Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Retirement: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

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Physical activity and sedentary behavior are major risk factors for chronic disease. These behaviors may change at retirement, with implications for health in later life. The study objective was to describe longitudinal patterns of moderate to vigorous and domain-specific physical activity and TV watching by retirement status.Participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (n=6,814) were recruited from six U.S. communities and were aged 45-84 years at baseline. Retirement status and frequency and duration of domain-specific physical activity (recreational walking, transport walking, non-walking leisure activity, caregiving, household, occupational/volunteer) and TV watching were self-reported at four study exams (2000 to 2012). Fixed effect linear regression models were used to describe longitudinal patterns in physical activity and TV watching by retirement status overall and stratified by socioeconomic position. Analyses were conducted in 2017.Of 4,091 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis participants not retired at baseline, 1,012 (25%) retired during a median of 9 years follow-up. Retirement was associated with a 10% decrease (95% CI= -15%, -5%) in moderate to vigorous physical activity and increases of 13% to 29% in recreational walking, household activity, and TV watching. Among people of low socioeconomic position, the magnitude of association was larger for moderate to vigorous physical activity. Among people of high socioeconomic position, the magnitude of association was larger for non-walking leisure and household activity.The retirement transition was associated with changes in physical activity and TV watching. To inform intervention development, future research is needed on the determinants of behavior change after retirement, particularly among individuals of low socioeconomic position.





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Jones, Sydney A, Quefeng Li, Allison E Aiello, Angela M O'Rand and Kelly R Evenson (2018). Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Retirement: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. American journal of preventive medicine, 54(6). pp. 786–794. 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.02.022 Retrieved from

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Angela M. O'Rand

Professor Emeritus of Sociology

My major research interests focus on patterns of inequality across the life span, with a special interest in the temporal diversity of life transitions, their consequences for later life, and the impact of institutions on these transitions over time. Over forty years I have examined workplace policies related to wage and benefit structures and the impact of workers' educational, work and family histories on socioeconomic outcomes. The changing employment relationship and the re-organization of retirement institutions (especially pensions) have been other central concerns of my research. Most recently, I have turned to the cumulative impact of economic adversity on early-, mid- and later-life health risks, such as heart attack. This research has uncovered the persistent effects of childhood adversity on adult heart attack risk, especially among women. I am expanding this focus over the next few years to examine the more general question of "life course risks" and increased economic and social inequalities in life course trajectories of health and wealth across birth cohorts and race-ethnic groups (including the role of debt as a stressor). And, from 2014-2020 I was the Principle Investigator on Duke's NIH P30 Center grant  in the Demography and Economics of Aging awarded to the “Center for Population Health and Aging;” Scott Lynch is the current PI appointed for 2020-25.  Over the same period I was the Director of the Duke University Population Research Institute.

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