Recession increases unhealthy lifestyle choices

British workers are cutting down on exercise, eating less healthily, and smoking and drinking more because of the recession.

Research by PruHealth has recorded a two point decline in its bi-annual Vitality Index survey since July last year, which tracks the nation’s health trends across stress, exercise, diet, smoking, health knowledge and check-ups.

Nearly a fifth of UK adults admitted to living unhealthy lifestyles – an increase of 4% in just six months, it added.

The number reporting they felt under a great deal of stress had increased from 38% to 40% in the past six months. Half of these also felt their stress was affecting their personal life.

The number reporting they now never exercised had increased from 11% to 14%, with more than a quarter blaming increased work commitments.

Just as worrying, the percentage of adults eating a healthy balanced diet had dropped from half to 47%, with the perceived cost of exercise and healthy eating driving more people to cut both out of their daily routines.

Shaun Matisonn, chief executive at PruHealth, said: “Not only are increased financial and time pressures taking a toll on our stress levels, but they are also having an impact on the amount of exercise people are doing and the content of our diets too.

“However, it’s a lack of health self-awareness that is the key issue,” he added. “Three-quarters of people see the health of themselves and their loved ones as a key priority, but for the majority, it would take a diagnosis of ill health to motivate any significant change of lifestyle.”

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