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Robert Redford May Be Wrong When He Said Retirement Leads To Death

Here's what science has to say about it.

You may hope to retire some day, but don't expect to find the 79-year-old actor Robert Redford anywhere near you on the back nine. The Hollywood legend told The Wall Street Journal that he thinks "retirement can lead to death," and added "that’s not for me.”

Death? Really? In the literal sense? Well, the jury is still out on that one. Some of it is just common sense: Retirement generally comes with lower income and less money to invest in your health. Retirement also comes with less cognitive and physical activity, which, according to research from a 2010 study by Susann Rohwedder and Robert J. Willis, is behind the old "use it or lose it" adage. Additionally, retirement often means changes in daily routines and lifestyles which are potentially associated with unhealthy behavior, numerous studies have shown. But, the overall consequences of retirement as they link to death are not at all clear, notes Medical Daily.

One issue that factors in the research is the reason why individuals retired in the first place. In some cases, it's because their own health starts to fail. Other times, they retire to better manage the care of an ailing parent or spouse -- something that is frequently more stressful than going to the office every day. And stress, as we know, can be a killer.

And often, early retirement is something that doesn't happen by choice. When you lose a job in your early 60s and can't find another one, the financial stress and sense of worth deliver a one-two punch to the gut. AARP reports that half of all older workers who lost their jobs in the past five years remain unemployed

As for Redford, we celebrate the fact that the twilight years have actually been pretty good to him. As he told the Wall Street Journal, career-wise he's busier than he's been in a long while. He has two movies coming out this fall: A Walk in the Woods, an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s book about walking the Appalachian Trail, which opened this month, and Truth, opening in October, a drama in which he plays Dan Rather. From the Wall Street Journal: "One reason for all this activity, Redford says, is that age and its diminishments have also brought freedom and opportunity. No longer just a pretty face, he now gets offered parts that would have been denied him years ago."

We should all be so lucky.

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