Make a change now, it’s never too late

Last year the Heart and Stroke Foundation used “Make Death Wait” as their campaign slogan. A powerful statement that made us pay attention. This year they used “Make Health Last” as their slogan and ran a powerful television ad that also made us take note. It’s the ad where one side of the screen shows an older adult tying up running shoes and heading out for a bike ride. The other side of the screen shows the same older gentleman putting on slippers and being pushed in a wheel chair down the hallway of a nursing home. The message is, will you live your later years enjoying being active with family members or will you lead a lower quality lifestyle due to ill health. The ad states that the average Canadian will spend the last ten years of their life in sickness. The narrator encourages you to view to change your future. I checked, they have plenty of good information there. This heart and stroke web-site shows us 5 ways to make health last. You will also see the cost in years off your life by not following these 5 rules to better health. Inactivity will cost 4 quality years. Poor dietary habits, 3 quality years. Excessive, unmanaged stress, 2 quality years. Smoking 2.5 quality years and excessive drinking 2 quality years. Individually doesn’t seem to bad. Add them up, total cost is 13.5 years.

Many illnesses and diseases are not controllable but there is much we can do to improve our heart health to keep heart disease and stroke at bay. If you take care of your heart health, other health risks such as diabetes, osteoporosis, even that of some cancers will be decreased. You don’t have to run miles, push excessive weight, give up all food or drinks you love or live like a monk. You do need to quit smoking, be moderately active on a daily basis, learn how to reduce or manage stress, consume a healthy diet and enjoy alcohol in moderation. Don’t try to make all these changes at once. Pick the one that will bring the most success. Becoming more active has the best health benefit and may be the easiest thing to change first. Start with something you like to do. Walk, cycle, swim, attend a fitness class. Commit to the activity, or variety of activities and do it for a minimum of 20 minutes a day or about 150 minutes a week. Hire a trainer, get a workout buddy, go to classes, make appointments with yourself, do whatever it takes to keep at it. After a few weeks of activity on a regular basis, you’ll start to care about a healthier diet. Choose fewer high calorie, sugar, fat or salt foods and more fruits, veggies, fish and whole grain products. I’ve never been a smoker but I bet it’s not easy to quit. The lung association web-site has lots of info to help you be successful with that. Activity promotes quality rest which helps manage stress. Try yoga or meditation as well. The heart and stroke foundation suggests no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day for women or 3 for men. Not only will your heart benefit from moderate consumption but so will your waistline. Alcohol is stored around your middle.

Spend every moment of your later years not just alive but truly living.