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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2014 Aug;68(8):747-53. doi: 10.1136/jech-2013-203225. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Changes in household, transport and recreational physical activity and television viewing time across the transition to retirement: longitudinal evidence from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort.

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  • 1UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
  • 2MRC Epidemiology Unit and UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.



Retirement is associated with an increase in recreational physical activity but its impact on other domains of activity (at home, for transport) and sedentary behaviour, such as time spent watching television (TV) is unknown. We examined the association between retirement and changes in domain-specific and overall activity and TV viewing.


Data were derived from the population-based EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer)-Norfolk cohort. Physical activity and TV viewing time were self-reported at baseline (1997-2000) and follow-up 2 (2006-2007) by 3334 participants employed at baseline, of whom 785 (24%) were retired at follow-up 1 (2002-2006). Multivariable regression models were fitted to estimate the association between retirement and changes in physical activity and weekly TV viewing time.


Compared with continued employment, retirement was associated with a decline in overall activity (men: non-manual, -40.9 MET h/wk; manual, -49.6 MET h/wk; women: non-manual, -26.9 MET h/wk; manual, -31.6 MET h/wk; all p<0.001 (MET, metabolic equivalent of task)). Domain-specific activity declined for transport and occupational (p<0.001) and increased for recreational (p<0.02) and household (p≤0.002) activity. We observed significant interaction between retirement and social class in respect of overall and domain-specific activity apart from household activity. Retirement was associated with a mean increase in TV viewing time, with the largest increase among manual social classes (men: +3.9 h/wk; women: +2.8 h/wk; both p<0.001).


Interventions should aim to promote household and transport as well as recreational activity. Further research on the impact of retirement on sedentary behaviour is needed.

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to


Ageing; Health Behaviour; Physical Activity

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