Could Retiring Early Damage your Health?

Retiring can give people new lease on life, with less stress and significantly more free time. But life after work might not be as good for your heart as you may imagine…

We spend around 30% of our life at work – that's around 90,000 hours in total over an average lifetime1. Retiring from work early can seem an attractive and rewarding prospect, especially after decades of hard work, dedication and more often than not, significant stress. An early retirement could give you more time to relax and focus on hobbies, without needing to worry about work, attend meetings or commute daily. You might think that retiring prematurely would do wonders for your physical health. However, research has shown that people who retire early have a higher chance of developing a variety of health problems, including heart disease. A 2017 survey of American men found that those who retired aged 62, before the normal retirement age of 65, have a 20% higher mortality rate2. Why could this be?

A rise in retirement-related heart disease risk has been observed in multiple European countries, excluding France. There aren't any conclusive links between retiring early and a person's smoking status, drinking frequency, diabetes risk or hypertension risk – only heart disease has been identified. Data gathered over the past 30 years has shown that retirement can have a big impact on heart health, although exactly why remains to be understood. In a Danish study, retirement at any age was linked to a modestly higher risk of heart attack, during a seven-year trial3.

Retirement isn't always a smooth sailing into an easier life; it can be a bumpy landing into the unknown, even if you've planned years in advance. Retirement ranks as life's 10th most stressful event, according to the American Institute of Stress4. For many people, leaving work for good can be a bitter-sweet experience. In the short-term, it can be immensely enjoyable, allowing you more time to holiday, visit friends and family or focus on personal projects. But over time, your physical and mental health could start to suffer. After retirement, most people do moderately more exercise, often up to 2 hours more per week more than while employed. But this increase in physical activity is mirrored with an increase in sedentary behaviour, such as sitting in front of the TV, staying in bed or driving around2. Without work colleagues and a rigid daily routine, loneliness, boredom and a lack of purpose can arise; these factors could all be contributing to this increase in heart disease risk. According to the Institute of Economic Affairs, a UK-based think-tank, people are more likely to experience negative health consequences the longer their retirement is5.

Some cultures and countries don't recognize retirement. For example, there's no word for retirement in the Japanese language, at least not in the sense of permanently stopping work. It's not uncommon for Japan's resident s to work well beyond retirement age – leaving a job early is seen as unhealthy and damaging to health. When it comes to heart disease risk, according to the research we've mentioned above, they might be right. Does this mean you should put your early retirement plans on hold and continue working until you hit retirement age? Probably not. Any correlation between retirement age and health cannot be 100% confirmed; there are simply too many variables and factors involved. There are also contradictory results across different studies.

If you want to take care of your heart, then following a healthy, or healthier, diet and lifestyle is usually the way to go. Even small changes to your routine, like walking for an extra 10 minutes each day or cutting back on booze, can make a big difference to your physical and mental health in the long run, by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Kwai Heartcare+ with Japanese Black Garlic has been formulated to help lower blood pressure, reduce abnormally high cholesterol levels and support normal heart function. Each easy-to-swallow daily tablet contains 450mg of Japanese Black Garlic, a 2,700μg standardised dose of Allicin and Vitamin B1.

When it comes to blood sugar levels, Allicin is perhaps the most-important molecule obtained from garlic. It's this potent molecule that is thought to be responsible for many of black garlic's health-supporting properties. Allicin can support good heart health by helping to lower cholesterol levels and resist temporary oxidative stress. Find out more about this supplement and others in the Kwai range by clicking here. Always talk with your doctor before making changes to your diet, lifestyle or supplement regimen - the Kwai blog is not a source of medical information.

1 https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/british-people-work-days-lifetime-overtime-quit-job-survey-study-a8556146.html

2 https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/60/5/e367/5489765

3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24408969/

4 https://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory

5 https://iea.org.uk/in-the-media/press-release/retirement-causes-a-major-decline-in-physical-and-mental-health-new-resea

6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5642189/