Author: Oscar Franco, MD, PhD

Organisation: ErasmusAGE, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Even from early age, we tend to disregard healthy lifestyle changes because we have a limited perspective of time. Perhaps we are driven by reluctance to embrace the necessary efforts involved. Following the same approach oriented toward avoiding making an effort, when we are young, we delay changes and decisions, postponing them for later. Often, though, when that age arrives, we think it is too late to make a change. In the case of following a healthy lifestyle as the path to healthy aging, there is never a case for being too early or too late.

A “sine qua non” of life, aging starts from the moment we are conceived and stops only with a full cease of our bodily functions when we are deceased. It is therefore logical to consider that any decision, choice or habit that we undertake during our life course affects how we age and feel throughout life. Following a healthy lifestyle has been associated with a number of benefits among different populations at all stages of life benefiting children and elderly alike.

Furthermore, the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle are not only reserved for people who are currently healthy. As presented by researchers from the VA Medical Center in Durham, NC, in a recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), benefits of a healthy lifestyle can also be seen among elderly long-term cancer survivors. Their study evaluated the effect of providing information about the components of a healthy lifestyle through telephone counselling and mailed print material and whether they ameliorate or even stop functional decline among older adults who are overweight and cancer survivors.

The authors found that, after 12 months, those who received information about following a healthy lifestyle experienced a substantial amelioration of their functional abilities, as well as an improvement in their quality of life, compared to those that did not receive the information.

Perhaps following a healthy lifestyle means the need to make certain efforts that may appear to be a great burden. Nevertheless, the efforts to age healthfully are greatly compensated and it is never too late to invest in the bank of the healthy lifestyle. Healthy aging will be just one of the rewards.

Reference:

Morey MC, Snyder DC, Sloane R, Cohen HJ, Peterson B, Hartman TJ, Miller P, Mitchell DC, Demark-Wahnefried W. Effects of home-based diet and exercise on functional outcomes among older, overweight long-term cancer survivors: RENEW: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2009 May 13;301(18):1883-91

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