David Beckham’s top tips for a healthy life: put that phone down, and talk to your family

The man who won 115 England football caps, has 54 million Facebook likes, and who’s family fortune is now worth a cool US$400 million, has a remarkably simple formula for happiness

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 September, 2018, 10:39pm

Former England football ace David Beckham has urged his Hong Kong fans to switch off their phones, and talk to their family more, especially over dinner, as he shared his top tips for healthy living on Monday.

He was in Hong Kong as an ambassador for insurance company AIA, Asia’s largest.

The 43-year-old is a father of four, who is married to glamorous former Spice Girls singer Victoria Beckham, and is now as much of a style and lifestyle guru as he is a former global sports hero who played for a handful of the world’s top teams and netted 115 international caps.

Yes, he’s got a lot to be happy about – but his formula for healthy living is remarkably simple.

“I really believe in the need for people to take small steps to make healthier decisions and take better care of themselves.

Smile every day, and at dinner with my family my phone will be turned off
David Beckham

“From my perspective, my motivation is my family. It’s always been about family, how to help them live a better longer life, to let our children do the same.”

And the keys to unlocking that?

“Smile every day, and at dinner with my family my phone will be turned off,” he says, with a smile of course.

“I think all exercise helps in having a healthy lifestyle. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to join a gym or commit to a football team; the simple things like going to the park, walking to school or taking the dog out can really make a difference and also you can spend quality time with your family,” he says.

“Becks,” as he is simply known to his thousands of adoring fans, shot to fame at a young age, playing for Manchester United between 1992 to 2003.

His paydays, however, really came into their own far beyond the pitch, through a number of high-profile sponsorships for commercial products ranging from sportswear giant Adidas to luxury watchmaker Tudor and clothing brand H&M.

In 2013, when he finally hung up his boots, he was ranked 8th in the Forbes list of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes, and 19th in the Forbes Celebrity 100 World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities.

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AIA has launched its “Vitality” programme to offer discounts on insurance premium and other gifts and rewards to encourage policyholders to do more exercise and live a healthier life, with Beckham as its poster boy.

The five-year-old programme now operates in 10 Asian markets – Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia – and has signed up a million participants, the insurer says.

“As Asians have become wealthier, they haven’t necessarily become healthier,” Stuart Spencer, group chief marketing officer at AIA, told South China Morning Post.

While the city ranked top in terms of longevity for both sexes, residents still report two major health issues adversely affecting their daily lives: air quality and overall happiness.

“Depression is an issue in Hong Kong. It ranks second lowest in terms of health satisfaction in the AIA Healthy Living Index 2018, followed only by Sri Lanka,” Spencer said.

“It’s stress, and there are a lot of challenges when it comes to enjoying a work-life balance. Hongkongers work very hard, they work very late, and may tend to overdo it.

“Our study showed people [in Hong Kong] only exercise for three hours a week and nearly 80 per cent of respondents thought doing exercise takes too much time.”

“As the largest pan-Asian life insurance company we’re concerned by increases in lifestyle-related diseases. We’re concerned by lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and alcohol consumption,” Spencer said.

He added AIA Vitality is squarely aimed at encouraging customers to adopt more healthy lifestyles, to live longer, by remaining healthy.

As the largest pan-Asian life insurance company we’re concerned by increases in lifestyle-related diseases. We’re concerned by lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and alcohol consumption
Stuart Spencer, AIA group chief marketing officer

The potential effects on AIA’s bottom line, of course, is more cross-selling of protection products, and cutting down on medical policy claims.

The company claims around 13 per cent of its customers who have joined the programme and adopted its lifestyle tips, have cut their weight to a healthy level.

And that’s where Beckham is taking centre stage.

After playing with the Manchester “Red Devils”, he had spells with Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and LA Galaxy, and in the process racked up a whopping social media presence: 50.9 million on Instagram, 54 million likes on Facebook and 6 million on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Earlier this year, he also starred in promo video for casino giant Sands Resorts Macau, although that rather backfired for the football icon, after he spoke in Mandarin rather than Cantonese, which is widely spoken in Macau.

Beckham and his business partners officially launched their own Major League Soccer team, Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami, in the US in January.

Estimates of he and his wife Victoria’s joint wealth hover around the £300 million (US$402 million) mark. In 2014, the power couple established Brand Beckham Holdings – an umbrella business to better control their numerous income streams.