This is the time of year when we observe World Health Day (April 7). Which raises the subject of baby boomer behavior to stay healthy. According to Dr. Alison Moy, longevity expert and medical director of Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, sometimes our positive attitudes about nutrition and wellness don’t jibe with our behavior. She has five tips for BoomerCafé.
World Health Day each April brings attention to the causes and consequences of high blood pressure which, according to the World Health Organization, affects 5 in every 10 people in their fifties. Yet a recent survey conducted by Liberty Life found that 77 percent of baby boomers rate their physical health as either good or excellent, and 50 percent say they feel as healthy as they did five years ago.
But when it comes to health and wellness, actions speak louder than words, and the reality is that less than half (46 percent) of those surveyed are exercising at least three times a week. Although exercise is only one indicator of overall health and well-being, three-quarters of those surveyed considered physical fitness very important to them. So what can you do to move from intention to behavior? Five key changes can make all the difference:
- Be proactive. Don’t wait until you feel sick to forge a meaningful relationship with your doctor. Know your body weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol. Ask your doctor about using self-monitoring tools such as wearable devices and smartphone applications to track your progress toward improving your health numbers.
- Be social. Many self-monitoring tools will connect to social media or online communities, allowing you to share your fitness accomplishments with others. Studies have shown that people who network and receive support for reaching goals are more likely to achieve sustained success.
- Be attentive. Understand food labels and avoid items with too many ingredients. Also look for stores with better labeling systems like NuVal®, which make it easier to gauge the nutritional value of packaged food. NuVal® weighs the amount of “good” ingredients, such as vitamins, fiber, and iron, against “bad” ingredients, such as fat, sodium, and sugar-– assigning each food a score. The higher the score, the better the product’s nutrition. For example, choosing unsweetened shredded wheat at breakfast with a score of 91 over an English Muffin with score of 21 can help you start the day on a healthy path.
- Be realistic. Make behavior changes specific and accomplishable-– start small and build up. For example, rather than striving to work out at the gym daily, start by taking the stairs at work, not the elevator.
- Be happy. Bring a positive attitude to every situation you face. Research has found that personality and outlook can play a role in how long people live. A study in the Journal of Aging found that people who reach 100 have several personality traits in common, including high conscientiousness, openness to experience and a positive outlook on life.
For more tips on living a longer, healthier life, you can visit Liberty Life’s online resource, Be Well for Life.