Why we need to put as much focus on our retirement goals as we do our health and fitness

With a Prudential survey revealing we make more effort to protect our health than we do our financial futures, journalist Clare Johnston examines the reasons why and looks at what we can do about it.

It's small wonder that in an age where we are regularly exposed to health messaging, many of us feel the need to step up our efforts to improve our overall wellbeing and fitness.

A study carried out in July this year by Prudential discovered that among over 40s, 47 per cent are actively trying to improve their physical health.

It's a worthwhile goal indeed, but there is another aspect of our lives that is also vitally important for our futures yet often overlooked, and that’s our pension plans.

The same study revealed just three in 10 of us are taking steps to become more financially secure, yet almost four in 10 are concerned about their future when it comes to money.

Perhaps tellingly, a significant 58 per cent admit they rarely if ever check their pension savings - something that is essential if we are to plan properly for our later years.

Those findings are worrying because they support warnings by the World Economic Forum that major economies, including the UK, are sitting on a pensions time bomb with a massive retirement savings gap.

Their forecasts were based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's recommendation that savers should aim for a pension income of 70 per cent of earnings when they retire.

Here in the UK, the state will not be able to fund anything close to that amount - in fact, a further study suggested it would be closer to 38 per cent of income on average. The rest, plainly and simply, must come from our own savings.

Prudential's research was carried out in support of the world-class festival of cycling, Prudential RideLondon, in July, and aimed to highlight the need for over 40s to take small steps to achieve bigger goals.

Kirsty Anderson, retirement expert at Prudential, said while it's great news that many people are changing their lifestyles for the better, the same needs to apply to their financial health.

She said: "People are living longer but that is no benefit if they are unwell in old age, and the same applies to not having enough retirement savings to ensure you have a comfortable standard of living.

"Of course people cannot tackle all the issues at one time which is why it is so important to focus on a range of small steps such as regularly checking your retirement savings so that you can tackle the really big health and wealth goals."

And the good news for those of us who have yet to fully prepare for our retirement years is that in most cases there is still time to ensure we put enough away for our golden age.

So, it's worth taking a little time to find your current pension projections and seek advice on what's needed to safeguard your financial future. Once you've taken those simple steps, you can relax in the knowledge that the hard work you put in today will be paid off in full when the time comes to retire.