Longevity (and Physiotherapy)

Longevity (and physiotherapy)

Having recently watched Dan Buettner’s ‘Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones’ I have been putting a lot of thought into longevity and how this aligns with physiotherapy and what we preach. This show taps into the golden question on many minds; how can I live a long and happy life?

If you’re unfamiliar with Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones, I would recommend watching his series on Netflix. I believe everyone can get something out of this show. Dan is a National Geographic Fellow, a journalist, producer, author and explorer. Pairing up with National Geographic, he traveled the world in search of areas or villages that have a high percentage of individuals who are living longer than average. These areas Dan has labeled as ‘Blue Zones’. He identifies 5 towns that are blue zones; Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Loma Linda (California).

Here are the key factors he believes is contributing to longevity within these Blue Zones:

– Greece:

– Mountainous living

– The Mediterranean diet

– Herbal teas

– Napping

– Prioritising friends and family

– Loma Linda:

– Finding a sanctuary in time

– Maintaining a healthy BMI

– Doing regular and moderate exercise

– Give something back to the community

– Eating in moderation

– Sardinia:

– Eating a plant based diet accented with meat

– Put family first and celebrating the aging population

– Walking

– Laughing

– Okinawa:

– Having a reason you get up in the morning

– Gardening

– Social networks

– Continuing to get up on and off the floor to prevent falls

– Nicoya:

– A sense of purpose

– Family focus

– Social networks

– Physical work

In terms of common themes or trends amongst all the towns, a sense of connection, a balance diet and incidental movement are crucial to living a long life. In fact, each of the 5 Blue Zones have a focus on maintaining an active and physical life. This stems from upkeeping incidental exercise, physical work or active hobbies.

As physiotherapists we are passionate about preventing Sacropenia in our aging population. Sarcopenia is defined as “age-associated skeletal muscle condition characterised by low muscle mass, strength and physical performance”3. Sarcopenia is associated with increased falls risk, mortality, and health care costs. Both the nervous and muscular systems contribute to the functionality of the aging population2. Inextricably, the loss of muscle mass can lead to a loss of independence, which if occurs over an extended period can lead to frailty. Both frailty and sarcopenia can be prevented with early intervention and prevention. Hence ensuring continued motor planning, dual tasks, exercise, and social interaction are large contributors to longevity. By maintaining daily cognitive tasks and decisions, as well as undergoing incidental exercise, the phenomena of ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’ comes into play.

Ultimately, the underlying messages that are present in Buettner’s research is that keeping an active and social life, whilst also using all muscle groups is crucial to living a long and healthy life.

References:

– 1. https://www.bluezones.com

– 2. Nascimento, C.M., Ingles, M., Salvador-Pascual, A., Cominetti, M.R., Gomez-Cabrera, M.C. and Viña, J., 2019. Sarcopenia, frailty and their prevention by exercise. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 132, pp.42-49

– 3. Zanker, J., Sim, M., Anderson, K., Balogun, S., Brennan‐Olsen, S.L., Dent, E., Duque, G., Girgis, C.M., Grossmann, M., Hayes, A. and Henwood, T., 2023. Consensus guidelines for sarcopenia prevention, diagnosis and management in Australia and New Zealand. Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 14(1), pp.142-156.

Phoebe McGeoch – BeFit Training Physio Coogee

Phoebe McGeoch – BeFit Training Physio Coogee

Phoebe McGeoch is a physiotherapist based in Coogee in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Phoebe has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.

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