'Always On' culture is driving Britain's bad body relationship

21 December 2016
Almost half of the population ignore signs that their body needs a rest, just because they’re concerned they’ll miss out.

Despite feeling unwell, tired or under the weather, the majority of people pressure themselves professionally or socially at least once a week thanks to Britain’s ‘always on’ culture. The trend was uncovered in a new report by Bupa Health Clinics. 

When asked how they’d react to seeing a friend looking or behaving a little off-colour, 75% of participants said they’d check if they were okay, 40% would suggest they see a doctor and 22% would advise making time to relax. 

However, when it comes to their own bodies, Britons are failing to show the same level of care. Half of people deal with stress by ‘powering through’, a third have worried about an ailment but not got it checked and nearly a third never make time to review their lifestyles and make changes for the better.  

Philip Luce, Bupa UK’s Health and Dental Clinics Director said: “When it comes to our bodies, we ignore signs that something is wrong and regularly push ourselves into something we don’t feel like doing. 

“The most surprising finding in our report is 52% of people admit they have a bad relationship with their body. But despite being aware of poor habits, the vast majority still take good health for granted.  

“The fear of missing out on something great came through as a major influence. Concerns that skipping a work function could affect promotion, or staying in could result in missing the best night out in history, means we’re not giving our bodies the break they need. 

"That's why we’ve created a ‘Guide to being Best of Bods’. It’s there to encourage people to be kind to their body – to think of it as a friend – and ultimately lead a healthier, more productive life as a result.” 

The report commissioned by Bupa Health Clinics to understand attitudes to maintaining wellbeing found that a fifth of people ignore signs that they’re playing or working too hard all the time and 49% do it occasionally. 

Overall, men are much better at finding time for themselves than women, spending two hours more relaxing each week than women do. Men also socialise with friends for 1.5 hours longer than their female counterparts, and spend seven hours doing something just for themselves every week, compared to women who spend just five hours doing the same. 

Philip Luce continues: “Think about your relationship with your body as a bank account; if you keep making withdrawals and don’t make any deposits, at some point, your bank account will be overdrawn. 

“The risk of not making any deposits - not making time to check in with your body - is that something may be doing damage without causing symptoms. Examples are things like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can quietly damage the body's organs and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes without causing any symptoms early on.”

 Bupa offers health assessments that give the body a full MOT, looking at a variety of factors including fitness, weight, musculoskeletal, blood sugar, liver function and more. 

Prices start at £176 – less than 50p a day (spread across the year) – www.bupa.co.uk/health/health-assessments

Additional findings from the research include: 

 - Only 9% invest time making sure their body is well looked after 

- Only a fifth (21%) feel as though they look after their body enough to justify their lifestyle 

- A quarter admit to taking advantage of their body and good health 

- 38% of us say we could look after our bodies better 

- 9% hold the belief that they’ll start looking after themselves soon and want to enjoy life while you can

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

We employ over 78,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland, and many more through our associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

For more information, visit www.bupa.com

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