Make your health span match your life span

It is our responsibility to “create a health span that matches our life span.”

Dr. Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Clinic for Functional Medicine coined this phrase and this idea was recently discussed by Tony Joy of The Mutual of Omaha at a recent meeting for the National Association of Women Business Owners.   And this blog post is to share what it can mean to you.    

Creating our own health span to match our life span consists of identifying holistic ways to improve our resilience and heal our bodies and minds.  Stress is one of the things that can negatively impact our overall wellness and a common stress these days is being party of a “sandwiched” generation.  The four NAWBO panelists discussed preparing and helping this “sandwiched” generation of women in four areas; financially, emotionally, legally, and physically to set them up for success as they age.  Sandwich years occur at the time when the head female in the household is responsible for caring for parent(s) and then also providing care for their own spouse, child, or other family member. How do these women find time to care for themselves?

The stress of being in the sandwiched generation seems to have both a physical and mental (depression) repercussion to their health.  It is often difficult to make time for self-care such as regular doctor visits, exercise, and scheduled time-off.  If they don’t have time or make time to care for themselves, what are the health ramifications when they look forward to retirement?

Aging in our American society is associated with having less function, becoming forgetful, incontinent, and no longer being able to take care of yourself.  Ultimately losing independence and being placed in some sort of home for the aged is often the result. Ironically, at the same time, most of us think that aging “badly” won’t happen to us personally, but statistics show that women face unique challenges and make up 70% of the nursing home population.

If you read Dr. Hyman’s article, he explains that aging does not have to equate with losing function, memory, and physical capacity.  Two additional resources that back up his view are also found in “Biomarkers, The 10 Keys to Prolonging Vitality”, by William Evans PHD and Irwin H. Rosenberg, MD, and “Play as if Your Life Depends on It”, by Frank Forencich.

How do we reverse, delay, or prevent what we think of as typical aging?  Studies and research that I found discussing the impact of physical activity on aging indicated that moderate intensity exercise is the way to go.  More specifically walking briskly 30 minutes each day improves both your physical and mental well-being as you age.  Our own in house experience at FBD shows us that more variations of physical activity are required, however, to thoroughly enjoy those golden years and remain independent.

For the discussion panel mentioned above, I surveyed four women ages 60 – 78 at FBD that had incorporated strength training into their lifestyle over the years. Strength training ranged from 6 years to 20 years of a regular strength training regimen.  Each of these women listed strength training at least 2 X per week, walking almost every day, and usually one other activity at least one time per week. These are active women. What do they see as the benefit?  There responses:

·         “I am more physically fit than most members in my peer group.”

·         “I seem to have less aches and pains and less complaints regarding my health.”

·         “I’m able to control my weight much easier.”

·         “I can keep up with and play with my grandchildren.”

·         “I sleep better through the night.”

·         “Part of the year, I do some traveling and get out of my regular exercise routine. During these times I notice a negative impact both a physically and mentally when I’m not exercising like I usually do.”

·         “I had to have some physical therapy for an inflamed tendon, which required a lot of balance work. My PT commented about my great balance.  I contribute my balance in large part due to the strength training and balance work that I do at FBD. The healing process was much quicker.”

Over the past 28 years as FBD has aged and we’ve seen our clientele age with us, we have adopted an exercise protocol incorporating strength, mobility, functional movement, and flexibility as the best way to live better longer.  Rob Hudson and Steve Smith have studied and have decades of practical experience in this area and share their knowledge with the rest of our staff.  Adam Shadwick holds a certification from the Functional Aging Institute, and Joey Levielle teaches an awesome Balance and Mobility Workshop monthly for all ages.  Let us help you make your health span match your life span.


Author:  Lisa Hudson/Judi Hosfeld