Research published today in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of The British Geriatrics Society, reveals that retirement promotes enjoyment of everyday activities and general well-being. The study examined participants’ enjoyment of activities such as going to the gym or reading a magazine, as they transitioned from work into retirement. Retirees reported that they actually got greater enjoyment from doing the same things they did before retirement.
A common public perception is that retirement can have the potential to reduce well-being, because of the loss of social networks and purpose in life, particularly for single retirees. This study found evidence to the contrary, with systematic increases in enjoyment which did not differ by marital status. Following retirement, some participants continued to work part-time, and enjoyment in the work place increased substantially post-retirement. This suggests that the work activities per se are not inherently unpleasant, but in the context of issues such as restricted sleep, time pressure and lack of autonomy, it makes them relatively disagreeable.
Participants rated their physical and social activities as being the most enjoyable, with the least enjoyable being work and chores. Across the working day, enjoyment decreased when the trip to work began, was momentarily elevated during work breaks, and rose again at the end of the working day. Enjoyment increased as the week progressed consistent with the “Thank God it’s Friday” phenomenon. The study found that people were not only “working for the weekend” over the week, but were also working for the “eternal weekend” of retirement.
Prof Tim Olds, a researcher at University of South Australia – Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity, and one of the lead authors of the Age & Ageing paper, said:
“The really striking result of this study was how much enjoyment of everyday activities after retirement resembled enjoyment of the same activities on weekends — but not on working days — before retirement. Retirement is a kind of ‘eternal weekend’. And it lasts. Even 12 months after retirement, enjoyment was still elevated. It may have do with a greater sense of autonomy and time flexibility. Retirees do the same things — household chores and social interactions and using the computer — but they can choose when and how they do them. They have mastery over their choices.”