Researchers found the typical 'nifty fifty' is more sociable, happy and active than someone in their mid to late 20s. They are more likely to enjoy nights out, meet up with friends and travel further at weekends.
Experts worked out that a modern 50 year old goes out twice a week, catches up with four friends and has three weekends away a year. Whereas, they say, a typical 20-something heads out just one evening a week, sees three mates and takes two short breaks.
The trend has emerged as half of over 50s said their focus is on enjoying life to the full compared to three in ten 20 year olds.
The survey of 4,000 Brits was carried out by Benenden Healthcare, a mutual society which provides for families and individuals.
Yesterday, a spokesman said: ''This research shows those in their fifties certainly know how to live life to the full. 'The modern 50 year old spends more time than ever on things that boost their contentment in life and with life expectancy rising all the time, being middle aged is no longer a precursor to winding down. Those in their fifties are happier, socialise and explore more than those half their age and even appear fitter.
''Perhaps it's because peoples' priorities change over the years - with those who are older making time to do what they want, and able to reflect on what they have or haven't done with their life and so playing 'catch-up. 'It's easy for twenty-somethings to get caught up in the stresses and demands of a job, trying to get a foot through the door, but in doing so let other parts of their life slip by the wayside.
''It's important for people of all ages to maintain a good work/life balance and look after their health and wellbeing. But it's great to think that the older generation are showing younger people the way when it comes to enjoying a healthier and more exciting lifestyle.''
According to Benenden the over-50s are setting the pace well ahead of their younger counterparts and being 50 is definitely the new 25.
The study examined the lifestyle of 4,000 Brits nationwide aged between 18 and 75 on their level of happiness and different aspects of their life. It found that those aged over 50 ranked their contentment 7.6 out of 10 and came out top on everything, while those half their age rated themselves 6.5.
It emerged middle-aged Brits have at least one meal out a week, have at least three glasses of wine and exercise for nearly two hours a week. They have also jetted off to sunnier climates at least twice in the last year, taken up three times as many hobbies as someone half their age in the last year, and enjoyed three countryside walks in the last month.
But these figures are in stark contrast to those in their 20s who only manage two meals out a month, one holiday abroad a year and enjoy two glasses of wine a week.
They do just over an hour of exercise a week, have picked up just one new interest and venture outside on a country ramble just once in the last month.
The 50s put their active lifestyle down to 'feeling young' and making time for themselves, but the 20-somethings said they were too knackered to get out as much as they'd like to.
The study also found one in five over-50s are a member of a gym, and fork out nearly £400 more a year on going out, alcohol and day trips.
They've also taken fewer sick days off work, hit the sack later than those in their mid-20s and more than a third (36 per cent) reckon they're healthier than they've ever been.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Benenden Healthcare, added: ''We aim to promote good health and wellbeing to all ages, not just those who are older. Our members' magazine, Benhealth, contains a range of lifestyle articles for all ages and interests and our website www.benenden.org.uk is a healthcare portal with something for everyone.''