In Pursuit of the Golden Years

by Shauna Dorko, Owner, Sidney SeniorCare –

Imagine the incredible force it takes for a rocket ship to break through our atmosphere on its way to the moon … fighting the intense gravitational pull of our earth with every inch it climbs. That’s the challenge that we, as aging human beings, face every minute of every day. Not as obviously dramatic as a rocket’s ascent to the heavens, but more directly relevant as we travel through the decades of our lives.

We are well aware of the obvious signs of aging – grey hair, wrinkles, muscle and joint pain – but how often, if ever, do we think about how our planet’s gravitational force affects our bodies or its cumulative damage over a lifetime? Let’s just say that it’s probably not a conversation we have over coffee.

The pretty amazing reality is that after the age of just 20, we lose an average of a half inch in height every 20 years. Gravity exercises a constant downward pull on our faces, necks, shoulders, backs, chests, organs, legs and feet. Varicose veins, swollen feet, an aching back – these are all signs of gravity taking its toll. Perhaps the most noticeable effect of gravity is on our spine – it causes the discs to lose moisture throughout the day, resulting in a height loss between a half inch to three-quarters-of-an-inch daily! Some moisture is replenished overnight while we sleep, but not all.

The resulting domino effect is quite incredible and significant. Flexibility is lost, including the ability to move and bend freely. Organs begin to prolapse, falling from their original position in the body, causing them to function less efficiently and leading to bladder, kidney and digestive problems. Circulation issues prevent blood from flowing upwards to the heart and other vital areas. Also common is an increase in waist size, without actually gaining weight. Those “love handles” that seem to magically appear after several decades are actually “compression wrinkles” resulting from the direct compression of our spines.

Many health issues that we face as older adults, some simply annoying, others more serious, can be traced back to this force as old as time itself. Since most of us will remain earth bound for our entire lives, we cannot escape gravity, but we can certainly do our best to compensate for it and, thus, preserve our health. Regular exercise can help, including inversion therapy where the body is held upside down or at an inverted angle with the lower part of the body higher than the upper part. This form of spinal decompression elongates the spine, maintains proper organ position, improves circulation and increases flexibility.

Fascinating facts that help us to be more aware of our ever-changing physicalities.

Written in collaboration with Sherrin Griffin. We welcome all comments, suggestions and ideas for future columns. Please email us at with “Seniors” in the subject line.

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