The Greatest Generation is Taking Charge
While the past year was rough for seniors shuttered indoors, many of those who were inbound took the initiative to learn how to Zoom, FaceTime, and use other online apps in order to stay in touch with family members – in particular grandkids – who were already familiar with screen time interactions.
For those with more freedom to move about, adjust their remote work/life balance, shorten their work day, or take early retirement a whole new “possible” opened up. These seniors dusted off their hiking boots, tuned up their bicycles, and put on their gardening gloves in search of healthier lifestyles that didn’t require in-person or inside conditions.
Avoiding crowds and unable to visit their local gyms, seniors reported increasing the number of times per week and the distances traveled when walking, running, or biking. Yard work and outdoor activities such as bird watching, were also added to the fitness routines of many seniors prioritizing their health.
According to AARP, while some seniors decreased their exercise levels since the COVID outbreak (primarily due to being quarantined indoors or stay-at-home mandates), the majority (67%) either maintained (53%) or increased (14%) their exercise level.
The Latest Generation is Making Change
Younger adults may have had the lowest COVID contraction rates, but they certainly had every reason to expect highest declines in their health. At a time in their lives when social interactions defined them, the latest generation was asked to forego the normal course of venturing out into the world.
School classrooms closed their doors shuttering students at home to learn in isolation. Recreational and sports activities were canceled. Graduations, proms, and other important life events were nearly or completely erased from their calendars. Wedding plans went on hold. Time together at a local park or beach to toss a frisbee or have a bonfire was doused. Yet, Gen Zers found new ways to keep up their spirits and their fitness during this incredibly stressful time.
According to Fitt Insider, Gen Zers are surpassing millennials when it comes to prioritizing health. Consider the following Gen Z statistics:
- 72% report that managing stress and mental health is their most important health and wellness concern
- They are more likely to consume locally produced foods, plant-based products, and nearly 80% plan to go meatless several times per week
A national survey by Parade and Cleveland Clinic reported that during the pandemic:
- 18- to 34-year-olds were the most likely demographic to adopt new, healthy behaviors
- 78% said the pandemic has made them value their relationships
- 34% said they felt closer to their families
- 65% report that they’re cooking more at home and 85% saying they’ll continue to do so
All Generations are Making Plans to Foster Health Together
What’s super exciting about this last year is that the pandemic stretched both young and old to find new ways to stay healthy.
- 68% of adults reported paying attention to risk factors for health issues due to the COVID pandemic
- 62% adopted some form of health lifestyle change
With the pandemic social distancing mandates winding down it’s a great time to take healthy habits created over the past year and use them to reunite across generations.
Here are three healthy activities that, no matter the age, everyone can participate in and benefit from:
1. Plan monthly family mini-unions in the park, on a beach, or near walking trails where fresh air and open spaces allow togetherness even for those who may still need to keep some social distance. Consider using fitness trackers for those who can’t attend in person but want to participate. Set shared goals based on aggregate numbers like total miles walked, number of parks attended, or types of wildlife spotted.
2. Create a family “healthy” recipe book that includes favorite dishes from and for every age. Include recipes for those with specific health conditions like diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, or food allergies. Make suggestions on where to purchase healthy and affordable ingredients. Share a bit of history or insight on dishes that hold special meaning.
3. Expand one another’s health literacy by introducing favorite healthy behaviors to those younger or older – but not the same age – as yourself. Older adults can teach teenagers to waltz and polka; teenagers can teach toddlers to ride a bike or skateboard; toddlers can teach seniors how to make believe again.
If the pandemic taught us one thing it’s that we need each other to stay motivated, to be active, and to be our best selves. Hopefully, while the pandemic dies off in months, being healthy together will live on for generations.
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