Younger Australians putting their health first during pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted younger Australians to put their health and wellbeing first, new research has revealed, in what is seen to be a positive shift in attitudes towards health by the under 40s.

The Bupa Health and Wellbeing Pulse Report, launched today, found that health was top of mind for younger Australians, with 75% aged 40 and under saying they felt the need to start prioritising health over other aspects of their lives. Family households and women were also prioritising their health, wellbeing and self-care, but fewer men were doing so.

The research, which surveyed 1000 Australians in November 2021 by Quantum Market Research, found clear differences in attitudes and results when it came to how the pandemic impacted the different age and gender groups looking after themselves.

In particular, the under-40s:

  • Have needed more self-care in the past year than over 40s (68% under 40s vs 48% over 40s)
  • Have undertaken more self-care than ever before compared to over 40s (50% vs 42%)
  • Were more likely to have participated in at least one health-related activity in the past 12 months compared to over 40s (91% vs 84%)

Many Australians may be playing catch up for their professional health care appointments, particularly in lockdown states, if they haven’t taken advantage of telehealth appointments, to see their GPs, dentists, optometrists and other professionals, with 84% of respondents planning to book at least one health-related appointment before the end of the year.

Bupa Health Insurance Managing Director, Emily Amos, said the Bupa Health and Wellbeing Pulse pointed towards a more health-focused population, particularly among younger Australians.

“With a one-in-a-hundred-year pandemic upon us, COVID-19 has shone a light like never before on the health of our communities, families and our own health,” Ms Amos said.

“The upside of these results is that it shows younger people, who are often portrayed as thinking they’re bulletproof, have a genuine desire to be actively involved in their health care. In addition to more traditional health services, younger Australians are significantly more likely to use wellness services such as massage, natural medicine, yoga and health spas.

“Even during the pandemic, both during and after lockdowns, when they may not have been able to access all their usual health and wellbeing services, we’ve seen many younger people make conscious decisions to invest in their wellbeing such as drinking less alcohol, meditating and participating in online health classes,” Ms Amos said.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Australians aged 40 years and under were most likely to change their behaviour to improve their health, along with those with private health insurance. Under 40s were the highest demographic group to reduce alcohol consumption (35%) and participate in online exercise classes (19%).
  • The top health-related activities across all age groups in the past year were eating more healthy foods (55%), taking vitamins or supplements (45%) and getting more sleep (32%), reducing alcohol consumption (30%) and starting an exercise program (30%).
  • More than half of Australians (56%) indicated that they needed to engage in more self-care in the past year than ever before, with respondents from family households feeling they were most in need (69%), followed by those aged under 40 (68%) and females (63%), while men were less in need (49%).
  • With 60% of Australians postponing at least one allied health appointment, dentistry was the most delayed care (37%), followed by GPs (27%), Optician (16%) and Counselling or Psychology (15%).
  • Under 40s were more likely to book a counselling or psychology appointment this year or possibly next year (71% under 40s vs 48% over 40s) and more likely to consider booking a dietetics appointment within the same period (53% under 40s vs 36% over 40s).
  • Residents in lockdown states Victoria and NSW were most likely to have postponed medical appointments (61%) and (72%) respectively.
  • 84% of Australians are planning to book an appointment before the end of the year, with GPs topping the list for appointment seekers (70%), followed by Dentists (43%), Opticians (33%), Counselling or Psychology (19%), Physio (18%) and Cancer Screening (17%).

“It’s encouraging to see such a high percentage of people intending to book medical and ancillary appointments before the end of the year,” Ms Amos said.

“But the number of people planning to book cancer screening appointments remains low. More work needs to be done to ensure eligible and at-risk people are accessing cancer screening appointments without delay. We urge people to get this done as early detection plays such a key role in preventing a number of cancers.”

The latest APRA quarterly private health insurance statistics published on 21t November 2021 confirms that more Australians than ever before are opting for private health insurance. In the year to September 2021, there has been an increase of 1.8 per cent in the number of Australians with hospital cover. More than 14 million Australians now have some form of private health insurance.


  1. GP 70%
  2. Dentist 43%
  3. Optician 33%
  4. Counselling or Psychology 19%
  5. Physiotherapist 18%
  6. Cancer Screening 17%
  7. Chiropractor 14%
  8. Dietetics 8%


  1. Eaten more healthy foods 56%
  2. Taken vitamins of supplements 45%
  3. Reduced alcohol consumption 35%
  4. Gotten more sleep 34%
  5. Started an exercise program 29%
  6. Meditated 21%
  7. Participated in an online exercise class 19%
  8. Signed up to an online exercise program 15%


  1. Outdoor physical exercise 45%
  2. Indoor physical exercise at home 33%
  3. Massage 17%
  4. Natural medicine 14%
  5. Yoga 13%
  6. Joined a gym 11%
  7. Health spa 6%
  8. Personal trainer 5%

Please view the report here.

Source: Bupa Health and Wellbeing Pulse Report 2021