I have been thinking recently about what constitutes a minimum level of health before we start to classify ourselves as handicapped. After thinking through and dismissing all of the usual health tests (pushups, planks, beep test, etc etc…meh), the question occurred to me: “what would I expect a healthy 80 year old to be able to do?” Well, some basic strength might be alright, the ability to climb stairs, maybe support the upper body somehow with the arms, and perhaps some capacity to hang from the hands as well. Then I thought of some people I’ve seen, who potentially are capable of performing these activities to some degree, but who I wouldn’t classify as healthy, and that they were missing something even more fundamentally basic. What was it?
In 2004 and again in 2011 I travelled to China, and on both occasions I was blown away by the appearance of health in the elderly population. These people weren’t doing anything outrageous (well, some were), mainly just walking, dancing, or playing a game like badminton. Still, they seemed more spry, more nimble than their western counterparts, and indeed more nimble that a great majority of the western youth.
After some reflection, it occurred to me… That fundamental trait they had was an ability to rest in and move between several postures, even in to old age. I figured I would come up with a basic list to help you understand what I mean. Obviously there are infinite varieties of these, and combinations of several positions that you can use, but as best I can tell, our basic resting positions are: