said.
The researchers note that their own work seemed to duplicate previous studies that show that physical activity and social engagement prevent chronic disease that come with age.
“Maybe the workplace is giving you the physical activity that keeps you mentally and physically healthy,’’ Caban-Martine said.
There is no reason to think the work needs to be rewarded with a salary. Volunteering is work, and it pays the same in health benefits even if it does not add to the bottom line.
Recent research from the University of Michigan discovered a notable link between volunteerism and longevity. By studying 1,200 adults over 65, most of them who had retired from their lifetime line of work, then checking on them again eight years later, it was discovered that those who volunteered at least 40 hours a year to a single cause were 40 percent more likely to be alive at the end of the study.
The numbers held when researchers took into account income levels, original health and the number of weekly social interactions into account. What did not hold was that volunteers who spread their time among several organizations did not gain an advantage in longevity.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.