One of the most important lessons I try to leave with my audiences, especially when I’m addressing a group of seniors, is this: it’s never too late to change and to start doing healthy lifestyle things you’ve long neglected or even never done.
So even when you get into your nineties – and the great thing is that the over-80 demographic is probably the quickest-growing demographic in Canada – there is always something more you can do to make your life more pleasant, to give you more energy, to help you cope with the inevitable conditions that accompany aging, to reduce your risk of illness, to keep your brain sharper, and even perhaps to prolong your life. Although, if you are going to make a change, one other bit of advice: go about it slowly because there’s really no rush.
And to illustrate the truth of that advice, that is, that it really is never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes, a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston followed 2231 patients who had what is called left ventricular (LV) dysfunction, that is, in these people, the left ventricle of the heart (the bearing chamber that sends blood into the rest of the body) wasn’t working properly any more as a result of a heart attack.
Of these people, 463 had been smokers at the time of their heart attack, and although most of us would think that none of them would continue to smoke after suffering a heart attack, we know from many studies that a majority of smokers continue to smoke after a heart attack, which was the case in this study, too: 268 of these people continued to smoke.
At the end of 5 years, comparing the smokers with the ones who’d quit, 15 % of the non-smokers had had a 2nd heart attack compared to 23 % of the smokers.
So repeat after me: it’s never too late to quit, to start doing more exercise, to eat better, etc. It just takes will.