The Rising Costs of Falling Down - Can You Protect Your Body?

     In 2000, the CDC estimated that the Medicaid costs associated with adult falls was $19 billion. By 2015, that number had ballooned to $32 billion. Nearly a million older adults are hospitalized each year due to injuries sustained from a fall, and the average cost for a hospital visit: $30,000. But these are hard medical costs. What about the other costs?

  • The price that a person pays to rehabilitate after an injury.
  • The cost to adjust one's home and schedule to accommodate for slower, more careful movement. 
  • The cost of lost income and productivity.
  • The price of not living the same kind of life. Of being fearful that another fall might occur.

Quality of Life
     This last one seems to hurt the most, because it's the paralyzing fear that alters the quality of life that older people live. Going out for a walk, meeting friends for dinner, traveling with family, and attending cultural events abruptly halt for many older people recently injured by falls, or close calls. But even getting around at home can change dramatically. Less gardening and yard work, less going up and coming down the stairs, some don't even want to get out of bed for a trip to the bathroom. 

Functional Survival
     Survival training is generally associated with boot camp workouts and other intensive movements. But Functional Survival is the how inSHAPE describes exercises that help prevent falls. This programming blends into other elements of our exercise regimens, but not just with our older clients (and we work with several in their 80's and one who is turning 90 this year). Younger adults need specific movements to prevent the degradation of body parts that stabilize the body. The Wall St. Journal reported earlier this year that people as young as 19 years old, show signs of structural aging due to sedentary life. Click here to download the article. Functional Survival is important for everyone.

     Functional Survival doesn't require a gym or any special equipment. The basis tenets are stability and strength of the head and neck, the flexibility of the trunk, the response of the hips and legs, and the practice of going down and getting up. 

  • Equilibrium and posture are important elements of strength and stability that decrease the chance of falls. Balance diminishes as people get older (or as the article implies, balance may be problematic for young people too), but simple exercises wake up the vestibular system and the small muscles that support the body.
  • Being able to turn the head and body are of utmost importance in the prevention of falls as well as from injury if a fall occurs. The flexibility of the neck, the middle back, and rotation at the waist are points of practice for this effort. Exercises that support these three areas boost your proprioception, or your knowledge of where your body is in relation to the ground. But also, if you fall, you want to do as much as you can to protect your body. Turning the body to minimize impact, so that you don't fall flat on your back or front, helps. 
  • Finally, you need to be able to get down onto the floor and get up. Even if you need help by way of a table, chair, or the wall. Your hips, legs, and butt were engineered to act as springs. Even rusty, these springs compress to squat down to the ground. The energy they store is released as you get back up, so interacting with gravity is a vital component of these programs no matter what your age.

Falls happen. No two falls are exactly alike, and since no two humans are alike, the fate of two unknowns leaves us with a sense of mystery. But you can do your part. Protect yourself. Take good care of yourself. And get in touch if you need some help. 

Ramadan Health and Fitness Tips

     inSHAPE was recently asked to consult with a Muslim organization on staying healthy through the holy month of Ramadan. This is a first for our company, which will turn TWENTY years old this autumn. Before I get to the suggestions that we have, I am compelled to express how honored we are to serve all New Yorkers and run our business in this amazing city. Living a long, healthy life requires exercise and some attention to proper eating, which means it matters not what race, age, or religion you are. We are so happy to offer these tips to our friends in the Muslim community.

     Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar calendar of the Islamic faith and is celebrating through the practice of fasting from sunrise until sunset. Also observed is the practice of charitable work, positive thoughts, and spirituality. Consuming no food or water over the entire day is challenging in and of itself, but our team was contacted because many people end up gaining weight as a result of the month-long observance. How can weight gain be prevented?

     First, the pre-sunrise meal (suhur) should satisfy basic tenets of nutrition. Protein, fat, and carbohydrates should be in balance. Cooking methods that do not drain food of vitamins and minerals are a must! Fried foods, heavily salted foods, and concentrations of fat and processed carbohydrates all lead to dehydration of the body, which is a main health concern during this period of time.

     Construct meals around raw vegetation: fruits, roots, and shoots! These foods naturally hydrate the body and metabolize slowly. Add beans and/or seeds, whole grains, and vegetal fats for the morning meal. In the evening, the premise is the same, with perhaps smaller portions and more fluids. Flavor up these basic meals with a bouquet of spices, such as fresh turmeric, paprika, peppers, parsley, cloves, etc. 

     Low impact functional exercises, stretching, and deep breathing should still be included in your daily routine. High impact training, running, and other sports are really not recommended unless you have experience with extreme conditions and/or you plan to run at 4 am. However, your energy level and metabolism will slow during the fasting day, so employ a simple regimen of balance exercises, coupled with a focus on core work both in prone (planks) and on your back (hip bridge exercises) in order to maintain your fitness level and prevent unwanted fatigue.

     If you need to LEARN any of these exercises, please sign up for a free account at, where each routine is a concatenated stream of 60-section exercises, guided by my voice. And let me know if you need anything else. I can be reached at Best wishes during Ramadan and beyond! 


Is the Running Fad Over?

     During a period of about 15 years, from the late nineties until 2013, the number of participants in road races increased by more than 300%. Over the last couple of years, these registration numbers have plateaued. For longer distance events, the numbers continue to increase; however, for shorter races, participation has actually declined. A reporter called inSHAPE this week to ask whether we thought that this information meant that the running fad might be over. 

     Quick answers:
     1. Was/is race running a fad: YES!
     2. Is it ending: HOPEFULLY!
     3. Why: FADS DON'T WORK!

       Fad diets and fad exercise come and go. Like Jane Fonda style aerobics, race running may have hit its mathematical peak but will never fade away. We don't want it to. Everyone should be running. Maybe not running marathons, maybe not running races at all. But running, the act of accelerated self-locomotion is critical to quality of life.

       Running, jogging, skipping, fast walking, sprinting, hiking, and strolling can all be practiced by people of all ages. Congenital and severe orthopedic conditions may limit your range, but forward movement leads to more movement and ultimately, to a higher quality of life. Running, however, demands an education in mechanics, and it requires practice, and patience. 

       Even if you are relatively fit, do a little homework and/or speak to a coach about running mechanics and other details before you begin to run regularly. Two-three weeks of prep work can help you launch into a new fitness regimen that you can truly do anywhere, at any age, without fancy equipment and an expensive gym membership. Get in touch with Coach Kim if you have any questions: