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Media Release: Life Begins At 40 - Or Does It?

Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score shows 40 to 49 year-olds are finding it tough

In 1983 the Kiwi band Dave & The Dynamos released their anthemic pop-ditty “Life Begins at 40”. It was an instant classic; number one on the charts for three weeks in a row and staying in the Top 40 for a whopping 22 weeks. Clearly the message of fun and frivolity for the 40-somethings resonated with New Zealanders in the 1980s. Can the same be said for Kiwi 40-somethings in 2015? Recent research suggests not.

According to the Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score, Kiwis in their 40s are finding life pretty tough, rating themselves as having the poorest sleep quality of any age group surveyed. And it seems that money is at the root of poor sleep with the majority of 40 to 49 year-olds citing worry about finances as keeping them up at night. It’s not surprising that this group has money on its mind given that almost 70% of Kiwis rate financial security as being vital to their financial wellbeing, yet only 9% of Kiwis in their 40s think they’re doing well in this area. They are also least likely to think that their jobs are stable.

An even larger issue for Kiwis in their 40s is that 84% are overweight and many do less than an hour of exercise a week. Combine this with the fact that people in this age group are the highest consumers of alcohol and have the worst diet out of all surveyed, and it appears there is an unrelenting circle where our 40 to 49 year-olds are stressed about finances and jobs. So much so that it keeps them awake at night with longer waking hours leading to overeating – which results in weight increases. Once you throw in the fact that many in this age group also over-indulge in alcohol it is easy to see how life isn’t so sweet for Kiwis in their 40s.

"New Zealanders are facing a tsunami of heart disease and this generation is not immune to it,” says Wellington cardiologist Dr Phillip Matsis. “The consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle is increasing one's personal cardiovascular risk. It is important that everyone 'knows their numbers' - blood pressure, cholesterol - and that they minimise alcohol consumption and keep an optimal weight and active lifestyle."

Cigna NZ Chief Marketing Officer, Suzanne de Geus says that the statistics regarding lack of sleep and anxiety about finances are definitely worrying, but no huge surprise given that people in their 40s are often attempting to balance ever increasing work commitments, a mortgage, preparing for retirement while also striving to make time to spend with their family. “The shape of family commitments also changes in this age bracket, 77% still have kids at home but more and more there is additional financial, emotional and time pressures associated with caring for aging and/or sick relatives,” says Suzanne. “As someone who is in their 40s, I was shocked to see the impact this is having on people in my age group, particularly when you look at the figures around alcohol consumption, weight and lack of exercise. I hope these results can start a wider societal conversation around the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s 40 to 49 year-olds, who are clearly feeling the pressure.”

The survey also found that 78% of people in their 40s don’t have any health insurance. “Any kind of insurance, no matter how small, can provide some peace of mind and help relieve some of the pressure,” adds Suzanne. “Looking at the results of the Cigna 360° survey and thinking about reducing the factors that are keeping our 40 to 49 year-olds awake at night, bill cover insurance* (which can help cover the bills if you can’t work due to an accident, illness or redundancy) is likely the most relevant kind of insurance for this age group given their concern about job stability.

Cigna’s Good Life Guide also contains tips on how to quickly and easily incorporate healthy habits into your life.”

The good news is that things are looking up again by the time Kiwis hit their 60s. In New Zealand, people 60 and over are getting the best sleep of their lives, enjoying a balanced diet, getting the most exercise and are only surpassed by Kiwis in their 20s for having a healthy weight. So maybe life really begins at 60!

Other key findings from the survey about Kiwis in their 40s include:

  • 78% are worried about the increasing cost of living and 57% are worried about the increasing cost of healthcare.
  • 9% think they will have sufficient money for retirement.
  • 95% say their most important relationship is with their children.
  • Cancer is their top health concern, followed by heart disease.
  • Almost 60% say that social media brings them closer to family and friends.
  • Nearly a quarter say that they can’t talk openly with their friends, and 6% have no friends at all.
  • 93% rate work-life balance as most important to their workplace wellbeing, with 59% perceiving that they do well in this area.
  • 27% exercise for three or more hours a week (The Ministry of Health recommends exercising for half an hour or more a day.)

*Find out more about Cigna Bill Cover insurance at www.cigna.co.nz/insurance-products/bill-cover

About the Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score

The Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score has been established as the first of an annual index that will continue to identify and monitor the factors, motivations, perceptions and attitudes that impact an individual person’s, as well the region’s, health, wellness and wellbeing. It is an independent study commissioned by Cigna and conducted by Ipsos that initially covers the APAC markets of Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Korea, New Zealand, and the UK. Data is collected online from a representative random sample of 1,000 people in each country, totaling 6,000 people. The New Zealand survey results provide insightful information that enables Cigna to better meet the needs of Kiwis with relevant products and service solutions at the various stages of their lives.