(Australian Associated Press)
Retirees belonging to social groups live longer, an Australian study has found.
And the health and wellbeing benefits from belonging to groups such as book clubs or church organisations are similar to those gained from regular exercise.
The findings prompted the researchers to suggest social planning could be added to financial planning for retirees trying to adjust to their new lives.
The University of Queensland study, published in the journal BJM Open, tracked the health of 424 people in England for six years after they had retired.
They were compared with the same number of people, matched for age, sex, and health status, but who were still working.
All participants were part of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which started in 2002.
The researchers found that membership of social groups after retirement is linked to a longer life.
The more groups a person belongs to in the first few years after stopping work, the lower their risk of death.
The effects of physical activity on health and wellbeing were found to be comparable to those associated with maintaining old group memberships and developing new ones.
“These findings also have unique practical implications for retirement planning,” the authors said.
“They suggest that as much as practitioners may help retirees adjust by providing support with financial planing, they may also help by providing social planning.
“In this regard, practical interventions should focus on helping retirees to maintain their sense of purpose and belonging by assisting them to connect to groups and communities that are meaningful to them.”