Making an investment in your health is never a bad idea. Just like with financial planning, the earlier you start, usually the better your returns are later in life. While we all know that making good health choices is important for how we feel day by day, it appears that if your heart health is good in middle age, you’re giving yourself the best chance to lead a longer, healthier life.
Recent findings published in the journal Circulation found that an average of an extra 4 years could be gained by keeping your heart optimally healthy, compared to those who have at least 2 risk factors for heart disease. They also found that these heart-healthy individuals lived an average of 5 years longer without having any type of chronic disease!
Middle age may be a time where life gets its busiest – family demands, being entrenched in established work patterns, taking care of elderly parents, etc. But making sure there is time spent focusing on your health, by incorporating a proper diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, will help ensure that you’re able to maintain an optimal quality of life when the demands begin to diminish (everyone wants to enjoy retirement, right?)
Start Early, Benefit Now AND Later
The study followed 25,800 U.S. adults from the late 1960s and early 1970s for 40 years. By 2010 they were all at least 65 years old. When the study began, they were assessed on 5 parameters to determine their level of cardiovascular health. Those who were deemed “optimal” were of normal weight, not diabetic, had normal blood pressure and cholesterol, and did not smoke. Sadly, this was only about 6% of the study population. Over 75% had at least one of those risk factors that put them on the radar for future cardiovascular health problems.
When comparing the optimally healthy group to those that had 2 or more risk factors, it appeared that the aging process went much more smoothly for the first group. The healthier individuals:
- Spent more time in later age free of major diseases like cancer, dementia, and lung and kidney disease
- Went an average of 7 years longer before having heart disease or stroke, if it occurred
- Had lower overall Medicare costs, by around $18,00
What all this translates into is better quality of life in those “golden years”. Too many people neglect their health in earlier decades, maybe feeling invincible because they haven’t had a major problem yet, or that it “just won’t happen to them”. But years of not paying attention to what you’re eating (or how much) or smoking or staying minimally active in the exercise department could come back to bite you later on, leaving a much bigger hole to climb out of as the years continue to accrue.
Not only is incorporating good daily habits essential to attaining that optimally healthy category, but so is monitoring your health to know if problems may be creeping into the picture. Pre-diabetes and rising cholesterol levels are not something you “feel”. Having them checked at least yearly is the best way to know exactly where you stand. If there is a problem developing, you have the best chance at that point to take corrective action and get the numbers back in balance before someone is recommending you take a medication to do what you may have been able to accomplish naturally.
If you currently fall into one or more of those risk categories (overweight, smoker, diabetic, high blood pressure and cholesterol), the time for action is now! Especially if you’re approaching or are already into middle age. We have great programs to help you find the best way to reverse those issues and will run any necessary blood work to be able to help us assess just what level of risk you may be experiencing. You can then get started on a health improvement program, along with some professional guidance and monitoring, that can have you running into your golden years more gracefully.
And the more of those years that you can enjoy during this lifetime, especially ones that are free of major health complications, all the better!