Health & Fitness

Boomers in Poorer Health Than Elders

Alan-FeatureBoomers have constantly challenged the status quo. There are over seventy-eight million boomers born between 1946 and 1964. As they’ve marched through each stage of life, they have changed it.

However researchers from the West Virginia University School of Medicine and the Medical University of South Carolina have discovered that not all changes boomers have made are for the better. They examined survey responses from boomers who were in their mid 50’s from 2007 to 2010 and compared their answers to those who were in their mid 50’s during 1988 through 1994. In other words, they compared boomers to their parents.

Their conclusion is that boomers may live longer than their parents, however they are less healthy. For example, only 13 percent of boomers rated themselves in excellent health compared to 33 percent of their elders. Boomers are more obese than their counterparts and suffer more from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.

Not only that but boomers don’t exercise as much. Half of their elders said they exercised regularly compared to only 35 percent of boomers. More do not exercise at all (52 percent) as compared to their elders (17 percent).

File:Obese woman-Louvre-CA968bis mg 7494.jpg
Clermont-Ganneau Mission, 1898

The study author states, “Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age.”

In an era where most boomers are seeing their dream of early retirement disappear and the need to work past the traditional ‘retirement’ age, these results are worrisome. You wonder whether boomers will be able to work longer and if they will need to scale back and work part-time because of ailments.

Unfortunately I see these exact conditions in my boomer friends. I watch them deteriorating. Recently, a fellow that I’ve known since kindergarten was at the Ottawa Heart Institute. Stress led to him having water around the heart. He was hospitalized for a month and was off work for longer.

The good news in this is that many of these chronic conditions are results of lifestyle choices and can be alleviated through proper diet and exercise. And that is the key. A healthy lifestyle is a choice you make. Most with chronic diseases benefit from changes in food consumption and mild exercise like yoga. For sure, diet and exercise cannot cure all conditions. For example, my pituitary tumor won’t go away. Making appropriate lifestyle choices can optimize your health and well-being.