When most people start to worry about their health

In the lead-up to turning 40, we seem to know that our bodies have started to decline.

In the lead-up to turning 40, we seem to know that our bodies have started to decline. Photo: Getty

A new survey has found that most people don’t start worrying about their health until the age of 38.

The survey, commissioned by health insurance company Bupa, found this shift toward thinking about one’s health was often prompted by a health scare.

That could be a blown achilles tendon during a football game with mates. Or a spike in your blood pressure or cholesterol. Or a weird little growth on your nose. Or you suddenly notice a few aches and pains and an overall decline in fitness.

But even without a scare, most respondents said 38 was the age that their thinking about their bodies had changed.

More about the survey

This was a UK survey of 2000 adults carried out by OnePoll. But most Australians will identify with the main trends.

Eleven per cent of respondents, at any age, don’t take their health very seriously.

Nearly half didn’t think about it at a younger age, because they felt fine.  More than a third felt they were too young to need to worry about it. A quarter felt that nothing bad would happen to them.

Inevitably, older respondents (84 per cent) feel they took their health for granted when they were younger. Some of these regretted not taking more care of their health.

There was also the usual regrets about poor diet, drinking too much, and allowing stress to overwhelm them.

You can relate, right?

Despite all this regret, four out of five Brits are happy enough with their physical health. Or turning that around, 21 per cent of respondents are unhappy with their health.

This matches with a 2018 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report found that more than four in five Australians aged 15 and over rated their health as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

This was despite the fact that 63 per cent of adult Australians were overweight or obese. Which is interesting.

Pushing 40 is the point

But let’s get back to the age we start worry about our health: 38. Why then?

Some had a health scare, but others didn’t.

What 38 means to most people is … the age of 40 is looming. You can prance about all you like and call 40 the new 30, but physiologically it’s not.

The forties are when you begin to show signs of ageing. You’re not old. In fact, you can be very fit. Most people should be very fit.

But you’re not as strong or fast as you were. Sprains and other injuries take longer to heal. Skin cancers will emerge. For women, perimenopause begins. Osteoarthritis will start to bite. Your eyesight tends to decline. Chronic illness becomes more common.

Maybe a revelation at 38 is your body talking to you.

One thing’s for sure: It’s at this point you need to see the doctor more often, for check-ups. It’s the smart thing to do.

Here’s what you need to do

The federal government’s Department of Health and Aged Care, via an online advice service, suggests:

  • Every year have a dental check-up
  • Every two years have a heart disease risk assessment, and a blood pressure check
  • Every three years have a diabetes risk assessment, and an eye test
  • Every five years have your cholesterol and lipids tested. Women should have a cervical screening test
  • At regular intervals have skin cancer checks, and have a depression risk assessment.
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