Working can be stressful, but it turns out the longer you do it, the longer you may live. That’s according to a new study by Oregon State University, which found working past 65 can add years to your life—while retiring early could put you at an increased risk of dying younger.
Analyzing data collected from 1992 to 2010 from the Healthy Retirement Study, a long-term examination of U.S. adults run by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Aging, Chenkai Wu, the lead author of the study, found healthy adults who retired at 66 instead of 65 had an 11% lower risk of death. Even Americans who said they were unhealthy lived longer if they delayed retirement by one year. Those who were deemed unhealthy had a 9% lower risk of death. It didn’t matter if it was a blue collar or white collar job either. In the survey, those who worked a year longer than age 65 reported seeing a benefit. (Reading more, here: Working During Retirement: Making The Most Of It.)
While the reasons for their longer lives varies, the research indicates that by working past their retirement age people remain engaged and as a result get a health benefit from it. However, researchers from Oregon State University aren’t the only ones who see a correlation between working longer and health. A U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health 2014 study of French workers who stayed employed showed their health actually improved and working longer delayed the onset of dementia. That is particularly telling because Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases is a huge problem in the U.S. plaguing millions of Americans and costing the nation $236 billion in 2016, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
So why does working longer improve your health both emotionally and physically? For starters, employees who prolong retirement stay engaged with their co-workers which helps not only their mental state but also their physical state. They are still thinking, problem-solving and socializing, all of which boosts their mental state and keeps their minds fresh. The physical activities associated with work, such as walking to the train or to get lunch, seem to play a role in maintaining an aging worker’s health. (Read more, here: The Best Jobs For Retirees.)
The Bottom Line
Lots of people dream about retiring early, but research from Oregon State University and others indicates working past age 65 may give you a longer life than retiring at a younger age. While more research needs to be done, the research implies that staying engaged with your colleagues can boost both your mental and physical health.