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Compressed Morbidity

Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis

Live Long and Die Fast


Ever heard of compressed morbidity? I love this concept and have adopted it as a personal life goal! Compressed morbidity is the opposite of a long gradual decline, in which disease processes slowly rob you of your mobility, vitality, and independence. Simply stated, compressed morbidity is live long and die fast. It should be a primary life goal for everyone. If you are a 95-year-old out playing tennis and have a heart attack and die, that is compressed morbidity. So how does one get it? The only thing that nearly all researchers agree upon is that an active lifestyle, including exercise and a healthy diet, is the key. The late Jack LaLanne, a famous health guru, was the first to coin this phrase. Jack said that death was inevitable, but life was optional. He exercised up until his death at 96 years of age. Jack started as a trainer and inspiration for bodybuilders, but his true legacy was encouraging older people to stay active.

There are obstacles that may get in the way of staying active. Living alone, with limited transportation, creates restrictions. When my mom moved to her retirement apartment, she was able to “walk a mile” every day. She walked the hallways in the building; never worried about the weather or uneven surfaces. She went to a daily exercise class and played bridge two times a week. She continued her musical interest by singing with the Twilighters. She went to Bible study and art class. She visited with her neighbors and never missed a party in the community center. Her active senior lifestyle contributed to her health and sense of well-being. Indeed, she experienced compressed morbidity; at 95, she died after being ill for three days. Mom inspires me to keep learning, loving, and moving.

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