February 4, 2013 8:54 am
Updated: March 23, 2013 11:16 am

5 lifestyle changes to improve your heart’s health

The Opposition NDP is urging the Saskatchewan Party government to ensure seniors living in nursing homes get at least two baths a week.

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TORONTO – Canada’s population is quickly aging and looking forward to retirement, but will our golden years be marred with health concerns?

A new Heart and Stroke Foundation report released Monday suggests that without changing current lifestyle habits, today’s baby boomers will deal with sickness and disability in the last 10 years of their lives.

The organization’s findings mark the launch of its new Make Health Last campaign, meant to help Canadians lead better lives.

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The campaign’s ads are airing on television and radio across the country.

“The lifestyle choices that Canadian boomers are making directly contribute to living the last 10 years of their lives in sickness. This should cause boomers a lot of concern,” Dr. Beth Abramson, the foundation’s spokesperson said in a statement.

“The good news is that if lifestyle changes are made now, many Canadians can considerably reduce the effects of heart disease and stroke,” Abramson said.
Read the report here.

Take a look at some tweaks to your lifestyle that will contribute to your health in the long run.

Exercise

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More than 40 per cent of boomers polled said they aren’t getting enough physical activity each week. The report notes that nearly four years of quality life is lost because of lack of exercise.

Gardening, cleaning up the house, dancing with your grandkids or getting off the bus or subway stop a stop early makes a difference, the report’s authors note. Aim for 150 minutes of physical activity each week, in bouts of about 10 minutes or more.

Healthy eating

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An overwhelming 85 per cent of boomers polled admitted to not eating enough fruit and vegetables, a risk that can equal nearly three years of quality life lost, the report says.

Heart and Stroke officials recommend keeping a food diary, eating out less, watching your portion sizes and filling your plate with more vegetables and fruit while cutting back on sugary drinks.

Lowering stress levels

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Not only does stress add to your grey hair count, but it eats at your longevity. Make sure you unload the day’s stresses by talking to friends, family or a mental health professional. Unwind by exercising and take breaks to get away from it.

Quitting smoking

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Just over one in five baby boomers polled said they smoke. Within one year of quitting, the risk of dying from smoking-related heart disease is cut in half, within 10 years the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

List your reasons to quit, put more time between your cigarettes and set a quit date, the report suggests.

Cut back on drinking

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Baby boomers have their vices, too. One in 10 Canadian boomers concede to being heavy drinkers. Baby boomers should limit their intake to no more than two drinks a day to a weekly maximum of 10 for women or 15 for men.

Monitor your intake, watch for what triggers your drinking and alternate between alcoholic drinks and juice or water, the report suggests.

Read more about the Make Health Last campaign here.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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