Why 50 has become the age the average Brit gives up on their health

Brits give up on health at 50
(Image credit: Getty)

Maintaining our health and wellbeing is a lifelong journey.

From diet and exercise to activities that support our mental wellbeing such as meditation (opens in new tab), there’s very little we won’t do to keep our minds and bodies in tip top condition.

But now new research has revealed that Brits are actually hitting the pause button on all of the above at the age of 50 – and the reasons why may come as a surprise.

In the nationwide study of British over-65’s carried out by leisure operator Everyone Active (opens in new tab), 50 was revealed as the age most Brits give up on taking steps to improve their health and wellbeing.

A staggering 78 per cent of the over 65s questioned said they had thrown the towel in on doing enough exercise to maintain their fitness levels.

A further 9 per cent of Brits in this age group said they spent the majority of their day either sitting or lying down, while 19 per cent said they don’t do any physical exercise at all. It comes as no surprise then that just 34 per cent of those questioned admit to feeling fit and healthy.

In fact, rather than looking positively towards their health and wellbeing (opens in new tab) future, 79 per cent admitted that they would love to go back in time and urge their younger selves to take their health and wellbeing more seriously. 36 emerged as the age the average Brit felt the best physically.

But it seems that while some over-65’s aren’t being proactive about their health currently, the study reveals that many wish they could exercise to be stronger and fitter as they age.

MORE:The best exercises for your age, whether you're 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 (opens in new tab)

Many also understood the benefits that exercise could bring to their lives. 46 per cent said that doing more exercise would make them feel good about themselves, while 40 per cent it would help them enjoy more of their life. 37 per cent said it would improve their mental health (opens in new tab), while the same percentage felt it would help them sleep (opens in new tab) more soundly.

Further insights from the data show over-65 men are more likely to hit the NHS exercise guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking (opens in new tab) every week than over-65 women. This was 26 per cent compared to 18 per cent.

Additional figures from the study showed over 65s across both genders would even be willing to hit the gym, to get on top of their fitness, but only in the following circumstances:

  • If classes were run aimed at the older generation (40 per cent)
  • If classes were being run by someone of their age (21 per cent)
  • Being able to afford it (33 per cent)
  • Being able to attend the gym with a friend (13 per cent)

If you’re keen to improve your fitness levels, try the tips below:

  • Find your nearest Green Gym (opens in new tab), which will help you work up a sweat as you volunteer for various conservation projects.
  • Visit U3A.org.uk – the interest-led organisation for those in their ‘third age’ (opens in new tab) – and search for fitness groups in your area.
  • Download the Active 10 app (free, Apple Store and Goggle Play) which shows how much brisk walking you're doing and how you can do more.

Miriam worked for woman&home for over five years and previously worked on the women's lifestyle magazines Woman and Woman's Own.