A&E approach to health preventing happier futures

Despite 96% of British adults aged 45-54 rating their physical health as important and over half (56%) saying they’d like to do more to maintain or improve it, over a quarter (26%) have failed to take proactive or preventive steps such as exercising or eating healthily to achieve this.

20 January 2017

Posted in Product

The research into the attitudes and behaviours of over 4,000 British adults commissioned by AXA Health also revealed that over a third (37 per cent) of those aged 45-54 say they’ve struggled with their physical health and, of these, 70 per cent reported that their mental health also suffered when this was the case. Yet, when asked why they hadn’t taken specific actions to maintain or improve their physical health, a quarter (24 per cent) of those who hadn’t taken action said they felt they didn’t need to, 19 per cent said they hadn’t got round to it and were too busy and 12 per cent said they felt it was too late for them and it wouldn’t make a difference or that they just didn’t want to take action.

Feeling unmotivated or deterred from doing anything to support their physical health suggests that an unhealthy minority of middle-aged Brits are adopting an A&E approach to health, preferring to deal with issues once they arise rather than taking preventive action. Indeed, half of respondents in the 45-54 age group admit they take a short-term view when it comes to their health – 26 per cent don’t tend to look ahead and 25 per cent look ahead less than a year.

Dr Chris Tomkins, Head of Proactive Health at AXA Health, comments: “While it’s great to live in the moment, where health is concerned it’s important to look ahead and be proactive. Lifestyle changes at any age – including small steps such as taking a walk at lunchtime instead of sitting at a desk, eating more vegetables or learning a new skill to keep your mind active – can help you feel better in the short-term as well as facilitate a longer, healthier and happier life.”

The research also revealed that some Brits are not comfortable opening up to their loved ones about their health, which may be an additional barrier to positive lifestyle changes. While 69 per cent of those aged 18 or over in a couple said they’d feel comfortable talking to their partner about their physical health, this indicates around a third would not. Lack of openness could be preventing people from realising their current potential as well as picturing and planning for their future.

Dr Tomkins continues: “Conversations about health worries to acknowledge that something might not be right are key to ensuring good physical wellbeing. While some may think that ignoring a problem will make it go away, burying your head in the sand can mean you’re not getting the help you need soon enough or that you aren’t taking steps to prevent an illness from getting worse. Addressing health concerns sooner and planning for our future health means we’re more likely to be able to live the life we want to for longer.”

To find out more about planning for your future health visit AXA Health’s Ageing Well Centre and join the conversation using #OpenUp.