Boomers risk tarnished golden years

NANAIMO – Without immediate action, baby boomers may spend their last years in sickness, disability and immobility.

Canadian baby boomers have big aspirations for their golden years, but their current lifestyle choices could keep them from making these dreams a reality.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s 2013 report on the health of Canadians – Reality Check – warns that without immediate action, baby boomers may spend their last years in sickness, disability and immobility.

Although Canadians are living longer, according to Statistics Canada, on average, there’s a 10-year gap between how long they live and how long they live in health. This gap is mainly due to heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions.

A Heart and Stroke Foundation poll found that while almost 80 per cent of Canadian boomers think their doctors would rate them as healthy, their self-reported lifestyle choices show otherwise.

A huge majority of boomers reported not eating enough vegetables and fruit (85 per cent); more than 40 per cent are not getting enough physical activity each week; one in five (21 per cent) smoke; and one in 10 (11 per cent) are heavy drinkers.

While the large majority of boomers said they feel stressed at least sometimes, almost 30 per cent flag they are often or always stressed.

Despite these lifestyle habits, more than a quarter of Canadian baby boomers don’t feel concerned about how healthy they will be later in life.

And three quarters (74 per cent) don’t know that they can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 80 per cent with lifestyle modifications.

“The lifestyle choices that Canadian boomers are making directly contribute to living the last 10 years of their lives in sickness. This should cause boomers a lot of concern,” said foundation spokeswoann Dr. Beth Abramson. “The good news is that it is possible for us to take charge of our heart health, reduce hospitalizations and immobility, significantly improving the quality of our lives.”

Physical inactivity results in nearly four years of quality life lost. Everything counts, even gardening, housework or dancing with your kids or grandkids, getting off the bus or subway a stop early, taking the stairs.

The recommended amount is 150 minutes of moderate- to-vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, and it can take place in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Moderate intensity activities include brisk walking or bike riding. Vigorous intensity may mean jogging or cross-country skiing

The foundation launched Make Health Last to help motivate and support Canadians to live the lives they want in their later years.

Tips and tools on how to reduce health risks can be found at www.makehealthlast.ca.

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