Adults don’t start taking their health seriously until they turn 40

Monday, 1st February 2021, 1:46 pm
Updated Monday, 1st February 2021, 2:03 pm

A recent survey of 2,000 adults, commissioned by wellbeing and supplement brand Healthspan, found 63 per cent of people have only now reached an age that they’ve started to become more concerned about their health, and want to make more of an effort to improve it.

But one in 10 don’t start taking their health seriously until they turn 40, with more than a quarter acknowledging that they were over 51 before they started to feel this way.

Four in 10 (42 per cent) initially started taking notice of their health when they didn’t feel as energetic as they used to, and 31 per cent found they couldn’t lose weight as easily as they used to.

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Others became concerned after feeling breathless going up stairs (20 per cent), being prescribed statins (12 per cent) and a doctor commenting on their health (nine per cent).

High cholesterol affects millions

It’s estimated that around half of adults in the UK have high cholesterol, with 7-8 million people currently taking lipid-lowering drugs such as statins.

Of those surveyed, seven per cent of women have been prescribed statins. Statin drugs lower cholesterol by blocking an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) in the liver. This enzyme is also needed to make ubiquinol so that blood levels fall by around a half within eight weeks.

Dr Sarah Brewer, Medical Director for Healthspan, says: “Women experience different side-effects with statin drugs, for example, with more muscle aches and pains than men which may cause them to stop treatment.

“These findings were not highlighted in clinical trials due to the small number of women involved.

“The lack of ubiquinol may contribute to the muscle side effects and tiredness that some people experience when taking a statin.

“So taking a supplement such as ubiquinol may help to reduce these unwanted side effects without affecting the cholesterol lowering benefits of statin treatment, according to a study in Molecular Aspects of Medicine.”

It's never too late to change

Almost two thirds of the respondents (63 per cent) agreed that it’s never too late to start looking after themselves and taking their health seriously and 62 per cent have felt somewhat or a lot more motivated to improve their health since the beginning of the pandemic.

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Ameet Bakhai at Spire Bushey Hospital working with Healthspan added: “It’s never too late to start looking after your heart health, as well as your entire body and mind.

“It’s one of the needless misconceptions in the world that ‘it’s too late for me, I’ve already had a heart attack, it’s downhill from here,’ which is rarely the case.

“The difference between recovering well from a heart attack and recovering poorly is between 7-10 years of additional lifespan or being there for your grandchild’s university graduation.

“If you meet me at 60 with a heart attack, my job is to get you to 85 without further problems.

“The difference often lies in a positive approach, wanting to share, wanting to query, wanting to know your numbers - asking the rehabilitation nurse or pharmacist about your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and keeping those down and the step count up.

“That’s the difference between 7-10 years of lifespan and adhering to your medications.

“Even if you have a heart attack at 80, it’s not too late. We should be able to get you back another 5 years of life by avoiding a further attack.”

“What would you do with an extra 7 years of healthy life?” I often ask patients.”

Lacking motivation

Finding the motivation especially during lockdown is  proving difficult with 56 per cent  stating they struggle to motivate themselves when it comes to improving their overall health, blaming their dislike of exercise (41 per cent) and healthy food (23 per cent).

But two fifths (41 per cent) of Brits say they don’t enjoy exercise, with a third (33 per cent) saying they just never have enough energy.

Personal trainer Christina Howells said: “Making time to be physically active is one of your most effective tools for strengthening your heart muscle and how well it pumps blood through your body.”

Creating an exercise ritual can help with consistency, schedule exercise on the same days and times each week so it becomes part of the weekly routine.

Christina added: “Just walk, each step you walk you will travel further down the path to a healthier heart, you want to aim to walk briskly for 30 minutes or more a day.

“Start at a comfortable pace and aim for shorter times, and gradually increase your walking longer and faster.”

As for what worries Brits about getting older, nearly half (49 per cent) are concerned about getting ill and 54 per cent worry about physical deterioration.

However, 43 per cent are eating more fruit and vegetables to try and increase their lifespan or improve their health.

Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition at Healthspan, said: “Making sure you eat five a day is one small change you can make to significantly improve your heart health. In the UK only 30 per cent of people manage to eat five a day but it’s really not as hard as you think.

“Try turning this into grams rather than portions which means 400g - you can get at least half of that in a stir fry made with chopped peppers, onions and broccoli.”

Even swapping your cooking oil to olive oil makes a difference, Rob explains: “Olive oil contains cardio protective polyphenols which help to reduce inflammation in the body.

“The type of fat found in olive oil is called monounsaturated and this helps heart health by lowering non-HDL cholesterol (bad) and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol in the body.”