I like to think that every generation learns from the prior generation and steps things up when it’s their turn. This one thing is for sure: I always thought that we knew more about being healthy than our parents did.
C’mon, look at us! We’re the gym-goers, healthy eaters, obsessed with our input as well as our output. We’re the healthy generation, the enlightened ones who know a thing or two about whole grains, too much salt, too little sleep.
Now, take our parents.
Did they know the difference between a crunch and a lunge? I’ll bet they never knew that regular exercise can keep your bones and muscles from wasting and lowers the risk of many diseases, including dementia. They probably didn’t know that foods like Twinkies and white bread (remember molding it into little round shapes that actually bounced like a ball?) could wreak havoc with your health, either. Do you think they ever asked the waiter to “please ask the chef to hold the salt” when ordering their Chinese food?
Well, turns out I was wrong. A new study of the health of baby boomers vs. our parents begs to differ.
We baby boomers may be living longer than our parents…but we have worse health than the previous generation.
How is that possible??
The Los Angeles Times reports that researchers compared answers from a large federal survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Boomers between the ages of 46 and 64 answered it between 2007 and 2010; their elders answered the same survey between 1988 and 1994, when they were in the same age span.
Here’s what they found:
Good news: We’re less likely to smoke, have emphysema or get heart attacks compared with our parents’ generation.
BUT…and there is a big BUT…
Here’s where we fall down. We have MORE:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol (about 74 percent of us have it, compared with 34 percent of our elders)
- Disability (The percentage of boomers who are disabled and need a cane or walker to get around is double that of the prior generation. Yikes!)
And here are a couple more that really surprised me:
- More than half the boomers surveyed reported they got no physical activity, compared with just 17 percent of the older group at the same age.
- The percentage of boomers who reported their health as “excellent” was just 13 percent compared with the older group, who reported it at 32 percent.
I think we can do better – a lot better.
It’s never too late.
Even if you start exercising and eating right in your 50s, 60s and beyond, you can undo some of the damage from years of neglecting your body. One thing leads to another.
For example, exercise is a big stress-buster.
And stress is responsible for a host of diseases.
How about this one? Eating better can reduce obesity.
And obesity is responsible for many health problems, including (and not limited to) diabetes and high blood pressure.
So c’mon, boomers!
Let’s prove the researchers wrong and do better – much better – than our parents did when it comes to our health.
Then the next generation will have a LOT to live up to.