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Healthy Aging

Tips for Winning the Gold Medal in Healthy Aging

Cassie Campbell-Pascall
Cassie Campbell-Pascall

While the number of aging Canadians is growing at a faster rate than ever before, the education, services, and resources allocated towards caring for our seniors is not. Learn from Team Canada’s two-time Olympic gold medal-winning hockey captain, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, on why she believes in raising awareness for healthy and active aging and what we can learn from the seniors who have helped make Canada the country it is today.

You’ve gone from winning two Olympic gold medals as Team Canada’s hockey captain to becoming a broadcaster, social advocate, and mother. How has this changed your perspective?

I’ll always be excited to be an Olympian, and always will appreciate what my teammates and I accomplished, but I’ve also moved on to accomplish other goals in my life. Having a family has changed my perspective on what’s most important in my life: it’s no longer about me (the athlete). I also think becoming a broadcaster has allowed me to use the tools I learned on the ice to have a great career post-hockey. It’s allowed me to stay involved with hockey and working in the NHL has been so much fun.

As you age, what steps are you taking to enter the next phases of your life with a healthy outlook?

I still exercise a lot but I’ve learned to exercise properly according to my age and my body. I have a mindset where I can always try and push myself through things, but as I mature, I also understand I have to be smarter with how I work out and make sure that I’m eating healthy and taking care of aches and pains more and more. It’s taken time for me to fully understand that, as far as the way I can train, I’m not an Olympian anymore. It’s been a challenge to figure that out, but I feel that I’m in my best place ever as far as fitness in the post-athletic career stage of my life.

As for nutrition, I want to enjoy myself, but also to be more careful with what I eat. I’ve also realized that as I get closer to 50, I have to slow down and can’t maintain the same schedule I did in my thirties and forties. This has been an adjustment from someone who always likes to be on the go.

How have you been staying positive and connected during the pandemic?

Well, I think it’s important to admit that I haven’t always been positive and that’s okay. There are days that are tougher than others, but generally I’ve used COVID to reconnect with myself and my family. I’ve seen it as a mandated break that I never would have taken for myself. I’ve been content with the restrictions on travel, which has always been a huge part of my work life. I enjoy being home on a regular basis as well, but to say that it’s been all fun and games wouldn’t be truthful — living during a pandemic also comes with a lot of worries.

Exercise has been very helpful and reaching out to friends I haven’t talked to in a while has brought a lot of laughter. I’ve also had the chance to read a lot of books that aren’t about hockey, which has been fun.

While I’m still busy with Zoom calls and business meetings, I’m also trying to make sure that my perspective is staying low-key through all of this and that I’m pushing myself to do things I never had time to do before.

What advice do you have for others who have retired from the work they love and begun a new chapter in life?

Know that retirement — or transition, as I prefer to call it — can be very scary. Sometimes you know what you’re going to do next, but in most cases you have no idea. Going from being an Olympian to real life was extremely nerve-racking at first, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was lucky in that I had a lot of options, but at the same time I didn’t know what was right for me.

My advice is to not say yes to everything, but at the same time don’t close any doors. Make sure you take the time to figure out your next steps without letting your “overachiever” self get in the way. Be mindful that it does require rest to go from one thing to another so take the time to have that balance. I wish I took more time for myself post-Olympic career instead of jumping into so many things.

How have your parents’ aging journeys informed your own approach to the future?

My parents have done a good job in making sure they’ve taken care of their futures, but knowing they’re aging is stressful to some degree. You believe your parents are invincible and little things keep happening that show you otherwise. Two of my parents battled and beat cancer.

I think I understand more and more now the importance of saving for the future and making sure you have your financial ducks in order. I also believe that I spend way below my means to make sure that my family is safe for rainy days ahead. I do believe through watching my parents that life is short, and so living it to the fullest and with no regrets is also key.

What are some ways that younger groups can help make the future brighter for aging Canadians?

Younger people can help aging Canadians by spending more time with them — understanding that the knowledge they have to share with us is so valuable. I live on the other side of the country from my parents, and I find it very hard at times to not be able to see them as much as I would like to. Be respectful of what they can still bring to the table and how they can make us all slow down and enjoy the smell of the roses a little more often.

What cause do you hope more Canadians will learn about?

I think mental health is a great cause to know more about. I do believe that we all suffer from it, to some extent, as we try to accomplish these “perfect” lives that, quite frankly, don’t exist. I also wish we did less on social media than we do. I think it honestly puts more strain on our social well-being than we realize. It’s taken away from our socializing skills that I think we desperately need to keep us grounded.

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