Pursuing the ultimate beach body?

Maybe Mum's methods really are best

If your list of life goals often includes having a leaner, healthier physique, then our new research about approaches to activity has revealed that older generations may have the answer.

The 2,000-participant study1 exposed strikingly different approaches to exercise and getting outdoors across generations, with over 50s typically far more active than those aged under 30. This was especially noticeable amongst women.

Why get down and active?

Our survey pinpointed motivation for the under 30’s:

  • 40% of women under the age of 30 said the main motive for exercising was to lose weight or maintain shape
  • Only 13% of over 50’s gave the same motivation
  • 31% of women under 30 preferred gym sessions (only 8% preferred outdoor activities)

Sophie Wright, 28, from Leeds, admits that exercise is often not a priority: “I sit at a desk all day and often end up working overtime, so squeezing in exercise can be a real struggle. I make sure that I attend a weekly aerobics class and I also monitor my steps throughout the day with my Fitbit, but I know I’m not active enough.

“For me, exercise is mainly about keeping off the pounds especially in the run up to holiday season. If I feel that I am struggling for time to exercise I will watch what I eat for a week instead.”

The over 50s are looking for a healthy lifestyle

Our survey showed:

  • 35% of women over the age of 50 said they recognised the importance of a healthy lifestyle – against 17% of women under 30
  • Only 8% of this age group have a gym membership, and yet day-to-day the number of steps and active minutes achieved was higher
  • 29% of over 50s active are for 30+ minutes every day, versus only 22% of under 30s.

Liz King, 51, from Kent, has completed over 50 marathons and 17 Ironman races. She turned her hobby of running into a career six years ago when she started her business, Tri Spirit Events. She said:  “I train for triathlons which I've been participating in, on and off for the last 30 years. I specialise in Ironman - I did my first Ironman race when I turned 40. Last year I came second in the Kent Cycling Association time trial and I also raced in Austria and Mallorca.

“Keeping fit and active at my age is great - I feel I keep shape more now than I did when I was younger.”

Small changes could mean less risk to health

Commenting on the research, Cris Kellett, Consultant Physiotherapist at Progress - The Cambridge Centre for Health and Performance at Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital, said: “Looking at the research, I fear that many under 30s don’t really understand that exercise is not only to be undertaken to address stress-relief or body-mass.

“The 18% of under 30s who sit all day are putting themselves at the greatest risk of all. They need to consider immediate changes, for example standing during phone calls and walking to colleagues' desks to speak to them rather than sending another email.

“I also believe everyone should be encouraged to exercise outside as there are both psychological and physical benefits to ‘green’ exercise that we just don’t get in gyms.”

A positive challenge

Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director at Portafina, added:

“This is something we discuss a lot with clients. Most people can expect to stay healthy and active as they get older, particularly if they take care of themselves from an earlier age, so they need to be planning early to fund a longer and more active life when they start taking their pensions.

“This is a different and positive challenge. The upside is that, planned well, getting older becomes something to look forward to.

“Younger generations could learn a lot from over 50s, whose attitudes to keeping active are far healthier. It’s not always about chasing that summer body but laying foundations to create the future lifestyle you want.”

Good health and secure finances go hand in hand when preparing for a full and happy retirement. At Portafina we offer financial guidance and advice with no obligation. Take a look…

Call 0800 304 7288 for a friendly chat about your pension

Important information

1 Independent survey of 1,000 under 30s, and 1,000 over 50s, undertaken by TLF Panel in December 2016

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