PruHealth research suggests that the old adage of 'being over the hill' in later life may need to be revised as the stresses and strains of modern life are hitting the younger generation the hardest.
PruHealth says that today's 20-somethings feel three years older than their birth certificate states and the average 30-something feels their actual age, but the average Brit aged 40 plus feels 11.5 years younger than their actual age.
20-30 somethings seem to have energy levels closer to those of retirees. More people in their 20s and 30s have a dip in their energy levels throughout the course of the day than any other age group, while 12% of 30-somethings don't feel energetic at any point during the day at all -compared with only 6% of people in their 60s.
The research highlights how people in their 20s and 30s live unhealthier lifestyles than those in their 40s and 50s, which could be the reason for the younger generation's sluggish energy levels and feeling older than their years. The top three reasons for lower energy levels are an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and not getting enough sleep. Little appears to be being taken to counteract this with only 47% saying they eat a balanced diet, 18% never exercise, and a quarter sleep for less than 6 hours a night.
The older generation tends to follow a more balanced diet, eats less unhealthy foods such as takeaways, and participates in a similar level of exercise compared with the younger generation. As the over 40s require less calories than the under 40s this could be the key to their youthfulness. The NHS advises older people may need to eat less than they used to if they are less active. A major reason for age-related weight gain is the slowdown of metabolic rates.
People of all ages who feel younger than their real age are more likely to feel most energetic in the morning, while those who experience a peak in energy levels in the afternoon are more likely to feel older than their actual age.
Shaun Matisonn of PruHealth says: "While it is wonderful to see that the older we get, the better we feel, the energy levels of those under 40 clearly needs more attention. This age group need to get more exercise and more sleep, eat healthily and follow more active lifestyles to help boost their energy levels."
Private medical insurance: News update: 13 October 2009