However, Dr. Hugo Westerlund of Stockholm University in Sweden also finds retirement does not change the risk of chronic illnesses such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease.
Westerlund and colleagues say the study of 11,246 men and 2,858 women in France who were surveyed annually from 1989 to 2007 -- seven years prior to retirement and seven years after retirement. Seventy-two percent retired between the ages of 53 and 57, but all retired by the age of 64.
In the year before retirement, 25 percent suffered from depressive symptoms and 7 percent were diagnosed with one or more of respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
"If work is tiring for many older workers, the decrease in fatigue could simply reflect removal of the source of the problem ... furthermore, retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise," Westerlund and colleagues say in a statement.
The research results "indicate that fatigue may be an underlying reason for early exit from the labor market and decreased productivity, and redesign of work, healthcare interventions or both may enable a larger proportion of older people to work in full health."
The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.