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Looking for a comfortable retirement? Say ‘no’ to temptation

Global, August 2, 2017

You can blame evolutionary heritage for your lack of willpower when it comes to making healthy choices, but don’t expect to succeed in aging well if you can’t learn to say ‘no’ to the temptations of modern life.

Launched this week, the 2017 'Healthy Ageing in 6 Steps' course, could help change your habits for good. Credited with being 'life-changing' by some of the participants of 185 countries who signed up last year, this free online course will now run a second time.

We live in a world of constant temptation, with high-calorie foods available, literally at the click of a button. But unfortunately we haven't evolved quickly enough to resist these temptations, even when our rational self knows that they're bad choices for our health.

Introduction to 'Healthy Ageing in 6 Steps'

Prevention better than pills

For many people, even the suffering that results from health complications caused by obesity, still isn't enough to help them say no to the seduction of a high-calorie, sedentary lifestyle. Co-instructor Rudi Westendorp reflects on his regrets as a doctor, where instead of prescribing pills to solve a problem, he might instead have intervened to solve the root cause of health issues.

And while we may feel healthy today, "many health complaints, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or joint problems seem inescapable diseases of old-age, but originate mostly from our lifestyle," explains the course presenter David van Bodegom, who spent nine years researching how lifestyle affects health. Among his conclusions is that lifestyle can impact health – sometimes as much as 20 years later.

So how do you change the habits of a lifetime?

"This health course takes a radically different approach to showing you how to secure a lifestyle, which will keep you healthy as you grow older," he says. "We have to let the environment do the work for us. By making small changes at our home, work, school or neighborhood, healthier choices can become easier or even unconscious."

Available on the online learning platform edX, the course was developed by partners of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health Campus. These included the Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing which was established by the Aegon Association in 2008, the University of Copenhagen and TU Delft in the Netherlands.