POSTED: June 23 2016


Making small improvements and behaving as an ‘Everyday Athlete’ can improve life span by more than three years, according to Vitality, the health and life insurer. Based on analysis of 6,600 members over the course of 12 months, Vitality found that previously sedentary members who increased their activity levels to the Government recommended 150 minutes a week saw their life expectancy boosted by more than three years (3.1 years). Members who increased their activity levels to 90 minutes saw an increase of almost three years (2.7 years) and exercising just 60 minutes a week saw an increase of more than two years (2.4 years).

The research was calculated through analysis of each individual’s ‘Vitality Age’, an aggregate measure of wellness that evaluates the gap between physical body age and actual age. By surveying members before and after they made changes to their everyday behaviour, the data pinpointed the impact of behaviour on life expectancy.

Further research conducted by Vitality found the main barriers preventing people from taking part in sport or exercise include time constraints (31%), the expense (21%) and people not enjoying it (19%).

This insight is at the heart of Vitality’s new nationwide campaign, ‘Everyday Athlete’, which aims to inspire people to make small changes to everyday behaviour to realise long term health improvements. The Everyday Athlete campaign wants to show the nation that activity needn’t be time-consuming, expensive or unenjoyable and seeks to encourage people to understand the positive small steps that can be easily incorporated into everyday life.

The multi-channel campaign, which includes national TV and press advertising, launches from Monday 13th June. The TV advert will show a range of ordinary people doing everyday activities, such as walking up the escalator rather than standing, which can make a big difference to their overall health. The campaign is supported by Vitality Ambassador Jessica Ennis-Hill, who took time out of her busy Olympics training schedule to raise awareness of an issue that is close to her heart.

The Vitality analysis also found that rewarding physical activity has a direct impact on both kick starting activity and encouraging people to continue being active. Since introducing rewards such as cinema tickets and Starbucks beverages for completing exercise, more than a third of members (34%) who had previously been registering as inactive are now engaging in physical activity. This was even more profound for those members who were already active, with the introduction of rewards prompting a six fold increase in those reaching weekly activity targets.

Vitality Ambassador Jessica Ennis-Hill said: “I am delighted to support the Everyday Athlete campaign – it’s a fantastic way to spread the message about the benefits of health and wellbeing in a fun and inspiring way. I truly believe in the core message of the campaign, which is that everyone, regardless of their current health and fitness, can take small steps to live a happier and healthier life.

“Being an Everyday Athlete doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or climb a mountain, it just means changing everyday behaviours such as walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift, or getting off a bus stop or two early to walk the rest of the way to where you want to go. This campaign shows how easy it is for people to make small changes that can really benefit their short and long term health.”

Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, said: “Our analysis of more than 6,600 Vitality members over the course of 12 months reveals the direct positive impact that small changes to behaviour combined with rewards can make to long term health. It is extremely encouraging to see how people can increase their life expectancy through moderate increases in activity levels.

“Motivating and then rewarding people to exercise results in lasting health improvements, which is why we have launched this campaign. We believe everyone has the potential to be an Everyday Athlete.”

To support the Everyday Athlete campaign, Vitality has also announced a partnership with RAND Europe to conduct research into the long term health effects of moderate exercise. This research will be launched later this year and provide definitive insight into the impact of changing lifestyles in the UK.