“I have fallen and I can’t get up” may have been considered a joke in the ’80s and ’90s because of the famous Life Alert TV commercial. However, falls are a serious matter, especially as we age. Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury death in people over the age of 65 in the U.S.
One way to avoid falls is to practice getting up and down. We have written in the past about taking classes to help prevent falls. But, around the world, those classes aren’t necessary. In places where sitting on the ground is more common, people are more practiced in getting up and down.
Some cultures favor yoga mats over lounge chairs, even as people age. People in Okinawa, Japan, are about three times more likely to reach 100 than folks in the U.S. They spend a lot of time sitting and squatting on the ground as they go about their day.
“I sat for two days with a 104-year-old woman who got up and down off the floor 30 times,” said Dan Buettner. “It makes for better balance and flexibility and probably healthier backs and fewer falls.” Dan Beutner is a longevity expert who has been studying centenarians in the longest-living communities on Earth for decades.
A 2014 study found that the ability to get up from the floor is a predictor of longevity in people ages 51 to 80. People who had the hardest time getting up were five to six times more likely to die during the follow-up period. A more recent 2020 study agreed with the findings. Sitting on the floor helps you maintain strength and function. It improves balance, stability and coordination, increases mobility, strengthens your core and legs and can aid your posture. While we’re usually told that sitting too much is unhealthy, sitting on the floor for 15 to 30 minutes daily can help you move more!
Biomechanist Katy Bowman, author of the book “Dynamic Aging,” said, “Our beds, couches and chairs, as comfortable as they are, prevent us from making it down to the floor. And so we must slowly start using our body in ranges of motion that have been stifled by use of furniture, until we redevelop enough strength in our legs, hips and arms to carry us more easily.”
She said that by practicing chair squats, you can train your body to be more able to dip low and eventually sit on the ground and rise easily. That could potentially add years of health to your lifespan. So, ditch your lounger and start making your way to the floor today!