Baby Boomers feel fitter and healthier than their younger Generation X and Millennial counterparts, according to an in-depth survey conducted by a leading mobility and daily living aids provider.
With 14.7 million people in the United Kingdom estimated to be aged over 60 years (almost 23% of the population) and the number of those over 65 rising by 278,800 per year, the country is looking at an increasingly older population. As a result, access to healthcare is becoming more limited and many are realising the importance of staying active as they advance in years to remain healthy for as long as possible.
In order to better understand how the nation views fitness and diet, including how different generations feel about their own health, NRS Healthcare ran a survey of 14 questions.
The questions were divided into two topics:
· Fitness: How people choose to work out, how often and how important they believe exercise to be.
· Diet: How different generations define their diet, the different types of diet they have tried and whether they take vitamins to maintain their health.
The age groups were divided into three commonly known social generations for the purpose of this study:
· Millennials: 18-35 years
· Generation X: 35-55 years
· Baby Boomers: 55+ years
When asked how they would define their overall fitness, Baby Boomers came out top: 86% of this group described themselves as "average or above" in fitness, whereas 72% of Generation X, and only 69% of Millennials gave the same answer.
It is clear that being both healthy and strong are deemed more important as we reach the later stages of life and begin to realise how poor health and fitness can affect our daily lives. When asked "How important is being physically strong to you?", 100% of Baby Boomers said it was important as compared to 97% of Generation X and 92% of Millennials.
Baby Boomers also spend more time exercising, with 43% stating that they exercise most days and 29% of these committing 6-10 hours on exercise weekly. This compares to 24% of people from Generation X saying they exercise most days and only 21% of Millennials; in fact, 45% Millennials said that they spend only 0-1 hour exercising on a weekly basis.
The favourite ways to work out across the generations is quite varied, but all age groups agree on one thing: walking is always a good way to get exercise; 46% of Millennials, 42% of Generation X and a whopping 72% of Baby Boomers gave this answer.
Lexi Lomas, digital content manager at NRS Healthcare, discussed the survey, and said, "With the busy, online lives that many younger generations lead, it's easy to understand why they feel their fitness may be lacking in areas. Walking featured highly in all generation groups as a way to exercise, particularly for Baby Boomers where 72% agreed walking is their favourite way to work out – so Millennials may be able to take cues from the older generation and incorporate more walking into their busy lives."
The general perception of how healthy their diets are differs across the generations: 100% of Baby Boomers responded that their diet was healthy, whereas 79% of Generation X and only 72% of Millennials gave this answer.
Reponses to which diets have been tried were hugely different across the generations. The most popular diet for Millennials was the 5:2 with 28% answering this; for Generation X, it was Slimming World (36%); for Baby Boomers, 52% cited the Atkins diet. Interestingly, Millennials have tried far more diets than any other generation, with 22 diets featuring in their answers – the vast majority of these were classed as "fad diets", including juice cleanses, teatoxes, low carb diets, Lean in 15 and the raw food diet. In contrast, Generation X responded with 10 diets and Baby Boomers with only 5.
Although 100% of Baby Boomers referred to their diet as healthy, only 72% admitted to eating breakfast every day. Breakfast was most important to Generation X, 77% of whom have it every morning, compared to only 54% of Millennials. Millennials and Generation X also take the most vitamins, with 45% of both age groups answering that they do, compared to only 28% of Baby Boomers.
Speaking of the study as a whole, Lexi commented:
"It was a happy surprise to see that so many of the older generation feel their fitness and diet is above average and healthy. It is a commonly held fear that aging means we are less able to take part in the things we like to do, including participating in activities we enjoy and having a varied diet. This survey has helped show that older generations today understand just how important it is to keep fit and active as they advance in years. However, but it has also revealed some insecurities in the younger generation of Millennials who have shared that they do not pursue as much physical activity as, perhaps, they should, and who experience the pressures of their generation in trying every fad diet under the sun in an attempt to feel healthy."