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Statistics: Some not-so-fun health numbers

If anyone remembers David Letterman, this was a joke that he used regularly to poke fun at his home state of Indiana whenever he would bring up statistics in his monologue.

I recall it fondly whenever I hear that word. And now, I will bore you with statistics that may be very relevant and maybe even scary when it comes to your health and well-being. You’re welcome!

One third of the population over age 65 falls each year.

Falls are the leading cause of both nonfatal and fatal injuries among older adults. Every 19 minutes an older adult DIES from a fall.

On the bright side, falling is not a natural part of aging and you can improve your balance at any age!

Low back pain is the number one cause of disability in the world. About 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Of that, 39% of older people cannot participate in daily activities because of their back pain.

Here is the good news: Back pain is not a natural part of aging. and you can improve your back pain at any age.

Obesity rates in the U.S. are approaching 50% of the population for adults and near 20% for children.

YES! Children! These are the highest rates ever documented. Waist size is now a predictor of life expectancy. That is right! The bigger your waist measurement, the greater your risk for premature death.

I hope you are all aware of how this affects every single system in your body in a negative way. The good news is that gaining weight is not a natural part of aging and you can improve your weight and health as a result at any age.

The common thread here is that these problems and a host of other physical problems that we may encounter as we get older are preventable but also fixable with exercise. Sorry, there is no magic pill, no late-night infomercial with a product that will change your life forever. It is hard work through exercise.

Now, some of these issues require specialized knowledge so please make sure you seek that knowledge to get the best results.

A physical therapist is a great place to start as they are exercise experts. But even general exercise to any degree, such as walking, is much better than nothing.

It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, up to a 50% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer, up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer, a 30% lower risk of early death, up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis, up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture, a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults), up to a 30% lower risk of depression, up to a 30% lower risk of dementia.

What is next? Put down the soda, turn off your TV and get started. Not everyone exercises but everyone should!

The greatest adventures start with one small step. Take that first step today toward a healthier you and make it contagious. Tell your friends and family and especially any young people in your lives … get moving so these statistics don’t apply to you.

Be well, be good, and do good!

Joel J. Digris is a Schuylkill County resident with a master’s degree in physical therapy. He is currently employed by Achieva Rehabilitation as an outpatient provider of physical therapy and serves residents in Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties.

The Times News Media Group do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the author do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Times News. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.