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Survey reveals changing attitudes to health and appearance as we get older

Thursday 19th September 2013

Men give up on their health and appearance at the age of just 46, while women keep up appearances for than a decade longer, a benenden health study revealed yesterday.

Women put the effort in a full thirteen years longer – focussing hard on their appearance and general fitness until at least age 59 before they start to relax their standards.

Men stop trying well before they reach the big 5-0 and are happier to cut out trips to the gym - four in ten said the most exercise they get comes from walking up the stairs.

The research, commissioned by the health & wellbeing mutual benenden health, found women were nearly twice as likely to lack confidence in their image with more than a third unable to claim they were at least content with their appearance.

In fact, a third of the 2,000 men and women studied blame a lack of happiness in contributing to their low confidence levels in the way they look.

Yesterday Paul Keenan, Head of Communications at benenden health said: “We regularly read in the news about how we are all living longer - thanks to improvements in medical science. But how many of us are taking proactive steps to ensure our basic health and wellbeing remains in shape as we grow older?

“Are we actually using healthcare services as a crutch to boost our longevity?

“Our survey suggests that maintaining our physical wellbeing into our later years simply becomes a lesser priority – influenced by wanting to relax in comfort and not have to keep up with trends. And men appear to ‘give up’ far sooner than women.

“The Department of Health promotes initiatives such as ‘Change 4 Life’ because it is recognised that a positive attitude to health and wellbeing throughout your lifecycle can help maintain good health in later years and reduce necessary visits to your GP.”

More than half of those surveyed said they aren’t in great shape physically whilst a third have never been the type to bother with doing exercise. Another third stop worrying about the food they eat and how much alcohol they drink.

Other factors contributing to letting health and appearance take a downward spiral were a preference for comfort over style and an increasing reluctance to keep up with anything deemed trendy or unfashionable. And one in four people were of the belief that keeping healthy and looking good costs too much money and is too big a commitment.

An acceptant seven in ten men don’t worry regularly about the way they look, while more than half said they don’t really take any pride in their appearance. That perhaps explains why one in three said they eat and drink what they like and don’t really consider health implications in regards to their diet.

And as well as giving up on appearances nearly half have a constant health nag they’ve been burdened with for a long time and have given up trying to heal or improve it.

Two thirds of people think it’s normal to give up on worrying about appearances once someone has a serious partner. And 53 per cent of those married echo those thoughts and no longer concentrate on their looks anywhere near as much as they did before getting hitched.

In fact, it takes a little over two years (26 months) after a wedding before the average person said they stopped bothering about their looks.

Paul Keenan added: “We know that many people do look after their health, wellbeing and physical appearance – but it’s shocking to see that a third have never been the type to bother with doing exercise and more than half think they are not in great shape physically.

“And what is the excuse? One in four people think that staying healthy costs too much money and is too big a commitment. But is this is really true when walking is free but cars cost money to run, or when water is cheap and alcohol prices are rising.

“We can’t rely on healthcare services to provide support constantly without also taking responsibility for creating the best possible environment ourselves for good physical health.”

Ends

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