June 29, 2011 Leave a comment
“Reducing working-age ill-health could save the UK up to £100 billion every year’. That was the government’s conclusion published at the end of last year in its white paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People. The paper went on to say that improving wellbeing in adults could reduce premature death and illness and eradicate a substantial proportion of cancers, vascular dementias and circulatory diseases.
Back in 2008 Dame Carol Black’s report, Working for a Healthier Tomorrow encouraged employers to take greater responsibility for the welfare of their workers, with the words “good health is good business”.
By all accounts, and perhaps rather predictably in these recessionary times, progress since then is reported as having been somewhat slow. To counter this, some interesting findings have emerged recently indicating that a surprising number of over fifties say they feel fitter and healthier than they did in early adulthood.
In a study of 1,500 over fifties conducted by insurance company Engage Mutual, 17 per cent stated that when it comes to health and fitness, they feel better than they did in their twenties. And over 70 per cent of ‘fit over fifties’ claim they now do more exercise and pay more attention to their diet.
67 per cent attributed their new found motivation to increase levels of fitness to a raised awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
The research indicates that the ‘fit over fifties’ eat far more fruit and vegetables now than they did in their early years. Only a fifth of them would have made sure they were having their recommended five portions a day 30 years ago – compared to an impressive 75 per cent today.
And of the people who feel fitter than in their twenties, the average exercise levels approach four times a week and include walking, swimming, cycling or attending fitness classes. Reasons for doing more exercise now? 29 per cent claimed they want to be fit and energetic for the sake of the grandchildren; 37 per cent are looking forward to an active and enjoyable retirement; and 23 per cent say exercise now makes up an important part of their social life.
If this is to be believed (and no reason why not) it sounds as if older workers, having seen the light themselves, should be considered for the role of wellbeing mentors in the workplace encouraging and supporting their younger colleagues to follow their example and look after their health.