Just how old, or young, do you feel? As it turns out, most Americans feel younger than their actual age. And they say they’re making changes to live longer. But they’re not actually reaching the change needed, especially with the high level of awareness when it comes to healthy eating habits and physical activity.
Let’s take a look at two surveys that came out recently, and what you can take from their conclusions.
The Parade/Cleveland Clinic 100Survey
Parade (your Sunday paper insert) and the Cleveland Clinic surveyed 4,000 adult Americans earlier this year. The questions sought to find out how we feel about living to 100. Here are some of the highlights:
• 69% of Americans want to live to be 100.
• 89% expect to live at least to age 80; 55% at least to age 91.
• 72% of Americans feel younger than their age.
• 64% believe staying active is a top way to fight aging, followed by eating right, regular check-ups and getting enough sleep.
• 88% would exercise more to stay healthy and 45% would significantly change their diet.
• 64% are eating less fast food, 51% have tried cutting out sugar, 31% are eating a low-carb/high-protein diet and 19% are moving toward a vegetarian or vegan diet.
• 69% of Americans fear losing mental or physical capacities as a result of aging, followed by being a burden, running out of money or being alone.
So we fitness professionals have done a great job in educating the public about healthy aging: staying active is key to fighting aging, as is eating properly. And Americans have made (or attempted to make) positive changes in their eating habits. We want to live a long life, but fear dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, growing weak and losing our independence.
I get all that. So just how good are we really doing in making positive lifestyle changes? Let’s take a look at another study, the Sightlines Project from Stanford University. Looking at data from the past two decades, these researchers have concluded that the policies, products and personal behaviors to support living into our 80s, 90s and 100s are not yet widespread.
Here are a few highlights recently published from the Stanford study:
• More than 80% of Americans recognize that diet and exercise are important to living long, healthy lives.
• Almost one in two Americans under age 65 is exercising regularly.
Room for improvement:
• Dietary guidelines, as inferred by the percentage of Americans eating the recommended minimum amount of fruits and vegetables per day (five or more), are not being met: only 25% of all ages eat enough of these nutritious foods.
• Only 45% of 55 – 64 year olds and 37% of 65 – 74 years olds meet or exceed the recommended weekly “dose” of exercise (at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity).
• The majority of Americans are sedentary for a total of five or more hours per day, up in recent years. And 50% – 59% of adults between 55 -75+ years sit too much.
• Obesity, a significant risk factor for chronic diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, some cancers and chronic pain, is rising. More than one in three Americans under age 75 is obese.
• Four in 10 Americans do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep per day, increasing the risk for chronic disease and mortality.
The data is clear: you know what to do. Now look for ways to make it happen! Talk with your healthcare team, reach out to a Registered Dietitian, personal trainer or wellness coach to identify important health behaviors to change and ways to be successful in sustaining new lifestyle choices.
To discover other ways to improve your mental and physical fitness, give me a call!
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