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Dean Sbragia, the CEO of Medical Fitness Solutions, shares about the comorbidities of aging and tips for mitigating without drugs. 

The sequelae of aging can be cruel, with neurological, musculoskeletal and hormonal changes creating health issues that can affect the quality of life and health care costs. Breaking these down into bite-size issues helps us address proactively, or post-event, best practices to forestall or recover from these health challenges.

Sarcopenia: Loss of Muscle Mass

This can be treated and reversed at any age, given proper technique and safety considerations. There is much ado about “functional exercise” in commercial fitness circles. But what is functional for an aging individual? Grocery shopping, tolerating airline travel, picking up grandchildren, or more metabolically demanding activities like gardening, golf and pickleball? All of these activities require muscular strength and flexibility.

We recommend a slow, controlled anabolic eliciting strength training regimen that has been in use in over 1,000 rehab and senior centers, with zero reported injuries and proven functional improvement outcomes.

Osteopenia and Osteoporosis 

The standard of care in the acute health circle is prescribing calcium and typically, limiting cortical bone shedding — osteoclastic — activity drugs. Taking calcium to improve bone health is analogous to drinking a protein drink then taking a nap. Bone and muscle need to be stressed to create growth. With bone, it is a little more challenging, as it takes multiples of body weight for lower extremity bones to grow and adapt. By employing osteogenic isometric loading, most people can create the axial force in the bone to elicit this growth. This is all done without drugs and in only a few minutes a week.

Balance and Neurological Issues

Finding productive strategies to treat balance and neurological issues is a little more challenging. This is because many of these issues are degenerative and they manifest with other problems. However, a very effective approach is to baseline cognition and balance, then use modalities that progressively create adaptation to stimuli. Combining visual, vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli — along with tasks — shows promise in halting and reversing many of these neurological concerns. This combination creates brain-derived neurological factors and possible neurogenesis, or regrowth of neurons in the brain.

Pain and Flexibility

It is difficult to begin, or to continue any active intervention when an individual is in pain or lacks the flexibility to participate. Using controlled instability — whole-body vibration — allows us to create a mechanoreceptor block of pain, and overcome golgi tendon response when stretching, with a bonus of subconscious proprioceptive response and better balance.

Medical Nutrition

Even the best adaptive training program can backfire without proper, targeted medical nutrition. We endorse and supply formulas that are specific to each individual’s needs.

Making these services affordable and available continues to be the challenge. Educating health care systems, insurance companies and providing specialized training for personal trainers may help proliferate the model. This enables more individuals to age gracefully, with better quality of life and lower health care costs.

Dean Sbragia

Dean Sbragia, MBA, CDP, CMDCP, is the CEO of Medical Fitness Solutions and the founder of the LifeSpan Health program. LifeSpan is a comprehensive, non-pharmacological program focusing on the challenges of aging. As the owner of a healthcare products development company, he has authored three patents with others pending on workplace, rehabilitation and gaming products. Mr. Sbragia has lectured to domestic and international audiences on topics relating to rehabilitation and fitness programming; his “Break Free” osteoporosis program was a California state finalist in the SBA/Microsoft “InnovateHER” competition in 2015. He was also a contributing author to “Fight the Fall”, a women’s guide to osteoporosis, which published in 2021.

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