You’ve no doubt seen this sign before. It is a sign often used near care homes up and down the country, to warn motorists of elderly people crossing the road.
The sign has sparked criticism from some for the way it depicts older people. Its not a debate I’m going to get involved with but it is interesting to note, if you take the walking stick out of the picture, the main characteristic used to distinguish an older person is their posture.
What is ‘good posture’?
Posture is simply body position. A good posture, whether walking, standing, sitting or lying, is a body position that minimises strain on the body.
How can poor posture age us?
As we get older we can expect a little wear and tear on our bodies. We demand a lot from them and it’s not unreasonable to expect that these demands will take their toll. If we consistently adapt bad postures or inefficient body positions, then we can expect them to accelerate the level of wear and tear. The sign definitely achieves its aim of depicting elderly people. A clear lesson to learn from this, is that bad posture ages us.
Another important lesson to learn from the sign is in the reason why it ages us. It is contentious – not all old people look like that, far from it in many cases. A small minority of people have medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, which can compromise posture. However, most of us have a large element of control over our posture. In the way we sit, stand and lift, we are deciding every day if that sign is going to be representative of us.
I recently treated a patient called Johnny. When I looked at his file I thought we’d made an administrative mistake, the file said he was 85 but the man in front of me looked more like 65. He stood tall and proud, moved spritely and had a real spring in his step.
As I got to know Johnny I found out how he maintained his youthful physique and vibrancy.
- Daily Exercise Routine – Johnny has a three-minute exercise regime he does every morning. A simple routine he used to get his joints moving and muscles stretched.
- Get moving and keep active – Johnny still drives but walks as much as possible, he is active every day playing bowls, meeting friends and doing volunteer work.
- Squat, don’t stoop – Johnny worked as a fire fighter. As a fire fighter he learned to lift properly and never forgot. When he bent to pick up his shoes he kept his back straight making sure the bend came from his hips and knees.
We can learn a lesson from Johnny, if we take care of our bodies they will take care of us. Good posture and an active lifestyle will do more to keep you looking young than any wrinkle cream or anti-aging potion you might find.