Why a milestone birthday could be the turning point for many ‘healthy’ returns
Reaching a milestone birthday is a cause for celebration, it’s also a turning point as you pass into the next decade.
It’s also a time for change, a time when we reflect, reassess our lives and look towards the future. Bupa Health Clinics has found out some interesting facts about how we respond to these birthdays and dubbed our ‘milestone’ behaviour as ‘The Zero Effect’.
Your 50th birthday is a time when you start to question everything, I know I did. As 50th birthday cards came through the post, so did details of a walk-in bath, a chairlift, and funeral planning. Was that really the future - so soon? It made me realise that I had to ensure I remained fit and healthy to avoid needing any of these services for many years to come. And now was the time to make changes.
I’m not alone in stopping and being hit with The Zero Effect in my fifties, research carried out by Bupa Health Clinics found that just over half of the Britons polled booked themselves in for a health assessment as they started to take their health more seriously. Forty-six per cent took on new challenges such as joining a gym, and 27% took on a new physical challenge and almost a quarter of people surveyed became vegan. The majority (62%) started a new healthy eating plan.
At 50 I promised myself I would do just that. I promised I would stick to a healthy diet, as well as exercise daily, cut down on caffeine, and allow myself enough time to relax and get more sleep.
Challenging the perceptions of ageing
I was surprised by the perceptions society has of people in their fifties. Rather than giving up, many people are just discovering their true selves, their talents and abilities. They are ready to put their life skills into practice and they want to be fit and well to do so.
I must admit to reflecting how far I had come and wondering what the future would hold. I wanted to challenge the perceptions of ageing and started to look for places to gather information on how to look good and feel well as I got older. At the time I couldn’t find one place that spoke to me as the person I wanted to stay as in the future. This is why I created ‘Fighting Fifty’, a platform to offer reliable advice for ageing well. I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to remain independent and well into old age, not only for the website, but also for me personally.
Being in control as you get older
It would be wonderful to see into the future, to know what the years ahead hold for us. We know that prevention is better than cure and with a little insight we can make the changes needed to live better as we get older.
A Bupa health assessment helps give you that insight, a way of knowing what’s really happening in your body. We may be over worrying but we need to be very aware of our new ‘vital statistics’, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and keeping a check on our weight, especially as we get older and metabolism starts to slow down. By being aware and knowing what’s happening on the inside we can make the necessary changes to live a full and active life in the future. And best of all, you don’t need to have health insurance to attend a Bupa Health Clinic, you can pay for each appointment or treatment.
Change for life
The report by Bupa Health Clinics also found that unsurprisingly, more men than women chose to take part in a competitive event. But, interestingly, men make changes to their lifestyles later than women. We start making changes when we reach 30 and men tend to make theirs at 40.
What this research has shown me is that I’m not the only one who is prompted by age to start taking health more seriously. However, the study by Bupa Health Clinics shows the changes only last on average three and a half years, although a quarter of Britons (25%) relapse within the first 12 months. Only a handful (5%) maintain their new regime for eight years or more.
As the Bupa expert says, it shouldn’t just be ignored for the rest of our decade, so I fully intend on keeping my promises.
Jake Williams, Lifestyle Health Adviser at Bupa Health Clinics, says: “Entering a new decade is one of the many triggers that can prompt us to think about our health. In our clinics, we often see customers coming in for a general health assessment shortly before or after turning an age ending with a zero. This is supported by our research which found many of us book a general health assessment and get specific health concerns checked – a third (32%) see a physio and a quarter (24%) visit a dermatologist.
“However, while taking stock of our health is something to be embraced and encouraged, it’s important we don’t ignore health for the other nine years of the decade. One of the most alarming stats in our report showed that 54% saw a medical professional about a symptom they’d been ignoring when they hit a milestone age. Anything unusual or concerning should be checked and dealt with as soon as it comes to your attention.”
Here are my top tips for staying healthy throughout your life:
- Keep on top of your health, get regular check-ups and be aware of your new ‘vital statistics’
- Move. Make the effort to be as active as possible every single day. Walk, leave the car behind. Stretch, swim, join a gym do everything you can to keep moving. It’s good for your body and your brain
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Wherever possible cook from scratch, it’s far more pleasurable than opening a packet!
- Follow your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked. Don’t leave little niggles until they become big problems. When in doubt check it out!
- Take a break. Afford yourself some time off. Put down the phone, switch off the television, get up from the computer. Go outside, read a book, practice mindfulness. Above all else be kind to yourself
- Stop smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption. What you could get away with when you were younger no longer applies
- Wear sunscreen. If you want to look as young as you feel, protect your skin
- Sleep. A well-rested mind and body copes so much better than a tired one. Establish a good bedtime routine and stick to it
There are over 50 Bupa Health Clinics across the UK offering a range of trusted health services.
This article was sponsored by Bupa Health Clinics, the words and views are my own
The research by Bupa Health Clinics surveyed 3,000 people over the age of 16 and was commissioned by Bupa Health Clinics and carried out by Censuswide in April 2018