We all know that staying healthy in today’s world depends on managing stress in our life while maintaining physical independence. Our brain is overloaded from a relentless stressful barrage of technological discoveries, while our body is unloaded by reduced movement throughout the day. Successful management relies on processing the intensity and frequency of the stimulus with adequate pause to allow for recovery. We have learned from space research the importance of using, as a natural stimulus the force of Gravity (G) that surrounds us. Living in the microgravity of space induces faster aging changes than on Earth, as witnessed by muscle and bone atrophy and a host of degenerative changes. Research on Earth has proven that the body declines rapidly when G-deprived. It led to the description of the Gravity Deprivation Syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by a metabolic dysfunction broadly evidenced by insulin resistance, insulin-mediated inflammation, oxidative stress, ectopic fat storage and organ infiltration with disturbed substrate oxidation affecting not only mobility, but health in general.
Conditions of relative G-deprivation – sitting, lying down during the day, and reduced mobility of aging are a continuum on the G scale, and respond in a uniformly similar way to G deprivation. For instance, prolonged uninterrupted sitting is an independent risk for poor health and premature aging. Continuous standing, or exercise once a day are not the answer. Yet a body in motion stays healthy longer. Experience now reveals that it is consistent low intensity, intermittent, high frequency movement throughout the day, involving postural change in the field of G, to be a profoundly powerful intervention for health and longevity.
Dr. Joan Vernikos is former Director of Life Sciences at NASA and a well-known expert in stress research and healthy aging. Recruited from Ohio State University by a nascent NASA for her stress expertise, Dr. Joan later pioneered research on how living in a microgravity environment adversely affected the health of astronauts. Her research led her to believe there were many similarities between the effects of microgravity on the physiology of astronauts living in Space, and the aging process here on Earth. In 1998 she was instrumental in the return to space of American hero John Glenn at the age of 77. Bringing her ideas to the public eye, Dr. Joan has published a series of books that present simple effective [plans for maintaining good health throughout life. They include The G-Connection: Harness Gravity and Reverse Aging (1904), Stress Fitness for Seniors (2009), Sitting Kills, Moving Heals (2011) and Designed to Move (2016). Her last two books show how sedentary lifestyles contribute to poor health and early death and how movement that challenges gravity can dramatically improve health and longevity.
Dr. Peter & Cheryl Polack