Living a healthy life has the most influence on how long – and how well – we will live. Yes, genetics also play a role, and it’s important for us to know our family histories. But if your parents have passed away, ask yourself if perhaps they robbed themselves of additional good years by smoking, drinking, eating the wrong foods, and not exercising. The length and quality of our lives depend much more on what we do than what our parents did – or didn’t do.
Herein lays a real irony. On the one hand, we boomers are expected to live longer and better than our parents, in fact remaining relatively independent into our eighties and perhaps even nineties. But on the other hand, government statistics and studies comparing us with the previous generation indicate that we’re more obese by age 40 (32% vs. 16%) and less likely to pursue good health habits. On average, a woman in her 40s today is 25 pounds heavier than one the same age in the 1960s (168 vs. 143 lbs.), and both men and women in their sixties today are at least ten pounds heavier than their opposite numbers were even a decade ago.
The first step is to look at our current lifestyle and take stock of our daily routine. We know that it comes down to proper diet, sufficient exercise, not smoking, avoiding alcohol in excess, and getting enough sleep. But if we’re stressed, too busy, prone to procrastination, or simply lack the will for whatever reason, we just don’t do it.
What’s the solution? For starters, we need a program to build muscle mass, particularly our core muscles to protect against back injuries and to retard the loss of bone density. A greater focus on nutritional needs is also necessary, and so we need to start relearning the basic food groups and start reading some nutrition labels. For example, magnesium plays an integral role in muscle strength, contraction and relaxation, and studies have found that higher levels of magnesium promote stronger hand grips and greater leg power. Magnesium can be had naturally from a variety of fruits, grain, dairy products and dark leafy vegetables.
So maybe the key is start with the basics and go slow. Discover what your Body Mass Index is and what a healthy weight would be for you, some exercise tips, getting started with cardio exercise and strength training, be aware of boomeritis and take a humorous look at growing old.