What You Can Learn From the Longest Study Conducted on Aging

The study of aging is a relatively new field of science. It wasn’t until the last century that we started to see both lifespan and quality of life extend exponentially. And it wasn’t until the last 50 years that researchers started to take a serious look at aging.

And as a physical therapist who works with older adults, aging is a topic I research often. A simple Google search provides a plethora of information on solutions that hold the supposed “cure” to aging. How should anyone know where to start to sort this information out? And what really does work?

"Aging is not a disease, otherwise living would be a disease, but you can't make money off satisfaction." -Ashton Applewhite

First of all, aging isn’t a disease that needs to be “cured”As author Ashton Applewhite would say, aging is living. And it doesn't have to be a state of decline to be dreaded and avoided. 

If any solution is touting itself as the ultimate...

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Your Attitudes About Aging Can Predict Your Future

“One of the most interesting study findings has to do with attitudes toward aging itself. Young middle-aged people (in their forties and fifties) with positive feelings about growing older- gaining wisdom, freedom from working, opportunities to travel and learn more- tended to enjoy better health, and better cognitive health later in life.” — Bill Gifford

I spend a lot of my day talking about how our attitudes impact our aging and health. Coming from a young person, I get a lot of dirty looks and people telling me I don't understand reality.

But this isn’t just some delusional thinking coming from what I would like aging to be. No. Our attitudes and beliefs influencing our health as we age are actually backed by research. 

What Research Doesn’t Tell Us

The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging is the longest-running study we have on aging today. It’s produced a huge volume of data that’s been sifted through by researchers to develop a...

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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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Treat Your Health Like Your Retirement Investing

I was listening to a podcast the other day related to business and there was one statement on the dangers of adopting a victim mentality that stuck with me.

“If you have a victim mentality, you’ll only get victim results”. -Mignon Francois

This can be applied to any area of our life, including health. And we are all guilty of adopting a victim mentality at one point or another. One of the most common pitfalls I see others making when it comes to health is holding onto this mentality with a death grip.

The reality is you’ll get out of your health what you’re willing to put in. And investing in yourself means admitting that you have control over your circumstances. This starts with shedding victimhood.

You would never expect your retirement account to grow if you aren’t making incremental investments over time. If you feel like a victim of the system you probably wouldn’t start investing in the first place. And you can’t expect your...

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3 Simple Balance Exercises You Can Try at Home


Working on your balance doesn’t need to involve any fancy equipment and can be as simple as putting a 2x4 on a stack of books or yoga blocks to create a simple beam! Or if you aren’t so confident with your balance, try the 2x4 on the floor by itself first. Then give these 3 moves a try:

Pelvic listing on the beam is a great way to work on single leg standing and get your lateral hip muscles doing their job again. Stand on he beam on one foot and focus on pulling your hip inward to keep it stacked above your ankle.

Heel-to-toe standing and walking on the beam. If you have to move quickly along the beam it’s an indicator you don’t have good balance control. The slower you move here the better.

And the trickiest one for me: walking sideways along the beam. Try it both directions!

Some tips to get more out of your balance work:

Try this in front of a mirror for feedback and motor learning. This helps integrate your brain and your body.

Try your balance...

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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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We’re All Old People in Training, So Train Wisely

 

“Becoming an Old Person in Training makes it easier to think critically about what age means in this society and the forces at work behind depictions of older people as useless and pathetic.” -Ashton Applewhite

When most people talk about aging, they portray this picture of decline. Hold onto this misguided belief the best years are behind them. Sadly the anti-aging message is pervasive in our society. And the increasing rates of social isolation among older adults speaks volumes about our views on aging.

But what if instead, we looked at aging as a time of growth? How drastically does that change this image?

There isn’t something specific about aging that causes a state of decline. Your beliefs are what cause change with age. Nothing more. By telling ourselves we've gotten "too old to..." we initiate the process of decline. If we'd just admit that yes, we are in fact getting older, embrace this fact, and view aging as an opportunity for further growth we’d...

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Find Your Tribe: Reach Your Goals with a Healthy Aging Community

A staggering 28% of adults in the US over the age of 65 live alone. In recent years, a substantial amount of research has found on isolation in our later years increases the risk of adverse health events. Older adults who feel isolated are more likely to develop chronic disease, depression, and dementia. Isolation also increases the risk of mortality. 

On a similar note, one of the most common concerns I hear from clients in the clinic is the lack of social support in reaching their health goals. They express that it’s difficult to make healthier choices because of others around them, or a lack of people around them. It’s hard to get friends and family members on board while changing to health-conscious habits. It’s also more difficult to make healthier choices when you’re feeling alone. 

As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Therefore, if you want a healthier life, seek out...

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How to Avoid Becoming Actively Sedentary

Most of us are familiar with the picture of sedentary living, but did you know it’s also possible to be actively sedentary? Actively sedentary is a new category of people who exercise for about an hour per day but are sedentary for the other 23 hours.

Mind-blowing, right? This means that someone who is meeting or even exceeding the American Heart Association’s physical activity guidelines for adults can still be sedentary.

Avoid becoming actively sedentary by adopting a movement-based lifestyle, in which movement is an integral part of your day to day activities. Small actions matter. Sit on the floor instead of the couch. Walk short intervals throughout your day, about 3–5 miles in total. Take your shoes off and let your feet experience some texture. Just keep yourself moving. The less your body stays in one position for a prolonged amount of time the better. Living this way is simple and requires no equipment, so there is no...

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Video: How and Why to Do the Forward Bend

 

One of the keys to core stability, minimizing low back pain, and powerful walking is being able to maintain a neutral pelvis throughout the day. If you're dealing with tight and/or weak hamstrings though, it's impossible to get yourself into a neutral pelvis position.

Due to excessive time spent in chairs, most of us have developed BOTH tight and weak hamstrings. The hamstrings are a large muscle group that runs up the back of the thigh, attaching just below the knee and to the base of the pelvis. This tightness of the hamstrings pulls your pelvis into a tucked position, rendering your core useless and putting excessive compression on your low back. Not a happy situation for your back or pelvic floor!

Our favorite way to lengthen the hamstrings is to do a standing forward bend. This is a stretch we've all seen before, but also has a lot of potential for some compensations we want to avoid. Most mistakenly believe the goal of this stretch is to touch the toes... However, as we...

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