Stay productive to live longer

Studies have found that continued engagement in social and productive activities is good for us. Whether it includes working as a craftsman or painting with friends, productivity’s effects on longevity and mental health are clear.

Retirement offers freedom to do whatever one pleases—which sounds like a good deal on paper—however, even through retirement, the importance of continuing to engage with the community, partake in activities and remain productive cannot be overstated. 

What does productivity mean? 

Productivity is defined as producing or giving rise to a positive result, stemming from the late Latin word product, or “brought forth.” A study conducted on elderly Americans investigating the impact of social and productive activities on survival found that being productive lowered the risk of causal mortality rate just as much as fitness activities did. The study suggests that, in addition to physical fitness, aging individuals can benefit from work that requires interaction and problem solving, playing games with others or making art in a group.

The impact of participatory arts

Another study specifically exploring the impact participatory arts have on aging individuals demonstrated that activities such as music, singing, drama, dance, storytelling and visual arts can increase feelings of confidence and accomplishment, as individuals embrace new and positive aspects to their identities and life roles. Moreover, it showed that participatory arts helped counterbalance the mental health difficulties that came with periods of loss, and in individuals with dementia, improved cognitive functioning, communication, memory, enjoyment of life and creative thinking.

What does it mean to age well?

As numerous populations age across developed countries, it’s becoming increasingly important to not only think about how to live well as an elder, but also how to design communities that welcome and thrive off the engagement of all generations. This could mean lowering the barriers for aging individuals to participate in the labor force for as long as they choose, or designing living spaces and urban plans to encourage social and productive engagement. How are we thoughtfully and intelligently sustaining quality of life, at every age?