This is the inaugural year of the "United States of Aging" survey conducted by The National Council on Aging (NCOA), UnitedHealthcare, and USA TODAY. The surprisingly good news from the nationally representative sample of men and women 60 and older is that a stunning majority of today’s older Americans not only give themselves high marks for their current health status but are strongly optimistic about what the future holds for their health. However, backing that up with action turns out to be another story. Here are the stats:
More than 25% of the survey respondents 65 to 69 said their health is better than normal.
75% of those 60-64 expect their health to get better or stay about the same over the next five to 10 years.
70% of those ages 65-69 and 66% of respondents ages 70 and older also expect to stay healthy or get even healthier.
92% say they manage stress very well or somewhat well.
84% say they are confident that they will be able to do what is needed to maintain their health over the next five to 10 years.
So far, so good. But let's look at what Boomers are actually doing to stay healthy:
Only 52% say they exercise or are physically active at least four days per week.
25% report that they are active only one to three days per week.
One in 10 respondents admit that their exercise or physical activity is limited to just a few days each month.
11 % are never physically active.
Commenting on those results, Rhonda Randall D.O., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, said, “It’s encouraging that so many of our survey respondents feel confident and empowered to maintain their health as they age, but it’s important that this positive mindset doesn’t prevent them from taking the necessary steps to counter the epidemic of obesity among our senior population, such as exercising most days of the week to help maintain a healthy weight. With appropriate preventive care and lifestyle changes, growing older doesn’t have to mean living with chronic diseases and disability."
Translation: Get up and get moving! Lip service to maintaining good health just doesn't cut it. Wow! We're not usually that bossy here at ThirdAge but those statistics are a real call to action. We know how difficult it is to fit exercise into busy schedules because, well, we have busy schedules. And, yes, we are too often guilty of skipping our own exercise regimens. Let's make a joint pact to find ways to make an active lifestyle a reality. Possibilities: Get up early and walk before work . . . sneak out to the gym on your lunch hour . . . make a deal with another caregiver to spell one another so you'll each be free for some me-time activity . . . workout to an exercise DVD before dinner . . . jump rope with the grandchildren.
Who's in? Good. It's a deal!