Getting fit to face the future
Recently I was privileged to be invited to Schroders in the City of London for the launch of a CSFI report by Professor Les Mayhew of Cass Business School focusing on issues around economic activity of people of 50+. Typically, this is when activity starts to tail off with ill health, or disability, as the biggest single cause. The report explores the link between healthy life expectancy and activity rates, and advocates that improving the health, fitness and activity rate of this group as being both good for individuals and for the nation’s economic and fiscal outlook.
There was a wide discussion of issues – including those around the health issues in this age group related to processed and heavily processed food with its impact on the rising level of chronic disease, but there was general agreement that with ‘healthy life expectancy’ the aim, people’s obligations to take better care of themselves should be encouraged, most likely achieved through a range of possible government initiatives that might include:
- tax policies encouraging better eating and lifestyles
- improved education around food and fitness – both physical and mental
- a ‘NWS’ – a National Wellness Service
- Big Food taxed to offset processed food healthcare costs
Planning for a longer healthier or unhealthier life?
One of the most inspiring presentations was provided by Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at London Business School, and co-author, with Lynda Grattan, of the award-winning book, ‘The 100-Year Life’. Responding to the report he provided an enlightened, thought provoking and entertaining overview into the many challenges and opportunities, which also chimed with the No Targets philosophy.
Different rates of aging
His starting point regarding activity rates was one I come across all the time; there is a growing divergence in our rates of aging, with many people, depending on their diet and level of exercise, experiencing much wider variations in their chronological and biological ages. Or to put it simply, some forty-year-olds have the body of a seventy-year-old, while some seventy-year-olds will have a biological age closer to a forty-year-old.
Shaping the future for health and wealth
If you are in your twenties or thirties, with a more than fifty percent chance of living beyond 97, you have a long stretch of time ahead to shape differently for career choices, financial security and better health. If you are in your forties, fifties of sixties then you need to reconsider your future and think about how you will reinvest in the second half of your life. This means taking stock of health, wealth and adopting plans for as fulfilling a future as possible. Failure to innovate in response to a longer life will mean additional stresses and strains as existing models based on three score years and ten will stretch uncomfortably over a 100year lifespan, which most children born in rich countries today can expect to live. With the current structure of work and society unequipped to deal with these rapid changes, this means we either can’t afford to retire at the age our parents did or will have to work for so long that our mental and physical fitness as well as our enthusiasm for life could suffer.
Companies and governments will have a role to play, but in the first instance it is down to us to take the initiative. An easy place to start? Make eating real food Just Routine for better long-term health.
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