EDITORIAL: Eat well and exercise, too

After a season of over-indulging, many Canadians will wake up Jan. 1 and say this is the year they get heart-healthy.

After a season of over-indulging, many Canadians will wake up Jan. 1 and say this is the year they get heart-healthy.

That wake-up call to become more active and eat better can’t come a moment too soon, according to the Canadian Medical Association. The CMA’s latest report on the nation’s heart health says we’re not doing very well — in fact, we’re almost on life support.

Across the nation, fewer than 10% of Canadian adults meet the criteria for “ideal” cardiovascular health, which means most still don’t get enough exercise (at least 30 minutes of walking per day), and most don’t eat properly (consuming five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day). People are getting heavier and we see this everywhere, and in our own waistlines, which seem to expand with each passing year.

But adults aren’t alone in risky health behaviours. According to the study, only about 20% of kids between 12 and 19 years are making lifestyle choices to keep them healthy — including being active for an hour or more a day.

Where is all this heading? The bad news is unless people’s habits change, there will be more incidences of diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart attacks and stroke. If you think our hospitals are crowded now, imagine what the wards will be like a few years from now.

The sad part is that many baby boomers are planning for long lives. Unless they make changes now, however, they will be sick or disabled for 10 of those years, according to a Heart and Stroke Foundation report released in 2013. Ironically, most boomers think they are healthy but in fact many are stressed, sedentary, eat poorly and drink too much alcohol.

Could this be the year Canadians change those statistics and turn this unhealthy ship around?

Pass the veggies while we think about it.

 

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