Local Ironman competitor, Dr. John Anders writes about his training, marathons and musings.
If you're email inbox is like mine, it gets way too many messages every day, and many of them are never opened. You just click the delete button and go on to the next one. But as I scrolled through mine the other day, one that caught my eye was about a sitting-rising test that Brazilian researchers had developed and it was able to show some correlation to a person's longevity.
This new test gives a score of 0-5 for each movement (sitting and rising from the floor), with a combined score of 10 being the best, given to those who can sit and rise from the floor without any assistance from their hands or knees. For instance, if you put one hand down on the floor as you sat down and then used a knee and hand to get back up; you would receive a score of 7.
Over the course of the 6 year study, those who scored 0-3 were 6.5 times more likely to die prematurely than those who scored 8-10. Those who scored 3.5-5.5 were 3.8 times more likely to die and those who scored 6-7.5 were 1.8 times more likely. What makes this useful is that it measures at the most basic level, flexibility, strength, balance and motor coordination—things that are all necessary for living independently as we age.
Staying active is vital for maintaining proper body function and delaying the aging process. Over 50% of American men and 60% of women never engage in any physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week. That statistic alone should tell you why this country has weight and health problems.
To see an example of someone who is remaining active, one has to look no further than Bob Lida in Wichita. Two weeks ago he set 2 world records for sprinting, in the 75-79 year old age division. It probably doesn't hurt that he was a runner for KU back in the late 1950's, winning a Big 8 title in the quarter mile. But that was over 50 years ago and he is still going strong. The one record I really found impressive was for running 200 meters, which on a standard track would be half way around. His record time was 27.03 seconds. Almost 30 years younger than he is, I wouldn't be able to run that fast of a time. Maybe that's something to shoot for as I grow up.
But even if you exercise it's been shown that too much sitting is also associated with a shorter life span. Some research has shown that if you limit sitting to no more than 3 hours a day, you can add about 2 years to your life span. In that respect I'm fortunate to have a job where I stand most of the day. And while some of my family thinks it odd that I generally eat standing up, now I can tell them I am adding years to my life.
What other things can you do to enhance the quality of life and hopefully extend your life expectancy as well? First of all, get rid of the junk food. Eat as much unprocessed food as you can and avoid sugars. Exercise regularly and add some high intensity exercise as well; something like sprinting or CrossFit. Take your vitamins and get plenty of good quality sleep. And according to Dr. Mercola, of Mercola.com, "avoiding prescription drugs and the conventional medical system is a good idea if you want to live a long and healthy life." Data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics says that poisoning by prescription drugs has now surpassed auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S.
What things can you do to improve your life experience? It doesn't matter if you are 35, 75 or 105; there is always something that can be done better. First on my list is improving my flexibility. Live Well. Live Wellington.