This commercial for Life Alert came out in 1987 when I was a senior in high school. My friends and I had lots of laughs yelling "I've fallen and I can't get up," most often during nights that involved too much Milwaukee's Best and too much Duran Duran (I know, we all had questionable taste at 17).
We were young and had no (recent) experience with feeling physically helpless. More than anything the bad acting and bad hair in the commercial made this very serious problem seem funny. (The bad hair on me makes everything from the 80's pretty hilarious).
But for elderly Americans, falling is no laughing matter.
Check out these statistics from the CDC:
- One out of three older adults (those aged 65 or older) falls each year but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- In 2013, 2.5 million nonfatal falls among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 734,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
- In 2012, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, were $30 billion.
In a recent Barbell Shrugged Podcast, Dr. Andy Galpin talked about three factors that predicted longevity. Number 1 was leg strength. It makes a lot of sense...the stronger your legs are the less likely you are to fall, the less likely you will be injured if you do fall and the more likely you can pick yourself up and go about your business.
Want to test your leg strength? Try the sit test developed by Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo.
The other two factors that predicted longevity? VO2 Max, i.e. how well your body uses oxygen and muscle mass.
No mention of cholesterol levels, body fat levels or triglycerides.
What's our recommendation to build leg strength? Squat
To up your VO2 Max? Squat a lot
To build muscle mass? Squat
It's been awesome to see our, ahem, mature athletes (of which, I am one) not only maintain but gain muscle mass with additional strength training. Even more awesome is knowing that they are gaining durability, resiliency, capability AND longevity at the same time.