Younger generations are exercising less and becoming more sedentary

Jun 18, 2020
Most respondents said they opt for light exercise, such as walking or yoga, over strenuous activities. Source: Getty.

A new study has found younger generations are exercising less and suffering from regular aches and pains at a surprisingly early age compared to their older counterparts, who grew up before smartphones and the Internet ruled almost every aspect of our lives.

The survey commissioned by Entity Health found 81 per cent of respondents said that the most strenuous exercise they do in an average week is light exercise, such as walking, yoga or backyard sport. While only a third (36 per cent) said they get more than an hour of physical activity daily.

While younger people are generally expected to be more physically active than their older counterparts, there are few differences between the age groups. The survey found that two-thirds (64 per cent) of under-40s exercise for less than 60 minutes a day. In comparison, 59 per cent of over-50s exercise for less than 60 minutes a day.

Meanwhile, 29 per cent of under-40s said they do at least 15 minutes of heavy exercises, such as running, cycling and weight training, in an average week. On the other hand, 10 per cent of over-50s do at least 15 minutes of strenuous physical activity each week. The survey also revealed that 36 per cent of under-40s are active for less than 30 minutes a day, compared to 31 per cent of those aged over 50.

And it’s no secret that a lack of exercise can lead to joint pain and stiffness, which can lead to a range of other health issues down the track. A staggering 80 per cent of respondents said they suffer from regular aches and pains, while 58 per cent of under-40s said they first experienced pain in their early twenties.

“The fact that young Aussies are already feeling joint pain, speaks to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of many in this age group,” Dr Stephen Lim, chief pharmacist at Entity Health, said. “This is concerning, as living a sedentary lifestyle can leave us feeling stiff with achy joints, as well as contribute to our risk of contracting more severe lifestyle-related health issues such as diabetes and obesity.”

He says it’s important to get your heart rate up for a minimum of two and a half hours a week to ensure your sedentary lifestyle isn’t contributing to joint pain and other health issues. In fact, research shows that as little as 30 minutes of exercise per day can reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and stroke, some cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia. It’s also good for your mind, assists in weight management and can improve bone health.

The survey comes after a previous study by Fitness Australia revealed that Baby Boomers are the nation’s most active generation, racking up 364 hours of physical activity each year. In comparison, their younger counterparts – people aged 40 and under – are averaging just 281 hours of activity each year.

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