The study followed the lifestyle behaviours of 25,000 Australians including physical activity, diet, sedentary behaviour, alcohol use and sleep patterns.

"According to our research retirement was associated with positive lifestyle changes," said lead researcher Melody Ding, from the University of Sydney.

According to the study, retirees increased physical activity by 93 minutes a week, decreased sedentary time by 67 minutes per day and increased sleep by 11 minutes per day.

The researchers have also found that 50 per cent of female smokers stopped smoking. The differences were significant even after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, urban/rural residence, marital status and education.

There was no significant association found between retirement and alcohol use or fruit and vegetable consumption.

Ding said retirement gave people more time to pursue healthier lifestyles. "Retirement is a good time for doctors to talk their patients about making positive lifestyle changes that could add years to their life," she said.

The study was published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine.

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