Mobility is the Key to Healthspan

 

“Mobility is the key to survival: this came up again and again in my research.” -Bill Gifford

The medical field of aging is relatively new. It wasn’t until the last century that we saw an exponential increase in human life expectancy and as a result, we’ve only just started to study aging. And there is still a lot of gray area. One thing we know for sure is that there is huge variability in how we age.

And that there is a big difference between lifespan and healthspan. Thanks to modern medicine, we’ve seen a huge increase in lifespan over the last few decades. But unfortunately, that increase in lifespan doesn’t always accompany an increase in quality of life.

And this is where healthspan comes in. Healthspan is how many healthy years we can add to someone’s life. Because really, what’s the point of adding extra years if you can’t enjoy them?

Much of the findings of studies on aging have been...

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Book Review: Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever by Bill Gifford

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a copy of the book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever by Bill Gifford. I keep a running list of books related to health and aging, but this one wasn’t on my list and caught my eye. I’m so happy I picked it up. The comprehensive information in the book blew me away. I will summarize a little bit below but I highly recommend picking up a copy.

The author of the book, Bill Gifford, is a journalist who became curious about aging after watching the very different aging trajectories of his great uncle and his grandfather. How could two siblings live such drastically different lives? His great uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and died in his 70’s while his grandfather lived a very active and playful life, still farming into his 90’s when he suddenly passed...

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The Health Implications of Kyphosis

 

Kyphosis is an excessive forward curvature of the upper spine, and in today's video, we discuss the health implications of developing kyphosis. 

Kyphosis is most often thought of as an aesthetic issue, but it goes far beyond appearance. Kyphosis impacts how your ribcage and the vital organs it holds functions. It can also limit the function the muscles and joints surrounding the ribcage. It can also impact the bone density of the vertebrae. 

Kyphosis is caused by a combination of forces throughout the upper back. Muscle imbalances that pull the spine in this position are created by our movement habits, including excessive time spent sitting in front of computers and on cell phones. 

The great news is that this problem is reversible and preventable! For more on kyphosis and corrective exercises used to reverse it, check out the full-length kyphosis class in our Mindful Movement Collective

 

Want to learn more about mindful movement? Sign up for our...

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5 Natural Movements You Should Be Able to Do at Any Age

In recent years, research continues to find that physical mobility is one of the strongest indicators of the risk of chronic disease as we age. In hospitals around the country, staff members at all levels are being trained to help screen patients for mobility upon admission and before their return to home. Walking is now considered a 6th vital sign and physicians are increasingly encouraged to screen their patients for their walking ability. 

In the clinic, we often aren’t seeing clients until they’re having a problem with their mobility. It’s our mission to make sure everyone has an awareness of subtle warning signs before there’s a problem. Upon every initial assessment, we screen our clients for 5 natural movements that give us a comprehensive picture of their mobility and help them guide their course of action. 

Below is the list of movements we perform at every initial assessment. If you can perform the 5 below movements AND maintain your...

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Want to Feel More Balanced? Start with Your Feet.

Did you know that 25% of your bones and muscles are located below the ankle? And yet our feet tend to be one of the most overlooked parts of our body, at least as far as proactive care goes. No one thinks about their feet until there’s a problem.

Due to the volume of joints and muscles of the feet, stiffness in this area of the body is one of the biggest contributors to balance problems. Your feet play a major role in the intricate systems that keeps you balanced. The more rigid your feet, the more difficult it is to balance.

One of the best places you can start to improve your balance is to improve the mobility of your feet. The more impact from the environment your feet absorb, the less work the rest of your body has to do to keep you balanced.

The first step to better foot mobility is to consider how you treat your feet daily. What kind of shoes do you wear? How much time do you spend with shoes off? How are your toes moving? Do you have foot pain? Are there caluses,...

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Need to Get Moving But Feel Overwhelmed? Start Here.

