KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
More Americans are working longer into their 60s and even their 70s, and that might actually be great for our health. NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff reports on a new study.
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF, BYLINE: When I read this study, the first thing I thought of was my father-in-law. For 45 years, Michael Doucleff Sr. has woken up before 2 a.m., turned on the fryer and started making donuts, baking bread, filling pies.
MICHAEL DOUCLEFF: I'm constant, constant, constant motion.
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF: Yep. Michael is a baker. And at age 70, he still loves his job.
MICHAEL DOUCLEFF: I think if you slow down and quit, just go to the fishing hole and fish, you just don't have that constant interaction that keeps you young, keeps you energized. It keeps you mentally sharp.
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF: Turns out Michael is onto something. The new study from the University of Miami shows that not retiring reduces your risk of chronic diseases and is linked to better mental health.
ALBERTO CABAN-MARTINEZ: There's something about remaining engaged in the workforce that seems to be protective for cognitive decline - so for example, maybe memory, you know, spacial memory - where I left things or remembering to do things.
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF: That's epidemiologist Alberto Caban-Martinez. He and his colleagues studied more than 85,000 adults over age 65. Blue-collar workers were 15 percent less likely to report problems like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. All workers reported better mental health. The study is in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease. It didn't show working causes better health, but Caban-Martinez says other research has shown that being active prevents problems as we age.
CABAN-MARTINEZ: Maybe, you know, the workplace or your employment is actually giving you some of this activity to keep you both mentally and physically healthy.
MICHAELEEN DOUCLEFF: And he says it doesn't take much, perhaps just getting up and making sure the bakery opens on time.
Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR News.
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