06 Jan Coming of Age: Is the Millennial Generation our Healthiest Generation Yet?
Pic from hivesociety.com
Millennials grew up in a time of rapid industrial and technological change, shaping their priorities in a vastly different way when compared to generations before them. With growing financial debt from an accredited four-year university and below average disposable income, they are pushing previously upheld priorities like marriage and home owning. Average home-buying ages are turning from 25 to 45 and median marital ages are turning from 23 to 30.
Instead, millennials have been setting their sights on a different set of priorities: fitness and health. When asked what their definition of healthy was in a “What’s Your Healthy Survey” conducted in 2013, over 20% of the millennial generation said it is a daily commitment to eating right and exercising, compared to the 12% of baby boomers who agree. Millennials are more willing to emphasize eating right and exercising in their daily routines, and are using all online resources available to help them on their path to overall wellness. From free apps to wearable technology like the FitBit, millennials receive quick access to all information on full body workouts, to how many calories a medium sized Fuji apple has. On the retail side of fitness, the millennials have also embraced the athleisure fashion, causing a surge in Lululemon leggings sales.
Does this mean the millennial generation is actually healthier then groups that preceded them? Let’s look at the facts.
- They are gym rats. It is no secret that the obesity rates in the U.S. have increased dramatically in the past decade. However, this does not mean that the millennial age group is also feeling these adverse health effects. In a study done by Gallup, the age group of 19-35 saw a 0.6 percent drop in obesity between 2008-2015. This could be due to the fact that rates of daily exercise have increased significantly among Millennials, while remaining stagnant amongst all other generations.
- Smoking isn’t the new black. While the nation’s youngest consumers have historically been proven to carry the highest rates of smoking. The Millennials and Generation Xers, however, have sparked America’s drop in smoking over the past several years. These two generations have reduced their smoking rate twice as fast as the generations that preceded them.
- A stressed mess. According to a study conducted by The American Psychological Association, over half of Millennials surveyed reported their stress kept them awake at night, compared to 37% of Baby Boomers, and only 29% of Millennials claim they are getting an adequate amount of sleep. These high-levels of stress have already started to take a toll on their mental health. 44% of Millennials reported irritability and anger from their rising stress levels.
- Blame it on the booze. Whether it is to combat the negative effects of their stressors, or at their next overcrowded house party, Millennials are bigger drinkers than their older counterparts. According to a report generated by the Wine Market Council, millennials consumed 42% of all the wine consumed in the country last year- that’s about 159.6 million cases of wine! 25% of this generation claims they drink in response to high money stress conflicts in a study done by the American Psychological Association.
Each generation will have their own unique shortcomings and virtues. As we see here in the millennials, they may appear to be healthier now, but the changes in priorities and high levels of stress that lead to binge drinking can lead to some damaging outcomes in the future.