NEW YORK, July 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Famed songwriter Carly Simon once crooned, "You're So Vain" in a famous tune from the 1970s - a song that many baby boomers (ages 47 to 65) likely know by heart, but according to the recent poll conducted by The Associated Press (www.ap.org) and LifeGoesStrong.com (www.lifegoesstrong.com), a popular lifestyle website for baby boomers, nothing could be farther from the truth.
In fact, baby boomers believe that the worst thing about getting older is changes to their physical strength and health, over concerns about beauty: boomers say the worst things about aging are changes in one's physical abilities (28%) or health issues (26%) over other concerns.
Baby boomers who are worried about aging are more apt to be concerned about physical and mental health, as well as finances, rather than how they look in the mirror. Being physically independent, mentally competent, paying for medical costs, financial health and staving off illness all vastly outweigh "looking older" as a concern in the minds of most boomers.
Interestingly, about one in three boomers state they are actively fighting the negative effects of aging -- and of that group, most say they are focused on the effects on their health (65%), with about a quarter (26%) focused on their mental abilities, and only 8 percent placing an emphasis on battling the effects of aging on their looks.
"The findings that midlifers who are worried about aging are focused more on their health over physical looks may seem surprising to some -- but then when you see stunning boomer role models like Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren, it all makes sense," said Cindy Pearlman, entertainment writer for the Chicago Sun Times and New York Times Syndicate, best-selling author of "The Black Book of Hollywood Beauty Secrets" series, and regular contributor to LifeGoesStrong.com's Style channel. "Even in a town like Hollywood, where you'd expect nips and tucks everywhere you turn, many celebrities are saying that the secret to looking great at any age is accepting the inevitable changes that the years bring, while staying in shape and embracing your own sense of style."
Split Attitudes Over Aging
Boomers express mixed emotions about getting older, with slightly more boomers (42 percent) feeling positive emotions like confidence or happiness about getting older than negative ones (38 percent) such as frustration, sadness or fear.
Living Longer, But Perhaps Not as Well?
Baby boomers are relatively optimistic they will live longer than their parents' generation, with six in 10 (60%) believing they will live at least a little longer. Only 12 percent expect a shorter life span while 28 percent believe it will be about the same.
Boomers are in less agreement, however, about whether their longer lives will be better than the previous generation: almost half (49%) expect a better life than mom and dad, 25 percent say it will be about the same, but just over a quarter (26%) expect the quality of their lives will be worse.
Weight, Diet and Exercise:
Given their concern over health, the survey reveals an unsurprising emphasis by boomers on their diet, weight and exercise. That's probably a good idea, since the survey revealed that an alarming 36 percent of boomers are classified as "obese" based on their self-reported height and weight, much higher than older and younger age categories. Another 36 percent of boomers are "overweight," while only 27 percent would fall into the "normal" range.
The good news is that many boomers realize diet, weight, and aging are an intertwined process – and many are doing something about it.
The AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll revealed that a whopping nine in 10 (90%) of boomers claim to have changed their diet as they get older. The most popular ways in which they have watched their weight include:
- Eating more fruits and veggies (74%)
- Reducing their fat intake (69%)
- Losing weight (67%)
- Lowering their cholesterol, eating fewer processed foods, and reducing sugar (60% each)
Boomers are more apt to adapt their diet to be healthier as they get older rather than exercise. The AP-LifeGoesStrong.com survey showed that only 57 percent of boomers have tried an exercise regimen in the past year at some time -- which is on par with all other age groups except those born before 1946. To get more fit, boomers claim walking as their most frequent exercise regimen (35%), far outpacing other activities such as outdoor exercise, sports, weights and hitting the gym (all scored 13% or below).
No Gray Area for Boomers:
Despite the self-reported passivity about looking older, the age-old ritual of "washing that gray away" lives on in the survey: almost one in three boomers (31% -- including 55% of women) admit to regularly dyeing their hair, and most of those who do submit to the hairdressers' magic say they do so specifically to cover their gray locks (73%).
The AP-LifeGoesStrong.com poll was conducted from June 3-12 by Knowledge Networks of Menlo Park, Calif., and involved online interviews with 1,416 adults, including 1,078 baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. The margin of sampling error for results from the full sample is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, for the boomers, it is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Knowledge Networks used traditional telephone and mail sampling methods to randomly recruit respondents. People selected who had no Internet access were given it for free.
LifeGoesStrong.com (www.lifegoesstrong.com) was launched in May 2010 by Digital Works@NBCU, a division of iVillage Networks, as a vibrant online destination for adults between 45 and 64 years of age who are living well and going strong. A network of websites celebrating the topics and passions at the center of the boomer generation's everyday lives, Life Goes Strong currently attracts over 1.5 million uniques a month, featuring verticals devoted to family, style, technology, health, home, work and play.
About the AP:
The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world, to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP.
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