Retirement will make you healthy and happy

Retirees see happiness return to levels they last saw in their 30s


Grandmother smiling

The government's work into what makes us happy has revealed that retirement is truly a golden age. Apparently when we retire we feel a huge weight lift from our shoulders, and we feel more carefree than any other time in our adult lives. We throw off the shackles of work and feel healthier than any time since our 30s.

So what's so great about retirement?

The Office for National Statistics has been measuring well-being by age, and has concluded that health is the most important driver for happiness. It found that young people feel the healthiest, with 75% of people aged between 16 and 24 saying they are satisfied with their health. Through their 20s and 30s this starts to drift south, until only 60% of those aged 59 feel healthy.

Once they hit their 60s, it suddenly improves again, and hits 67% - a rate they last saw in their 30s.

Genuinely healthier

For lots of people it's the lifestyle change associated with retirement that makes the difference, because it makes a massive difference to people's levels of anxiety. For those retiring now on good final salary pensions, who bought their houses decades ago at rock bottom prices, they have lost their cares and gained financial and physical freedom and independence.

The ONS found that people in their 60s were far less likely than their working counterparts to feel anxiety and depression. This peaks at 22% among those in their late 40s and 50s, before dropping to 14% for those in their late 60s.

In addition, once you have retired, you can set your own pace, and therefore are less likely to push your body beyond where you feel fit and well, so physically you are less likely to be suffering the same aches and pains.

Just feeling better

However, the ONS found that two strong themes also emerged which could be particularly important in explaining why retired people are happier. They were 'choice and control". People were happier when they felt in control of their own life, and able to make choices themselves. For many people, especially those in unsatisfying jobs, retirement is their first chance to be truly in control of their life.

Other studies have drawn out some of the other advantages of retirement. A study for the American Psychological Association found that happiness peaks between the ages of 60 and 69 because as people get older they are better able to control their emotions.

Meanwhile a study from Stamford University concluded that older people were just more able to spot what would make them unhappy and avoid it.

But what do you think, are you getting happier with age? Let us know in the comments.

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