5 bad health habits to break

Ditch these five bad health habits to live longer – and better.

Aging well is not just about length of life, it’s also about quality of life. Many of us plan carefully for retirement finances – working for promotions to increase earnings, managing our retirement savings. But we can also plan for a healthier, more active retirement. Here are five bad habits to ditch on your road to “freedom 55,” and some sites to help you do it.

More than 45,000 people will die this year in Canada due to smoking. But it’s not only death that smokers should fear: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other breathing problems can seriously cramp your lifestyle.

Health Canada provides free help for smokers wanting to quit at their website. One of the programmes they offer includes the E-Quit programme. Free daily e-mail messages support individuals through their quitting process, one day at a time.

According to the website, since E-Quit’s launch in 2002, hundreds of people have written Health Canada to praise the program. People like the non-judgmental and supportive tone of the messages. They enjoy the program’s pace and the sense of accomplishment they achieve by reaching each goal. For some, it was like having a personal coach to help them through the day.

Lack of exercise
In the rush of other commitments, and the siren call of the television and the Internet, exercise can be something we all just put off. But a sedentary lifestyle is a factor in many health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. Moving now will help keep you moving in the future. 20 minutes of brisk walking a day can be all it takes to start.

Canada’s 90-second inspirational team, the Body Break duo, has a great website at www.bodybreak.com. Lighthearted and quick tips can help inspire you to get up off the couch (or office chair).

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide also includes suggestions for adding fitness into your daily routine. Their section for older adults is helpful without being condescending.

Junk food
We’ve all heard the news reports about trans-fats, super-sizes, and other pitfalls of consuming junk food. An aging body needs high-quality, low-fat foods. And being overweight or consuming foods high in fat and sugar contributes to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. But for many, the drive-through is just too convenient or it’s what is available at lunchtime at work.

The Canadian Health Network offers a site full of tips, a virtual grocery store, a quiz, and a tour of the healthy lunchbox. The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation also offers a wealth of information about healthy eating as well as recipes.

Too much stress
It may sound a little new age, but it’s true that reducing stress in your life can impact your health dramatically – not only for the big diseases like heart disease and stroke, but also to keep things like insomnia and eczema at bay.