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Live To a Ripe Old Age

January 29, 2016 5:37 pm Published by

Have you ever thought about what your life expectancy is based on how healthy you are RIGHT NOW?

According to Statistics Canada, the average Ontario resident will live to 80.4 years of age.

This “ripe-old age” is surely due in part at least to the high standard of living that Canadians in general enjoy, including universal health care and relatively easy access to a wide variety of advanced health care options.

But this statistic also begs the question – “What makes up that 80.4 years of living?”

Will you enjoy a full life of optimal health or will you live at some portion of your life with a disease, illness or injury limitation that significantly impairs your ability to live optimally?

If you look further at epidemiological data, two-thirds (2 out of every 3) of the adult population in North America is overweight or obese. The leading cause of death in Canada is cardiovascular disease (stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure) and the next most common health condition is type-1 diabetes. Cancer continues to be a primary health challenge.
Arthritis, joint pain, low volume of muscle mass and excessive body fat afflict many older adults, leading to lack of mobility, increased risk of falls, loss of balance and fractures.
Sleep apnea, COPD, and other pulmonary diseases decrease many Canadians quality of life through their middle age into their senior years.

Depression, addiction and a host of other mental health issues also appear to be on the rise.

We routinely report chronic, unmanageable stress along with lack of time to enjoy life, be active and spend time with those we care about.

As a young or middle-aged person, what can you do to ensure your 80.4 years will be as healthy as possible?

Will you live from age 45 or 55 or 65 with a significant life-limiting health problem? The onset of many health problems often begins much earlier than middle age and progresses slowly over time and only become symptomatic as we enter our 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

“What do most of these health issues and diseases have in common?
The fact that they are largely preventable.”

These diseases can typically be traced to our lifestyle…..the choices we make each day in terms of how much exercise and physical activity we get, the food we eat, how we choose to manage stress, our habits with alcohol, cigarettes or drugs, the quality of our sleep and our use of technology are all choices that become patterns that become habits that basically make up our lifestyle.

In addition to our lifestyle habits, one of the other major contributors to diminished health is our approach to health care. In North America, we tend to treat symptoms rather than causes. We take massive amounts of prescription and over-the-counter drugs for whatever ails us. We wait until we already have disease symptoms such as high cholesterol, angina, elevated blood sugar, excess body fat, heart palpitations or hypertension BEFORE we become willing to do something about it. And even then, in most cases, we only take a drug that manages symptoms, rather than making concrete long-term changes to improve our health.

Isn’t it at least a bit humorous and sort of pathetic that most people feed their dog or cat better than they feed themselves? Even if your dog lays around all day, he likely still gets more exercise than you do, statistically speaking.

So what do we do? Do we accept poor health and diminished enjoyment of life as the price we pay for living to a ripe-old age? Do we just make do and compromise? Do we just give in to the idea that “we’re too old” or “we’re too out of shape” or “we can never do that” or “that we don’t have enough time?”

Do you just become like everyone else and become a statistic?

Ask yourself – “Do you value your health?”

You will most likely answer “yes.”

Do you want to feel better physically and mentally?

What are you actually doing to REALLY keep yourself healthy? How well do you eat? Is your diet balanced? Is it mostly plant-based with adequate protein and intake of healthy fats? Do you eat more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day? (The average “healthy” granola bar can contain up to 3 teaspoons of sugar on its own).

How much do you exercise? If you don’t do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (moderate means you actually have to break a sweat!), you will NOT be healthy. This is not a myth or cliché. It is a scientific fact! In other words, your health WILL suffer. It is not a question of IF, but WHEN……The Heart & Stroke Foundation, Health Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the Centre for Disease Control, Canadian Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic….the list of organizations and groups advocating healthy lifestyle habits is much longer than your list of excuses or reasons for not being proactive about your health.

So, what will you do? Will you simply throw in the towel, let yourself go or give up?

Will you just carry on with poor health habits and hope you will be lucky?

Or, will you place a higher value on your health and take steps to improve your chances of living healthily for all of your 80.4 years?

Take it from me…..I am 48 years old…..my father died of heart disease at age 47 and my mother died of cancer at age 54. There is not a day that goes by where I do not value and safe-guard my health.

Don’t compromise. Don’t just accept poor health as part of life.

Take a step. Do something. Move forward. Get help. Ask for advice. See your health-care professional. Hire a personal trainer. Go outside right now and take a walk. Breathe! Laugh! Decide that you WILL value tour health and fitness. Make yourself better…..and not to steal a line from Home Depot, but “let’s do this!”

Steve Coons, B.Sc.H.K., Registered Kinesiologist, Co-Owner of Thrive Fitness & Part-Time Faculty Humber Institute of Advanced Learning & Technology. Specializing in Individualized Personal Training, Sports Conditioning and Coaching.