Monday 23 July 2012

• 52% of over 50s say they are overweight • One in five say their weight is their biggest physical concern, yet one in three do no exercise at all • Over a quarter of over 65s exercise for fun


A new study shows that the over 50s are open and honest about being overweight and say that this is a big concern for them, but most admit they are not inclined to put in the physical exercise needed to change this.  The study by Saga Health Insurance shows that 52% of the UKs over 50s say they are overweight, compared to 40% of people under 50, and a further one in ten feel that  they are very overweight. When it came to exercising just one in 10 over 50s exercises for the recommended five times a week and a third (33%) say they do no exercise at all.

It’s not just the over 50s who are lacking in exercise - 29% of all adults say they do no exercise in an average week.  The reasons people give for not exercising are really quite striking; 31% of over 50s say it’s because they have no motivation, a fifth (22%) say they are simply too lazy and one in ten (12%) say they have no time.  Whilst 37% of over 50s who do not exercise say it’s because they are physically unable to, sadly a shocking 30% of 18-24s say it’s because they are too self-conscious.

Typically, those that do exercise, do so once or twice a week for less than 30 minutes. By far and away the most popular form of exercise in the UK is walking, 55% say they have gone for a walk at least once in the last month.  Other favourite sports of the over 50s are swimming (13%) and cycling (10%).  Of those that exercise three quarters (74%) of over 50s do so to improve their health & fitness, 45% exercise to control or lose weight and 28% of over 65s exercise for fun.
Of course being overweight is not just about exercise – it’s also about what you put in and when it comes to healthy eating, the over 50s are much better than younger people. A third (32%) of over 50s eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, compared to just a fifth (17%) of under 50s. 

A significant number of over 50s however still like to have a drink and a cigarette.  A fifth (21%) of over 50s say they smoke.  The recommended safe limit for alcohol consumption is no more than 21 units a week for men and 14 for women**.  On average over 50s in the UK drink 9.5 units of alcohol a week, with men (11.7units) much more likely to drink than women (4.7 units).  One in seven (14%) over 50s drink more than 21 units of alcohol a week.

Roger Ramsden, Chief Executive, Saga Services commented: “Clearly there is still more to be done to improve healthy lifestyles across the UK, whilst the over 50s tend to get it right with healthy eating, what they appear to need is something to motivate them to exercise.”

This is where the Saga Health Club can help.  By joining the online health club free at www.sagahealthclub.com people can access a health assessment which provides an accurate and scientific evaluation of their lifestyle and looks at their future risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  All people have to do is fill out a simple questionnaire about their health, family history, eating and exercise habits.  The health club can then provide them with a 12 week action plan and regular updates with useful information such as exercise and nutrition tips to help them improve their health.


Notes to Editors:

*Populus interviewed 2,048 adults online between 11th and 13th May 2012. 960 respondents were over 50, and 488 were retired. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
** www.patient.co.uk


  % over 50s  % retired  % under 50s 
Are you overweight? - Yes   52 54  40 
 Are you very overweight? - Yes  10 
 I do no exercise at all in an average week 33  32  26 
 Why do you not exercise?


No motivation 31 28 38
No time 12 4 37
Too lazy 22 20 26
Physically unable 37 43 16
Too self-conscious 7 5 19
What exercise fo you do?
Walking 56 52 54
Swimming 13 11 18
Cycling 10 8 17
Why do you exercise?
To improve health and fitness 74 79 62
To control/lose weight 45 46 45
For fun 23 28 23
Do you eat five portions of fruit and veg each day? - Yes 32 37 17
Do you smoke? - Yes 21 16 34
Do you drink more than the recommended 21 units of alcohol a week? - Yes 14 16 8


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