Retirement and Healthy Lifestyle: A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Data Report

J Am Board Fam Med. Mar-Apr 2017;30(2):213-219. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2017.02.160244.


Background: The objective of this study was to compare the rates of healthy lifestyle adherence among retired late-middle-aged adults with rates among those who are still working.

Methods: A national cross-sectional study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (NHANES). The main outcome was the proportion of retires versus nonretirees who were adherent to ideal or intermediate goals of the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7, cardiovascular factors including physical activity, healthy diet, healthy weight, smoking status, total cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure.

Results: Retirees were more likely than nonretirees to have poorly controlled blood pressure (23.9% vs 15.1%; P = .05). However, there were no differences in healthy weight, smoking rates, healthy diet, or glucose or cholesterol control (P > .05). In controlled logistic regression analyses, retirees were more likely to be physically active than nonretirees (odds ratio, 1.85; 95% confidence interval, 1.11-3.09), but were not more likely to be following any other Life's Simple 7 factors.

Conclusions: Retired adults were more likely to be physically active but were not more likely to be adhering to most of the Life's Simple 7 lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors. More public health attention to encouraging healthy lifestyles during the transition into retirement may be warranted.

Keywords: Cardiovascular Diseases; Cross-Sectional Studies; Exercise; Lifestyle; Logistic Regression; Public Health; Retirement; Risk Factors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • American Heart Association
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Retirement / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • United States


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol