By Nicky Snazell
Many people dream of the day when they can say goodbye to the working world and dive into retirement. The question is: How do you make sure you’re healthy enough to enjoy retirement once you get there? And how can you make sure you stand a fighting chance if you’re affected by an unexpected illness, like the Coronavirus?
By making good decisions now that keep you on track for the lifestyle you will want then, that’s how.
I am a physiotherapist, and in recent years I have asked patients at my clinic to fill out a questionnaire about how they lead their lives. Their answers prove to be incredibly useful in letting me see where they need to improve their mindset, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle, all four of which are key indicators of health.
Once I have their answers, I then employ what I refer to as the “traffic lights” approach to health, so called because I analyze healthy and unhealthy habits for each of those four keys by saying whether the patient is green (good), amber (room for improvement) or red (poor).
As patients implement healthy habits, they should start to see the traffic light scores change from red to amber and, eventually, to green. When this happens, they are likely to be at optimal health for their age.
So where might your mindset, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle fall on that traffic light? Are you happily awash in greens, or showing danger signs with reds? Oddly enough, Americans are some of the world’s biggest consumers of wellness products and services, yet at the same time struggle with poor lifestyle choices and chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity.
Luckily, there is good news within the bad, with some trends that could bode well for a future populated with potentially healthier older Americans. They include:
- Eating habits. Americans are buying more wholegrain, naturally cultivated cereals, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Total sales in the U.S. of organic foods stood at $47.86 billion in 2018, according to Statista. That’s more than double from $21 billion 10 years earlier. That’s a good sign, even though junk food continues to play too large a role in many people’s diets.
- Weight loss. Americans spend as much $33 billion annually on weight loss solutions, with 45 million going on a diet due to weight-related concerns, according to the Boston Medical Center. While a large percentage of Americans are overweight or obese, it is worrying that ONLY wealthy individuals can make financial commitments to weight management and preventive medicine.
- Fitness trends. The growing number of lifestyle and chronic disease patients has fueled a health and fitness revolution that the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) estimates is worth over $30 billion in the U.S.. This trend provides insight into why more Americans are interested in activities such as yoga and gym memberships. It also is reflected in the proliferation of budget-friendly gyms for the less wealthy, alongside those targeting corporate and rich individuals.
- Gadgetry. Technology, often blamed for sedentary lifestyles, is also making a positive contribution to healthy living. Companies such as Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin have designed sensors into smartphones, wristbands, and watches to collect biometric data aligned with wellness and fitness. Such gadgets can, for example, track how many steps you walk each day, encouraging you to walk even more.
Personally, I like to study wellness, not illness, to find the secrets of longevity. This means more than being content that you are not ill; it means living a life at the optimum health and vitality for your age. And while there is no “cure” or magical remedy to prevent contracting an illness like the Coronavirus, being in the best physical and psychological health possible is a great way to start.
About Nicky Snazell
Nicky Snazell (www.painreliefclinic.co.uk), author of The 4 Keys to Health and other books, is director of Nicky Snazell’s Wellness & Physiotherapy in the United Kingdom. She is a physiotherapist and pain specialist. Snazell is the founder of three health companies and still treats patients, embracing holistic physiotherapy, healthy living, and new technology for joint repair. After 30 years of treating patients, including about 14,000 at her clinic’s Midlands location, Snazell has seen a huge success rate. She also makes presentations internationally on health, wellbeing and pain relief.