Will You Retire — Or Not?

I made it outside on the concrete again this morning for a five-mile run at 5 a.m. Quite pleasant, actually. This is the time of year in NE Ohio when you can catch some nearly perfect running conditions in the early morning: mild temps, no wind, perfectly clear sky. And the stars far outnumbered the headlights. Woot.

I wrote yesterday about exercise and my belief in the value of keeping active. That was in the wake of the news about the deaths of three runners during a half marathon in Detroit Sunday. I was thinking about that again this morning — yet with a different twist: working for as long as you can.

We are entering the period when the first wave of the Baby Boomers — me and millions of others — were expected to quit working and fade off into the sunset, looking for the early-bird food specials and the world’s softest yogurt. Not sure that is going to happen for a variety of reasons.

First, the economic meltdown has had a chilling effect on retirement savings (see Business Week, “The Retirement Dilemma: Keep Working?“) and on the expectations of those already or soon-to-be retired. And many of the 77 million members of the Baby Boomer generation — perhaps 25 percent — now say they will delay retirement. (See USA Today, “For Boomers — recession is redefining retirement.”)

Second, there is growing evidence that working — like exercise — keeps you healthy. For instance, here’s from an article in the NYT this morning by Tara Parker-Pope, “For a Healthy Retirement, Keep Working“:

Many people view retirement as a time to stop working. But new research shows that people who take on full- or part-time jobs after retirement have better health.

The finding is based on data collected from 12,189 men and women over a 6-year period. The participants, who were from ages 51 to 61 at the start of the study, answered questions about their employment history, experiences after retirement and their physical and mental health.

Researchers from the University of Maryland found that men and women who kept working after retirement had fewer major diseases or disabilities than those who quit work, according to the study published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Retirees benefited whether the work was a full- or part-time job, self-employment or temporary.

Wow. Who would have considered this years ago? Both running and working are good for you.

Might as well keep at it.

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