Chronic Pain: Reversing the Effects of Aging Through Mind and Body Strengthening

Dr. Mark Borigini Health Guide
  • There is an idea that is becoming a reality even as I write this entry this warm August evening. And it is nice to know the source of that idea, and the force of will that is making it all happen.


    The source is Sheldon Zinberg, MD. His is the force of will that is making the doubters become believers in reversing the effects of aging through mind and body strengthening.


    The idea is "Nifty After Fifty," manifested as a growing chain of locations in Southern California dedicated to "well-being and lasting independence." Among many things, this program offers cosmetic treatments, memory training, driver training, nutritional programs, and full-body strength training for today's young senior citizen in a non-threatening environment (unlike the local fitness center, too often populated by the "beautiful people" that can make so many of us feel inferior,if not downright uncomfortable).

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    The arrival of such an enterprise is none too soon, as the population ages, and the medical community struggles with ways to keep the more senior among us healthy, functional, and pain free.


    Research clearly shows that strength training programs for older citizens are considered of prime importance in treating and preventing chronic pain. Strength training is an excellent example of how to change perceptions of aging and make physical activity personally relevant. Research documents an average strength loss of about 1.5% each year from peak strength in early adulthood, resulting in a loss of about 30% by age 60, 45% by age 70, and 60% by age 80.


    Cutting through the numbers, losing half of one's strength would be similar to going about daily tasks while carrying another person of equal weight on your back.


    "Nifty After Fifty" offers medically supervised strength training which accomplishes the following: 1) keeps joints moving, preventing that nagging feeling of stiffness; 2) strengthens the muscles around the joints so there is less stress on the joints; 3) increases flexibility by stretching sore muscles; 4) controls body weight, reducing stress on the joints; 5) encourages the release of endorphins, chemicals found naturally in the body which reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being; 6) allows for more rapid healing, as many types of low back pain become better with the proper exercise.


    Dr. Zinberg himself is looking at age 80 shortly after the new decade begins, but you wouldn't know it, as he energetically spreads the word of empowerment through mind and body training to the senior population through his writings on aging, through his appearances on national television, and through his brainchild, "Nifty After Fifty."


    His is a force of will to be reckoned with. His vision for a healthy older America needs to be appreciated. We will all be the better for it if we listen to what he--and the research--shows: fight frailty with strengthening, and there will be a little less pain in our world.

Published On: August 19, 2007