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Summary of key findings

Health-promoting factors and good health among Canadians in mid- to late life

Publication: Health Reports 2010:21(3)

Authors: Pamela L. Ramage-Morin, Margot Shields and Laurent Martel

Data: the Canadian Community Health Survey ― Healthy Aging

A sizeable proportion of people aged 45 or older reported that they were in good health in 2009, based on their self-perceived general and mental health, as well as measures of functional ability and independence in their daily life.

Three-quarters (76%) of Canadians in mid-life (45 to 64) and 56% of seniors aged 65 or older reported good health, according to new data from the Canadian Community Health Survey ― Healthy Aging.

Understandably, the prevalence of good health declines with age.  However, even up to age 85, at least half the population was in good health in 2009.  Among seniors, men were more likely than women to have good health, a difference that was not evident in the younger age group.

Higher levels of education were positively associated with good health, as was some form of shared living arrangement.  As expected, the more chronic conditions people had, the less likely they were to have good health.

Even so, good health existed in the presence of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis and back problems, all of which were common among people aged 45 or older.

A number of factors over which individuals have some control were
associated with good health.  These were:  not smoking, weight control, regular exercise, fruit and vegetable consumption, sleeping well, oral health, stress reduction, and participation in activities with family and friends. 

About 84% of those aged 45 to 64 and 91% of seniors reported positive tendencies on four or more of these factors.  The more factors on which positive tendencies were reported, the greater the likelihood of having good health.

The survey also found that Canadians in mid- to late life were slightly more likely to be in good health in 2009 than they had been almost a decade earlier.

Between 2000/2001 and 2009, the prevalence of good health rose significantly in almost every age group.  The four factors comprising good health―self-perceived general health, self-perceived mental health, functional abilities and independence―each contributed to the overall increase.

These results are important because demographic projections show that Canada’s population is aging.  As the baby-boom population reaches 65 during the next two decades, this demographic change will accelerate.

Full article

For more information about this article, contact Pamela Ramage-Morin at 1-613-951-1760 ( Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada.