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Why the easiest way mightn't be the best way

I recently read an article by an 81-year old Californian woman called Joyce. The way she moves around her house might give you food for thought.

At age 50 Joyce painfully injured the meniscus in her right knee, but over 30 years later she can easily sit on the floor. In fact, the floor is one of the places she sometimes sits to use her laptop or eat meals.

She can also climb the odd tree and she sleeps on a tatami board and mat.  While you mightn’t feel inspired to scale up trees or sleep on the floor, there could be a lesson for all of us in Joyce’s daily routine.

For example, she keeps some of her breakfast food items on a high shelf so she has to stretch up to reach them in the mornings. Pots and pans are on a low shelf so she has to squat down to get them.

Mostly, the advice for organising our kitchens is to store the things we use regularly at a convenient height, so we don’t have to reach and bend too much. Joyce has flipped that around — to her body’s advantage

And while she's chopping, stirring or waiting for water to boil, she checks her posture. Cleaning, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, dusting and vacuuming provide more opportunities for bending, squatting and stretching. She even stands on a half-cylinder of foam to stretch her calves while she brushes her teeth.

Joyce also walks to do errands, and when she wants to catch up with her friends, they go walking together.

A note of caution: Joyce has been practising this lifestyle since her 60s. She’s one of four women featured in Katy Bowman’s book Dynamic Aging (pictured above — Joyce is second from the left).

So she knows how to bend, squat and stretch to avoid injuring herself, and there might be things you need to learn to do to before you try to copy her. Your body might also have limitations you need to honour.

But as long as you take care of your body’s needs, go ahead and steal her ideas: (safely) rearrange a few things in your house to encourage you to move more. Or just make it a habit to stand up from a chair say 5-10 times a day. See if you can find ways to fit stretching, balancing or short walks into your daily life.

The take-home message is that while convenience is great, it can also be a trap. Take the easy option when you need to, but if we do everything the easy way, our body’s ability to function gets less and less.

Here’s a link to Joyce’s article

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Saturday, May 26, 2018 | Rhonda Anderson