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6 do it Yourself Tests to Help Keep the Young in You

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

July 26, 2020 — There aren’t too many people who don’t want to feel, act, and look younger. But, as each of our birthdays adds a bigger number, that seems harder and harder.

While there is no real fountain of youth, yet, there are some simple steps anyone can take to delay the effects of aging. Spend a few minutes to take these simple tests. It could lead to feeling better and looking younger.

Caution. Do not undertake any of these exercises without consulting with your doctor, or if you feel discomfort or pain.

Tests to help you stay young:

Take these simple tests and then share the results with your doctor. He or she can use them to help evaluate how you are doing, and what you can do to improve.

Sitting and standing. How you sit and stand is critical in so many ways. Doing it correctly not only keeps you looking young, it makes you stronger. When you sit, can you do it without using your hands? Ditto with standing, do you need to hold on to something in order to stand up? One evaluation that physical therapists use is to see how much you have to rely on your hands to get up out of a chair. The other is speed – how long does it take to sit and stand 5 times in a row, arms crossed against the chest? A good result for someone in their 70s is 12.6 seconds or less. Long term: practice not using your hands whenever you stand up – it you will keep your leg muscles in shape for the long haul.

Posture. Put a chair in a place where you can see your profile in a mirror. Sit, and then stand up and look in the mirror. Is your back straight, and are your shoulders pulled back? Unfortunately, there is no better way to look old than to have rounded shoulders and be hunched forward. Every time you stand up, practice stacking your spine once you are vertical. Once you do that, center your head over your spine, and pull your shoulders back. This can be hard to overcome after a lifetime of sitting hunched over a desk, but you can do it!

Walking. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal Dr. Nathan LeBrasseur, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, said that people should start working on their health early. For example, a person in their 50s should be able to power walk a quarter of a mile at a brisk pace in less than 6 minutes and 40 seconds. If you are slower than that report it to your doctor. Another test is to see how far you can walk in 6 minutes. If less than 350 meters, that would be worrisome for that person in their 50’s.

Standing on one leg. You should be able to stand on one leg for at least 10 seconds if you under 70. Practice while you are brushing your teeth. In that WSJ article, Dr. Natasha Bhuyan said she believes this test is an excellent prediction of long term physical health.

Push-ups. Dr. LaBrasseur believes that a man in his 50s and 60s should be able to do at least 10 push-ups. If not, it is a confirmation you are losing your strength. In one test of people with an average age of 40, those who could do more than 40 tended to live longer than others. Women would have a different exercise or metric.

Mental. There are various mental tests to determine your mental capacity and any deterioration. Some are free and others you must pay for. You can take them and ask your doctor for an evaluation. The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) is a short screening test you can take at home. It is used to help detect early signs of cognitive impairments. The Clock Draw Test and Simple 3 Word Memory Test are other variants.

Bonus tip:

Stay active. In Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s excellent book, “Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age“, he postulated the number one key to keeping your brain young is daily physical activity. Much better than crossword puzzles or Wordle, regular exercise is the best thing you can do. Apparently, getting the blood flowing has positive mental effects.

For further reading:
Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age“ – Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dementia – Or Ordinary Age-Related Change?

Posted by Admin on July 25th, 2022

5 Comments »

  1. This is Just Smart!! & Forever Young!!

    by BillyBogey — July 26, 2022

  2. “The single best predictor of the need to go into a nursing home is how strong your legs are.”
    – Dr. Walter M. Bortz, geriatrician; professor of medicine, Stanford University

    So, let’s make sure our legs are strong! We want to avoid falls. According to Bortz, that poor balance is from “lack of use” of your legs. So, use it (your legs) or you may lose it (your ability to live on your own).

    Jan Cullinane, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Wiley, 2022)

    by Jan Cullinane — August 11, 2022

  3. Thanks, Jan, this is a very interesting comment and great advice. Living in a community that is very walkable is helpful, but if not you have to make more of an effort to get out there. I live in a town that does have sidewalks throughout, but we also have a lot of snow and ice in the winter. However, we have a great Y that has a nice indoor track so I don’t have any excuse not to walk everyday.
    Another piece of advice I would like to add came from my doctor recently concerning hydration and said seniors really need to pay attention and make sure they drink water or something like Gatorade several times a day.

    by Jem — August 11, 2022

  4. Great article and suggestions we need to be aware of. Posture advice is important. kind of a funny story is my sister and I have a small vegetable garden together located on her property. We put up a trail camera just to see what wildlife visited and we have not been disappointed. There have been foxes, raccoons, a coyote and a bear. But what scared us most were the pictures of the two of us both hunched over that the camera caught everyday. Needless to say we are both eating the healthy vegetables we grew but have also started exercise and yoga classes, and often remind each other to straighten up. I had no idea my posture had gotten so bad. As this blog states there is no better way to look old.

    Editor’s Comment: So interesting Barb. Nothing like seeing ourselves in a video or mirror to bring home what we really look like. Of course after stooping over to pull out weeds or whatever, it is hard to get back up straight! Thanks for sharing.

    by Barb — August 11, 2022

  5. Great blog article and comments!

    I’ve noticed that aging, underused muscles weaken so gradually that we may not notice the loss of strength until there’s a seminal moment. Mine came about 5 years ago at age 65. I needed something from the top shelf in a cabinet over my kitchen counter. Didn’t want to bother my husband to reach for it and was too lazy to fetch the step stool.

    I attempted to do that quick move most of us master as young children and use throughout our lives: stand with my back against the counter palms flat on the counter behind me. Jump up a few inches while my arm muscles help hoist my body into a sitting position on the counter. Grab whatever is needed from the cabinet, then half hop – half slide back into a standing position on the floor.

    To my shock and distress, try as I might, I couldn’t jump quite high enough anymore, nor were my arm muscles strong enough to assist me. My BMI is in the 21s, so the problem wasn’t with moving too much weight. My arm and leg muscles had become too weak.

    Surrender was not an option.

    From then on I began hopping in sets of ten while waiting for my coffee to brew. (Bonus: turns out hopping is very good for bone strengthening and balance.) Ten high hops on one foot, ten on the other, then ten on both. I also began strengthening my arms with morning counter push ups
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED9WXWdPM64

    Within a couple of weeks I was again able to hop up on my counter and access that upper cabinet without bothering to find a step stool or my husband. Five years later, I still do my hops and push ups and continue to be able to hoist myself on that counter with ease.

    Use it or lose it isn’t necessarily a permanent condition. With effort we can reclaim some of what has slipped away.

    by JCarol — August 12, 2022

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