Do you realize your balance is declining, but feel lost on where to start improving it? Notice that your mobility isn’t what it used to be, but not sure how to take the first step to make it better?

We all get a little lost sometimes, especially when it comes to our health as we age. As a physical therapist, my job is to break things down into the smallest possible pieces to help get someone moving and build confidence. Taking small steps gets the ball rolling and banishes overwhelm.

Just remember, all it takes is just one step every day in the right direction. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with the list below to guide you in the right direction.

1. Start small and safe.

The best place to start to build balance and movement confidence is to break things down into smaller parts, perform a lot of repetitions, and set yourself up in a safe environment.

A great place to start is to write a list of all the movements you don’t feel confident doing. For...

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Video: The Best Balance Exercise

 

One of the first exercises we teach our new clients is the calf stretch. And for good reason!

We've written blog posts in the past about the importance of taking care of the health of your feet (which you can find here, here, and here). But long story short, your feet are your foundation. Improving your foot mobility is a great first step (pun intended) toward better health. 

Watch the video above to learn how to do the calf stretch. 

To set up: In this exercise, we use a half foam roll. But if you don't have a half foam roll a rolled up towel will work great! 

Take your shoes off, this exercise is best performed barefoot. Stand in front of your half foam roll (or towel) with your feet spaced pelvis width apart. Make sure your feet are aligned straight, like the cars on a tire. Look down and if they are angled outward take a minute to straighten them. Focus on maintaining this alignment throughout the exercise.

If you aren't sure about your balance, position...

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Balance: Does Your Perception Meet Reality?

 

Last summer for my 32nd birthday, I thought it would be a great idea to climb a tree. I hadn’t climbed a tree since I was very young, but it’s something I used to do all the time. So I thought nothing of it. Our front yard has a perfect climbing tree I’d been eyeing for some time.

We’ve all climbed trees as kids and felt confident in our ability to do it. The last time I climbed it was no problem and I assumed I would feel that way going into this. In fact, I thought getting myself onto the first branch would be easy. I could see a clear path to climb up a few branches beyond that.

But I think we all know where this story is going.

It turns out, climbing a tree is pretty difficult when you haven’t done it for a few decades. Not only did I need help getting up to the first low branch, once I was there I didn’t feel confident in my ability to stay balanced at all. I found myself staring at the ground, both hands on the branch, feeling as though I...

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Our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Movement-Lovers and Lifelong-Learners

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Looking for gift ideas for that person in your life who loves movement, being active, or learning?

We love books or courses that combine movement along with learning, and over the years have come up with quite a few favorites. 

Here is our ultimate list of gift suggestions for the movement-minded person in your life! We would never recommend anything we haven’t used and loved ourselves. You also might just find a few things in this list you are interested in yourself…. 

Books

  1. Any of the books by Katy Bowman, our favorites are Movement Matters, Alignment Matters, and Move Your DNA for a broader overview of living a movement-based lifestyle.  
  2. For those looking for more specific topics, we recommend her books Dynamic Aging, Whole Body Barefoot, and Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief: The New...
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25 Movement Tips to Be More Active Today

Think you can’t find enough time in your day to exercise? You’re likely just missing out on opportunities to move more throughout your day without changing much.

Try out any one of these movement tips to get more action out of your day!

  1. Sit on the floor instead of the couch.
  2. Put your laundry basket on the floor and squat to fold your laundry.
  3. Squat to unload your dishwasher.
  4. Stretch your calves or mobilize your feet while you wash your dishes, brush your teeth, watch TV, drink your coffee, etc.
  5. Pull all the weeds in your yard by hand instead of using weed killers (bonus as this is better for the environment too)!
  6. Park in the back of the parking lot.
  7. Take the elevator instead of the stairs.
  8. Use less convenient appliances.
  9. Make your chores less efficient. For example, put the laundry basket in a different room than where you are putting the clothes away to get a few more steps in.
  10. Use a drying rack or clothes line instead of the dryer. This not only decreases...
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