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No time for health and wellbeing, say office workers

Published on 30 June 2015 12:01 AM

Office workers are too busy to take time out for health and wellbeing activities that could benefit them now and in later life, finds new research by Age UK and Bupa.

The survey found that 35% of people whose work is solely or mainly office based, spend just an hour or less on physical exercise per week, with nearly 1 in 10 admitting (9%) they do no exercise at all.

 

Activities which can have a positive impact on wellbeing, such as reading a book or doing a crossword, are also being squeezed, with nearly half (48%) devoting just an hour or less every week to such activities.

Taking time out to manage stress comes at the biggest price for time-poor office workers, with 52% admitting to spending no time at all on mental wellbeing activities such as practising mindfulness, meditation, or other stress relieving activities.

Despite the toll stress can take on the mind and body now and in the future, just under a third (27%) make an effort to recognise the signs of stress and take action to deal with it.

Office workers, however, are trying to find ways to incorporate healthy activities into their daily lifestyle, with 53% opting to take the stairs instead of the lift and 33% making time to visit friends and family part of their daily routine.

We want to be healthy in later life

The good news is that among the general UK population there is an appetite to prepare for a healthy later life, with 65% of people surveyed saying they would like to make changes to their current lifestyle to prepare for a healthy later life.

Of those who are taking action to follow a healthy lifestyle, almost two thirds (64%) are doing so to reduce the risk of any future health conditions. Among the worries people have about growing older, dementia was revealed as the top concern (55%), followed by physical ill health (52%) and loss of mobility (48%).

The findings come as Age UK and Bupa launch a partnership which sees the organisations come together to help more older people to live well, age well and love later life.

Laurie Boult, Head of Fundraising at Age UK, said: 'Research has shown that looking after our mental wellbeing is just as important as protecting our physical health when it comes to ageing.

'While genes have an effect, 75% of the factors that lead to longer life are within our own control, like lifestyle and nutrition. Everyone can take steps to help them age better and it's never too early or too late to start. That's why we're working with Bupa to empower people to lead a healthy life now and support older people to do the same.'

Richard Adams, Chief Nurse at Bupa UK, comments: 'It's really important that we all take steps to think about how our everyday actions could affect our health when we are older.

The good news is that it's not difficult to make simple changes that can have a positive effect today and help us all live longer, healthier and happier lives in the years to come.

'As well as employees thinking about their health, we would urge employers to create an environment where their workforce can take time to lead healthy, active lifestyles, and lead by example. The risks of not thinking ahead are high - dementia, diabetes are just two examples of diseases that are potential outcomes of unhealthy lifestyles.'

For office workers feeling the squeeze on time to dedicate to their health, there are lots of fun ways for people to get fit, keep active and help improve their physical and mental wellbeing. Age UK and Bupa have reviewed existing academic studies and research to compile 10 tips that can help maintain healthy ageing - benefiting both physiological and cognitive health. These tips can be found at www.ageuk.org.uk/ageingtips.

Age UK has been chosen as Bupa's strategic charity partner in the UK, and all aspects of Bupa UK will be getting involved, from employees to customers and beyond. The healthcare specialist and its more than 32,000 employees will be raising funds and volunteering for Age UK with the aim of raising £1m over the next two years to support thousands of older people across the UK.

Last updated: Oct 06 2017

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