Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A little work(out) never killed anyone

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Revelations of a poll by the Heart and Stroke Foundation will serve as a wake-up call for baby boomers hoping to live a healthy life well into their golden years.

The boomer generation has often been labelled as the entitled generation, which typifies what many boomers may be thinking -- that the good life in later life can be had with ease.

Not so fast -- the Heart and Stroke Foundation has other ideas.

According to its poll, 80 per cent of respondents described themselves as healthy despite 85 per cent not eating enough veggies, 40 per cent falling short on exercise, 20 per cent still smoking and 11 per cent drinking heavily.

According to Statistics Canada, 23 per cent of the Canadian population will be senior citizens by 2031, compared with 15 per cent in 2011. For many of the baby boomers who will make up that grey tsunami, a healthy, pain-free life will sadly be nothing more than a dream.

Baby boomers -- those born between 1947 and 1966 -- have a lot of work to do if they want a good quality of life when they start collecting pensions and senior discounts. As one cardiologist said, if they don't plan to ramp up their health regimen, their final decade could be spent in discomfort and dissatisfaction -- a long step away from the golf course.

The cardiologist, Dr. Beth Abramson, suggests the usual improvements to health -- eating better and less, regular checkups and reduced consumption of cigarettes and booze. But exercise is arguably the biggest factor.

Our culture is far removed from any strong connection to an agrarian lifestyle, where exercise was a matter of day-to-day life. You didn't even think about it.

Now, it has to be scheduled. Abramson says 150 minutes of physical activity a week is the recommended amount of exercise for boomers. It isn't a lot, but she says it will go a long way to keeping seniors strong and their quality of life high.

As the saying goes, a little work never killed anyone. That goes with health, too.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 12, 2013 A11

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