We all want to be fit for life. Able to do the things we WANT and NEED to do. Including the ability to stand, reach, and get up on your feet.
Fall Risk and Ground Disconnection
A recent study looked at the connection between person’s risk of falling and their ability to sit down and stand up from the ground. The researchers found that middle-aged and elderly individuals who use both hands and knees to get up are 7 times more likely to die within 6 years, compared to those who can stand up without hand support.
Individuals who can stand up with minimal support have better balance, flexibility and superior strength. Our long-term health and functional independence rely heavily on our ability to get down and up from the ground. And this concerns more than just our parents and grandparents…
Slips, Trips, and Falls…
While some may think fall risk is only for the elderly, many young adults in their 30’s and 40’s die every year from fall-related injuries. These young, yet unfit adults battle to move their bodies through everyday life…
Meanwhile, there are much older individuals, the matured movers, 80,90,100+ years of ages fantastically fit- walk, run, dance, and play with grand-kids down on the ground. Twice the age, yet twice as fit.
MOVE it, or you LOSE it
The problem lies not in how old you are but falls in line with how strong your connection to the ground. As one ages and “slows down” they spend less time physically active and more time looking for ways to outsource their daily movements. They avoid common activities such as lifting, reaching, and getting their hands a little dirty. Other people or services do the dirty work for them.
Instead of hunting and gardening, they go to the market. Instead of walking around the market, they ride the motorized scooter. Hell, now you can use the internet to deliver food to your doorstep. Sure, outsourcing your physical efforts makes things easy and convenient, but this physical inactivity is causing widespread physical deconditioning and knocking years off your lifespan.
No matter what your age, you must be active in order to stay active. If you stop strength training, you will lose strength. Stop training your balance, you will lose your balance. Avoid physical activity, lose your cardiorespiratory endurance and the ability to do future activities begins to slip away…
Bottom line is: In order to maintain functional fitness, you must continue moving your body.
Because, like anything, as soon as you stop, it starts to go away…
Every moment, every second, of every day you are always adapting. You are constantly growing bigger, smaller, stronger, weaker, shorter, longer, more efficient, less efficient… (the list goes on). How you sit, stand, walk, eat, sleep… How much water, sunlight, and oxygen you get. Life is an ever-changing process of adaptation.
And if like most Americans, you spend the greater part of your day sitting, you are adapting to the position of a chair. You probably have unnaturally poor posture, tight hips, and low back pain. Like most average adults, you suffer the common aches and pains shared by all chronic sitters across the world…
A recent study at Harvard linked prolonged sitting to heart disease, diabetes, and premature death. “People who sat for prolonged periods of time had a higher risk of dying from all causes– even those who exercised regularly”. Just look around you, we’re living in a widespread epidemic of physical disease and inactivity– while the majority of these people sit all day.
AND even regular exercise cannot undo the damage of sitting in a chair for hours on end. YOU NEED TO MOVE.
But, all sitting is not all inherently evil. There are natural ways to sit, and unnatural ways to sit. Naturally, sitting on the floor requires you engage the hip, back, and abdominal muscles to support a balanced midsection- naturally aligning your spine. Good sitting posture requires actively engaged postural muscles. In contrast, an overly supportive chair shuts down muscle activity leading to a collapsed and failing posture.
When you look at places around the world where chairs are less common, you see people squatting and sitting on the ground with great ease. Similar to ancestral humans, these people are better balanced, more mobile, and overall more physically fit. When you sit on the ground, you rest in the position humans have evolved from.
While sitting on the ground gives good benefit, the greater power comes when you actually move around on the ground. Ground movement stimulates a host of beneficial effects to the body, such as increase bone growth, muscle strength, and more mobile joints. We even see the silly, nagging, physical aches and pains begin to disappear. Connected to the ground, your body moves and functions more naturally. Your whole human organism functions in greater alignment as a whole– how nature intended you to be.
- Bones increase density, strength
- Muscles increase in strength, power
- Joints increase lubrication, mobility
- Brain and Nerves increase activity, learning, performance
Practicing ground movement gives all the same benefits as body weight training because that’s what ground movement is– training your body using your body weight. Many of the commonly accepted effects of aging can be reversed by consistently practicing a wild variety of instinctual ground movements.
…And the best place to begin learning ground movement is with learning how to get down and up from the ground.
The “Get Up”
Your ‘Get Up’ is the way you get up from the ground.
Early human ancestors first began standing upright and walking on two legs beginning somewhere around 6 million years ago, according to fossil records. More recently, when you watch as a baby grows, you will see he or she learns to stand up between months 6-12. By practicing your ‘Get Up’ you can ensure you maintain the functional mobility of at least a 1-year-old child.
There are many strategies you could use to get down and up from the ground. It is important you choose a strategy that is safe for you.
Here are 2 common ways to Get Up…
1. Squat ‘Get Up’
2. Kneeling ‘Get Up’
Power of Practice
Get down and up from the floor at least once a day. If you feel fearful, or uncomfortable getting down and up alone, invite a friend or family member to practice with you. Or, seek out a trained movement professional, such as a physical therapist, who can help you conquer your fears and build confidence with your movements.
Be safe, and keep moving.