Living Longer and Healthier
THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 26 - NO. 6 - JUNE 2021
Young people want to live longer. Old people want to live healthier. They don't see much point in living longer if it only adds to their sick time. It turns out that your patients can make choices that help to achieve both goals.
A study (1) from Stanford University recently appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine. The authors studied 1,741 university alumni who were surveyed starting in 1962. They found that certain behavior patterns were predictors of subsequent disability. Their conclusion: "Not only do persons with better health habits survive longer, but in such persons, disability is postponed and compressed into fewer years at the end of life."
Multiple studies have shown the positive impact of "better health habits" on length of life. What's new here is the indication of a shorter period of disability, by as much as 5 years. That is what older people—and their insurance companies—are interested in. The "rules" are simple: Don't smoke, stay thin, and get plenty of exercise. No surprises.
In a reversal of stereotypes, younger people aren't getting the message, but their grandparents are. US children are more sedentary and obese than ever, and tobacco use is up significantly among teens (2). In people 65 and older, on the other hand, sports participation appears to be up. Sports-related injuries in this population rose 54% between 1990 and 1996, while the number of seniors grew 8% (3). And these weren't shuffleboard injuries: Active sports, such as bicycling, led the way.
In this, the isssue that officially marks our 25th birthday, The Physician and Sportsmedicine will help you encourage all these patients. We'll help you keep older patients moving, with articles like "Knee Arthritis in Active Individuals: Matching Treatment to the Diagnosis" by Paul A. Dowdy, MD, et al, page 43. And we won't forget the health of our future adults. Our Exercise Adviser, "Exercise for Overweight Kids," page 109, gives practical ideas for helping the next overweight child who walks through your door.
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