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Advances in medical technology have made it possible for you to live a third of your life after retirement. In 1970, life expectancy in Canada was 69.3 years for males and 76.3 years for females. Today, life expectancy in Canada is 78.8 years for males and 83.3 years for females. During those 39 years, men have gained 24%, or 1/4 of a year each year lived, women slightly less, at 18% per year.

It's a challenge to keep your body fit enough to enjoy those extra years. In fact, most Canadians live a sedentary lifestyle. An astonishing 57 percent of adults are not active enough to benefit their health. In the 65-plus bracket, the inactivity level increases to 62 percent. That's an alarming statistic for an age group where quality of life is so closely linked to maintaining an active lifestyle.

One of the best ways to keep healthy and fend-off certain diseases and disabling conditions is to lead an active lifestyle. Whether it's gardening, walking, swimming, cycling, a friendly game of tennis, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, or walking to the corner store instead of driving, it all adds up to active living.

Health Canada says that you should engage in 30 minutes of moderate activity 4 days a week as a minimum . And those 30 minutes can be accumulated in 10-minute segments. A brisk walk for example is 'moderate' activity. An active lifestyle will improve your health and your quality of life, boost your sense of self-fulfilment and increase your energy level. Keep active and retirement will become the most enjoyable time of your life.

In 2002 the World Health Organization said that sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, doubles the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity and substantially increases the risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression, and anxiety.

Scary stuff. Why not take the precaution of becoming active now before you are beset with health problems that will prohibit you from doing so later in life. Here's one way to get started.

Do something that will get your body moving. Pick an activity that you will enjoy and get started. Walking for example is the favourite activity for 70% of our adult population.

Walking is safe, inexpensive and one of the best exercises around. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and the willpower to Get Up and Go.

If you haven't exercised for some time, start off slowly with 15 minute walks and build up gradually until you walk for a total of 30 minutes, four days a week. As you build up strength and endurance, add another five minutes to your walk every couple of weeks.

Always consult with your doctor or health care professional before beginning an exercise program.

Another solution, or complementary to staying active is using herbal medicine or acupuncture to improve physical strength according to traditional Chinese medicine.

You're not looking for just 'more' years during retirement; you want 'quality' years that provide enjoyment and self-fulfilment. Once you make active living an essential part of your life, quality and self-fulfilment will follow just as sure as day follows night.

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