Older staff healthier and fitter than younger colleagues

Many employees in their 60s are healthier and fitter than colleagues in their 30s, according to research by Pruhealth and Mercer.

Britain’s healthiest company report, which surveyed nearly 10,000 UK employees, found that the average Vitality Age (or health age) of respondents in their 60s is 3.9 years older than their actual age.

Respondents in their 30s and 40s have a higher Vitality Age difference, at 4.26 and 4.3 years, respectively.

Pruhealth’s Vitality Age calculator estimates years of life lost or gained by taking into consideration the presence or absence of certain clinical and lifestyle risk factors.

The research found that the biggest contributing factors for an older Vitality Age are lack of physical activity and being overweight. Nearly one in six (59%) of respondents do not do enough physical activity.

Dr Katie Tryon, head of clinical Vitality at Pruhealth, said: “It’s interesting to see that the Vitality Age difference is not necessarily higher for those who are older.

“Those in their 30s and 40s, who should be at the prime of life, are letting their health suffer, perhaps prioritising a stressful job, or having to manage the pressures of new parenthood or both.

“There are simple ways to bring down your Vitality Age: eating healthily, looking after your body by not smoking or drinking too much, and by losing excess weight. Doing regular exercise is paramount, but this doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon.”

John Anderson, UK market business leader for health and benefits at Mercer, added: “Having multiple generations in the workplace is a challenge for modern employers, and not something benefits programmes have had to historically contend with.

“Over the last year we have seen unprecedented demand for flexible benefits programmes to allow employers to remove duplication and inefficient benefit spend. Health needs are no different, and are becoming a greater part of modern flexible benefits programmes.

“It’s important for employers to provide choice and to provide options for employees to remain healthy in a way that fits in with their lifestyle.”