The Internet can be a major time-waster and many of us have vowed to spend less time online -- but research suggests Internet users are actually healthier. A study released Oct. 22 says older Internet users are more likely to undergo cancer screenings and live cancer-preventive lifestyles than those who are not often online.
Researchers found 72.9 percent of consistent Internet users have had a colorectal cancer screening compared with just 51.7 percent of non-users, according to the study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. The American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer screenings can cut cancer incidence by one-third.
Data for the study was taken from the English Longitudinal Study on Aging every two years between 2002 and 2011, from 5,943 people over 50 in England. Respondents reported their habits on a variety of topics including Internet use, health screenings, smoking, and physical activity.
The study also revealed Internet users were 50 percent more physically active and 25 percent more likely to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day than non-users. In addition, just 6.6 percent of Internet users reported smoking compared with 13.3 percent of non-users and 11.4 percent of intermittent users.
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of exercise and a nutrient-rich diet. The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that 30 percent of cancers can be prevented with just a healthy diet and exercise plan.
“The interesting aspect here is a dose-response relationship between Internet use and cancer preventive-behaviors: Intermittent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than never-users, and consistent users were more likely to have cancer-preventive behaviors than intermittent users,” researcher Christian von Wagner, lecturer at University College London, said in a release.
Another study on Internet use and health outcomes found over 63 percent of adult Internet users had looked up health information for themselves or others online. Researchers say the study shows the ability of the Internet to provide information on health and improve cancer outcomes, despite socioeconomic disparities in Internet use.
"Our findings indicate that Internet use among older people should be targeted," von Wagner told The Huffington Post. "More importantly that efforts should be made to reduce the social disparities -- particularly by education and wealth -- in Internet use."
Earlier on HuffPost50:
A blog dedicated to reinvention or "rebooting" (ending one career and pursuing a new one), <a href="http://rebootyou.com/" target="_hplink">RebootYou</a> offers inspiration and support to a network of "rebooters," with fun resources such as "Ten Good Reasons to Reboot Yourself" and "Rebooter Stories," as well as some concrete guidelines on "How to Reboot."
A popular reinvention theme is using the skills and experience gleaned from years in the professional world to serve the greater good. If this sounds appealing, <a href="http://reserveinc.org/" target="_hplink">ReServe</a> can help match you with a nonprofit organization that could use your help; a nonprofit group itself, ReServe helps "continuing professionals age 55+" secure a part-time, flexible position with one of its nonprofit partners, where they will be paid an hourly stipend -- which can remain a short-term project, or can serve as a stepping-stone to second career in the nonprofit sector.
In a similar vein, <a href="http://www.encore.org/" target="_hplink">Encore Careers</a>, a service of Civic Ventures, a nonprofit think tank on boomers, work and social purpose, "provides free, comprehensive information that helps people transition to jobs in the nonprofit world and the public sector." In addition to lots of information on multigenerational workforce issues and inspiring testimonials, Encore Careers provides <a href="http://www.encore.org/fellowships" target="_hplink">fellowships</a> to help a few lucky encore-career hunters get their foot in the door in the nonprofit world.
In addition to a wealth of information on topics such as financial planning for retirement and the unique health concerns affecting seniors, <a href="http://www.retiredbrains.com/" target="_hplink">RetiredBrains</a> offers a job search engine complete with a "work from home" search category.
<a href="http://workreimagined.aarp.org/" target="_hplink">Work Reimagined</a> is a social networking site launched recently by AARP. Powered by LinkedIn, it connects job-seeking professionals with potential employers -- companies who have taken the "Work Reimagined pledge" to actively seek experienced professionals -- as well as with each other for support and networking.
Though it targets primarily a younger audience working their way through false starts in their professional lives, articles on topics such as "How to overcome fear and obstacles" and even "How to identify your ideal career" on the "expert advice" page of <a href="http://www.careershifters.org/" target="_hplink">Careershifters.org</a> can be of use to people of any age making a major career and life transition, and in need of a little motivation and guided self-reflection. For those in the U.K., this organization also offers workshops in "figuring out what you really want and making a realistic action plan."
<a href="http://www.experienceworks.org/" target="_hplink">Experience Works</a> provides training, employment and community service to low-income seniors; operating under the belief that "Older people should have the opportunity to learn new skills and contribute to their communities throughout their lives," the organization offers training to people 55+ who are currently unemployed. Its website itself is a great resource, with advice on combating age discrimination in the labor market ("myths of maturity" and how to counter them), lists of common interview, resume, and job-search mistakes, and a link to the National Business Services Alliance's <a href="http://ewl.nbsalliance.com/tt/wsl/main/welcome" target="_hplink">"Job Match" and "Job Search" tool</a>, which helps older workers assess where their strengths lie and match those strengths with local job openings.
<a href="http://www.quintcareers.com/" target="_hplink">Quintessential careers</a> is another primarily information-based online resource for career-changers and job-seekers, with articles on topics such as how to make the most of a job fair, tips for interviewing, and how to build a personal brand. It also has a special page for the unique concerns of mature and older jobseekers.
Sites To Help You Keep Doing What You're Doing...But Less
There are also plenty of useful sites for people who hope to continue in their current profession into their second half, but perhaps at a slower pace or on a part-time basis: <a href="http://www.yourencore.com/" target="_hplink">YourEncore</a> is a neat resource for recently retired scientists or engineers, pairing them with projects that will utilize their expertise in the consumer product, pharmaceutical / life science, aerospace / defense, food, chemical and electronic industries. Once they've joined the YourEncore network as an "expert," they can be recruited by "Member Companies" for full- or part-time work on projects of interest in their field of expertise, ranging from days to several months. <a href="http://www.volunteersinmedicine.org/index.shtml" target="_hplink">Volunteers in Medicine</a> helps retired medical practitioners offer their services pro bono to those in need. <a href="http://www.score.org/" target="_hplink">Score</a> connects retirees from the world of business with budding small businesses that could use their expertise.
Aspiranet Encore Fellowships
<a href="http://www.aspiranet.org/" target="_hplink">Aspiranet</a>, one of the largest social service agencies in California, helps post 50s get started in doing work in the nonprofit sector. The service is also the first <a href="http://www.encore.org/fellowships/aspiranet-encore" target="_hplink">nonprofit</a> in America to launch an Encore Fellowships program with <a href="http://Encore.org" target="_hplink">Encore.org</a>. The program aims to "provide a unique opportunity to take meaningful action, using skills and knowledge you already have, while learning firsthand about the nonprofit sector and exploring potential work options." Aspiranet provides a list of their 35 programs to chose from as well as testimonials from their Encore Fellows.