People are exceedingly mobile these days. We can jet halfway across the world at a moment’s notice, check email on our phones, hop in the car and be in another state in five hours, conduct business from anywhere, transfer schools, and shave while reading the paper on the morning commute. Social mobility, financial mobility, spatial mobility, information mobility. Mobile workforce, mobile phone, Google Mobile. Yeah, clearly, mobility is highly prized.
What about joint mobility?
Too many people discount, or even outright ignore, this crucial aspect of physical fitness. Raw strength, speed, and stamina are all important, especially to athletes or weekend warriors, but everyone of any age or fitness level needs the ability to move their limbs and joints through their full range of motion as ordained by nature. That goes for grandmothers, teens, and couch potatoes alike. Though not everyone will be picking up barbells or running sprints or long jumping, we all have to function in a three-dimensional world. We all have space and gravity with which to contend if we’re planning on enjoying and experiencing all life offers, and that’s accomplished by moving through spatiality and against gravity. To thrive in this environment, we require the full, unfettered use of our limbs, joints, and muscles. Losing the shoes is a big step; so is getting strong and fit. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is regaining and maintaining maximum joint mobility.
I mention the distinction between thriving and surviving quite often on this blog, but I’m not sure I make it often enough, or explicitly. So, here it is: surviving is not thriving. There’s a massive difference, and though the two states of being ideally concur, we too often conflate the two as a rule, to our ultimate detriment. In my opinion, life’s true barometer is experience gained, rather than raw time accrued. What’s the point of living to a ripe old age if you never taste the fruit? Longevity coupled with happiness and experience, good. Sheer longevity for longevity’s sake, miserable, diseased, and decrepit? Bad.
So, you’re 56 – or 36. Maybe 27 or 42. Perhaps 68. (You get the idea.) Your driver’s license says it all (whether you want it to or not). But the buzz lately says there’s age and then there’s “Real Age.” Yes, your kitchen cabinets, weight set, medicine cabinet, diploma, car, even your speed dial apparently tell the real story your driver’s license (or dear mother) can’t.
The real story here is your “real” biological age as supposedly determined by your responses to approximately 150 questions. They run the gamut – from exercise routine to driving habits to nutrition to stress factors. At the end of the quiz, you receive a number as well as a rundown of practices that added to or reduced your biological age. According to the site, the quiz was based on “125 different factors that can influence the rate of aging” as determined by review of 25,000 medical studies. Some 27 million people have taken the quiz.
Diet is a powerful force as we say time and again. Most of the studies revolve around the physical aspects: inflammation, disease risk, body composition, blood markers, etc. But there’s the promise a good diet can offer other elements of health, including cognitive performance. With climbing rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s, these correlations are nothing to shake a stick at.
In that vein, this recent study caught our eye. Researchers from the University of Muenster in Germany followed subjects who had been grouped into three practices: a caloric restriction group (30% cut in daily intake), a group that increased their consumption of essential fatty acids (20% increase), and a control group. After three months, all subjects retook tests focused on memory activities. The group that cut its calories showed a “significant increase” in scores related to verbal memory. The apparent cognitive improvement could be correlated, the researchers say, with “decreases in fasting plasma levels of insulin and high sensitive C-reactive protein.” No noteworthy changes were seen in the other subjects.
Conventional wisdom (our dear, dear friend) tells us that without the constant application of skin creams and face lotions and mineral moisturizers, we’ll become haggard parchment people with wrinkled mugs that’d put an elderly Sharpei to shame. It seems to have worked, too. Most bathroom mirrors conceal impressive caches of creams, lotions, and oils, and many people instinctively and compulsively lather the stuff on any chance they get (similar to our infatuation with Purell, but that’s another post altogether). But, as we’ve often wondered, is confronting a totally natural occurrence – dry skin – with unnatural methods and products really such a good idea?
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