A long life could be one of the greatest gifts that we are given to enjoy or one of pain and sadness. Did you know that the second cause of people not traveling is because they do not feel physically fit. The first is financial.
The substantial gains in life expectancy are real and the possibility of reaching 100 is within our grasp.
It is likely that you did not think about living to 100 when you were planning, or not, how to treat or mistreated your body.
The good news! It’s never too late to get started.
Are you someone who will choose to look forward to a long life and be engaged in that long life, or will you choose to dread a long life and believe that the only thing you can do is sit in a chair all day? We have a choice and it’s yours to decide.
The 4 Pillars
I believe there are 4 pillars that are important for your body to take on the challenge and sport of turning 100. Without a strong body, the challenge and sport won’t be much fun. Long life has often been associated with frailty and infirmity, but it does not have to be that way.
Over the next 4 blog posts I will focus on the 4 pillars one at a time that our body needs. They are: Stability, Strength, Flexibility, and Endurance.
You might think ho hum, here we go again – but I encourage you to keep reading and ponder how you choose to live and can you move the needle closer to 100 years.
The First Pillar – Stability
This may be one of the most important of our 4 pillars. If we are not stable, we risk falls which lead to injury.
Did you know that one of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or head trauma?
I use to drive past a very thin and frail woman walking down the street at breakneck speed. She walked very bent over always looking at the ground. I applaud her for being out in the sunshine and walking to whatever her destination may be.
Is she however, prepared for the crack in the sidewalk or a skateboarder cutting into her path. Does she have the situational awareness of her surroundings in case something untoward is about to happen? I don’t know. I moved, so I don’t see her now.
Did you know that over 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for falls? Let’s not be part of the 80/20 statistic which is 80% of health care dollars are spent in the last 20% of life.
In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion and Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs. That is a lot of potentially avoidable costs. Not to say that we can avoid every fall, but we can get better at fall prevention.
I always wondered if that woman thinks about her safety (both her body’s ability to correct itself and outside influences that she may or may not be aware of) while she is on those walks. Is her stability good enough to make a sharp pivot in on direction or right herself if she trips? I sure hope she was carrying ID and a phone.
Stability is the key to fall prevention. So what can you do?
- Be aware of your surroundings, or as I like to say have situational awareness. Look forward, not always down, and scan what is in front of you. So often I see people looking down because they are afraid of tripping rather than continually scanning the environment both up and down and noting those trip hazards well in advance of tripping on that obstacle. I won’t even discuss looking at smartphones.
- The home is one of the leading fall hazards due to rugs, steps and uneven surfaces. Don’t forget climbing on ladders to reach something high or put something away or clear the gutters. Have a buddy with you when you are on a ladder, please.
- Wear shoes that are supportive and don’t add to a tripping potential, like the Uggs I wear.
- Strengthen your core muscles and legs –A strong core is what holds you up and will help you with your balance. Yoga can help with balance. Other exercise can help with strength. Together they make a powerful team!
- Practice and prepare for the fall. Click on the link in red to see a quick 30 second video that you can practice at home. Practice falling into a wall and putting one foot in front of the other. (See it again on Instagram @sandifeaster)
- Wear a fall detection device or at a minimum carry easily viewed identification that has any pertinent health information (like taking anticoagulants or you have diabetes). The Apple 4 Watch now has a fall detector in it. It will call you if it detects a sudden inactivity, it will call you and if you don’t respond it will call 911. I wear a RoadID when I run, just in case I can’t speak for myself.
Prepare for the sport of living to 100 by working on your stability. Be aware of your surrounding (above, below and in front of you). Work on your balance and stability daily and never assume that it won’t happen to you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided some of the interesting statistics