Friday, August 12, 2011

No time for exercise? Pay now, or pay later

Sitting in Starbucks on posh Beacon Street in Brookline, Mass., I overhear two older gentleman embroiled in a discussion of politics and current events, which at some point turns to one of aging and health. One man tells the other that he has made a conscious decision not to exercise, because life is short, he says, and exercise is just too time consuming. The other, aghast, attempts to convince his friend to change his tune.

Both men, it turns out, are mid-sixties baby boomers, members of the much-talked-about generation poised to cripple our healthcare system over the next decade or so. And though it's impolite, I choose to listen intently as these men debate, because I know the choices they make - not just their political choices but also their personal health and fitness choices - will profoundly impact my own future for years to come.

The man who has chosen to be sedentary in his later life - who, by the way, appears to be decidedly older than his fitness-oriented counterpart - claims he is keeping his mind active so as to stave off alzheimers and early onset dimentia. Keeping up with his reading, travel and other intellectual pursuits, he says, doesn't leave time for much else. He also admits that he doesn't watch what he eats as much anymore, because he wants to "enjoy" the rest of his life.

The exercise apologist man retorts that his friend's logic is flawed, noting that diet and exercise are intrinsically linked to brain health - not to mention physical health - which would lead to a longer life, and more time to enjoy it. Nutrition and physical fitness, he said, are key not only to lengthening one's life but also to enhancing quality of life throughout as you age.

His argument came down to this - "Pay now, or pay later". Dedicate a few moments of your day now, or give up precious months or even years of your life later. The choice is up to you.

That's simple logic if you ask me!

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