Most of us are familiar with the term life span, which is a reference to how long a person will actually live. A newer and even more important term is health span, which means the length of time that a person is healthy and not just alive. Physical therapy can help with healthy aging by improving health span and assisting in a more successful aging process. We are all capable of successfully aging if we are intentional about the process.
Successful aging has a different meaning for each of us, but commonalities exist in most scenarios. In order to age successfully and improve health span, you will need to fully embrace what it will take to accomplish this goal. To live safely, independently, and comfortably, consider your physical, mental, and emotional health as well as your community and any financial implications.
Mobility is vital to independence. Independent mobility is different for everyone. It may be through ambulation or use of an assistive device such as a cane, walker or wheelchair. You need to maintain the ability to be independently mobile regardless of utilizing a mobility or assistive device.
Aspects of maintaining mobility include adequate balance, strength, and endurance. As a person ages, the likelihood that additional co-morbidities (other complicating medical conditions) is also likely higher. This means that addressing the foundations of mobility (such as balance, strength, and endurance) may not be a straight forward proposition. In fact, it may be somewhat complicated. We all know that maintaining your physical health is important, but complicated medical conditions can make some feel unsure how to proceed.
A physical therapist (PT) is uniquely qualified to understand your individual medical history as well as the interrelationship between “abnormal” and “normal” physiology. A PT can guide you on how to best and safely improve the foundations of mobility in the presence of complicating medical conditions.
Increasing your life span without increasing your health span is undesirable. We all want to have quality of life in our later years. A PT can help you to maintain your independence through mobility. Physical therapy can even be used as preventative medicine to ward off many of the prominent illnesses attributed to aging. Humans were designed to move much more than our current lifestyles afford us. Maintaining your mobility is critical for all body functions and is fundamental in avoiding chronic illness.
Three Simple Exercises for Balance and Strength
Here are three simple exercises that almost anyone can perform in order to help maintain balance and improve strength.
Written by: Ben Shatto
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Ben Shatto, PT, DPT, OCS. Ben is a physical therapist and Executive Director of Bluebird Home Health as well as the founder and editor of the website www.thePhysicalTherapyAdvisor.com. His website is dedicated to help proactive adults of all ages to understand how to safely self-treat and manage common musculoskeletal, neurological, and mobility related conditions in a timely manner so they can reach their optimal health.