While it used to be tradition to celebrate a new decade with a costly or unhealthy treat – some even ignore their birthdays completely – more and more people are embracing their 40s, 50s 60s and 70s by marking them with health and lifestyle resolutions.
New research by BUPA Health Clinic shows a growing number of Brits are opting to run marathons, dive into triathlons or even embark on a healthy new diet to celebrate their birthday.
According to the report – which polled just over 3,000 adults – 53% of us cut down on alcohol or went teetotal when we hit a significant age milestone, 50% booked in for a health MOT and 24% signed up for a competitive event like a 10K run or Tough Mudder challenge.
The healthy trend has been dubbed ‘The Zero Effect’ and shows a promising shift toward the nations’ desire to better their bodies as they age.
Sarah Wagland, 40, spoke to Lumity about her decision to celebrate her 40th by running a marathon.
“I felt like I needed to do something extraordinary. I knew I wanted a challenge that would push me beyond my physical limits and I needed conformation that turning 40 is just a number and anything is possible if you want it badly enough, so a marathon seemed like the perfect fit.”
Kate Stokes also wasn’t content to cry into her cake just because she was entering her fifth decade on the planet.
“I trained for a triathlon with my teenage son and we completed it together. The great thing is once it was complete I didn’t go back to my old ways, I’ve kept up the fitness and I’m looking for what I can do for my 51st birthday!”
Unfortunately the study also shows that these overhauls only last on average three years with 25% of Britons relapsing in the first 12 months.
So how can we change that?
“It’s important to push yourself to achieve something you’re proud of for your milestone birthdays but it’s also important to keep the momentum going afterwards” says Fit4mum founder Melissa Lorch.
“If you think that once you’ve run that marathon or completed your first 10k you’ll revert back to the old you, try to remember that there are nine more years until the next decade and you don’t want to waste them. Make some small, manageable changes you can stick to so that every day up to your 50th or 60th you can continue to be proud of yourself.”
The study found that these are the top 11 actions after a milestone birthday:
– Starting a new healthy eating plan
– Getting a niggling symptom checked
– Cutting down or giving up alcohol
– Getting a health MOT
– Joining a gym
– Going travelling
– Giving up smoking
– Seeking a better work/life balance
– Seeking help with a mental health problem
– Signing up for a competitive event
– Going vegan or vegetarian
If you think you can’t run a marathon for your 40th then you might want to be inspired by Sarah’s story or you can start small but put a spring in your step by following our beginner’s guide to running a 5k.