Health, wealth and worries weighing on Kiwis

Health, wealth and worries weighing on Kiwis

Financial worries, alcohol and work pressures are some of the leading factors as to why Kiwis are adding years to their age.

More than 1200 Kiwis used an online tool developed by health professionals to show how we are faring on the health front. The research reveals how everyday habits impact New Zealanders health outlook in years showing a national average of two penalty years.

Penalty years don't necessarily tell you how long you will live, but gives a gauge on your outlook for life if you keep living the way you are. It's vice versa for bonus years, which shows you have a more positive outlook.

The tool analyses key physical, mental and behavioural components to calculate penalty years or bonus years. At the extreme ends of the scale, people are hitting 20 penalty years and 10 bonus years, while the average is two penalty years.

Men fare better than women, with their average penalty years being 1.2 compared to women with 2.2 years. Men also registered the highest levels of physical fitness, job satisfaction and social life, while women fared better than men when it came to strength of relationships with family and enjoyment of life.

The research, from Healthy By Sovereign, shows we are becoming healthier in our old age however, with penalty years decreasing the more birthdays we celebrate.

In the regions, Bay of Plenty, Manawatu and Canterbury are all tied with the highest percentage of residents with more than 10 penalty years.

Other findings include one in 10 Kiwis smoke (12 percent), and almost half of the respondents have gained one to 10 kilograms over the past 10 years. Over a quarter of those asked (27 percent) say they have four or more drinks in one session, up to three times a week.

Money worries topped the list of stress disruptors for Kiwis, ahead of family, health, work and even personal problems.

"Stress is a difficult thing to define but we're all subject to it," Warriors and former All Blacks doctor John Mayhew says.

"People under stress...It has a direct impact on their physical health."

He says the research highlights the areas where we might need to pay more attention.

"I think we need to have an overview of our own lives and look at what are the pressure points in our lives," Dr Mayhew says.

"We've got to be able to deal with the financial stresses, the family stresses."

Nearly half of the respondents say they work 40 or more hours each week,  a third get under seven hours sleep on average each night and 48 percent say their health has impaired their work performance in the past three months -- with men more likely to have taken time off due to injury or illness.

You can use the online tool to calculate your penalty and bonus years here.