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Live Like Chuck Norris? Make Smart Decisions in Childhood

By Martha Michael

Chuck Norris Circa 1988

Staying fit is certainly in Chuck Norris' wheelhouse -- or in his "roundhouse," you might say. And considering he's in his eighth decade now, he seems to do a pretty good job of battling the health challenges of age.

What does it take to do more than just maximize longevity, but to remain healthy as long as you live?

Childhood: Rough and Ready

Babies in arms are at the mercy of their parents for proper well-care, which includes regular medical attention, stimulation, and healthy nourishment. Although children begin to make their own decisions as they grow, there are many circumstances that are out of their control that can have lasting effects on their health in adulthood. The Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco completed the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, or ACES, analyzing the link between chronic stress as a youth and health in later life.

Kaiser Permanente partnered with the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study physical and emotional abuse and other forms of dysfunction, including domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse and separation/divorce. A total of 67 percent of those studied had at least one adverse childhood experience and 13 percent of the individuals in the study had four or more ACEs. The research showed a connection between ACEs and numerous health problems.

"The more ACEs a child has, the higher the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression and cancer," the report says.

The Center for Youth Wellness uses the term "toxic stress" to represent the cause of changes in the brain architecture of children when ACEs are ignored and untreated. These changes, the researchers say, can create emotional issues, learning difficulties, and other long-term health problems. The agency is pushing for better screening and intervention, looking to the arena of pediatric medicine to make gains in giving attention to the exposure kids have to stressors.

Adolescence: Ranger Recruits

There are certainly differences between teens now and those of the last generation, and even more in contrast with those a century ago. Of course, 20th century adolescents may be found plowing their own fields and married with children, but what are current issues concerning the health of adolescents today?

The CDC says in the agency's monthly online series, called "Grand Rounds," that the lifestyle decisions made by the more than 40 million adolescents in the United States can affect their health for the rest of their lives. Compared to other stages of life, they're relatively healthy, but before they are fully adults they face potential setbacks from a high rate of motor vehicle accidents, risky sexual behavior, substance abuse, and violence.

In 2013, more than 1 in 5 adolescents reported current tobacco use, and among those sexually active, almost two-thirds used condoms regularly. A CDC fact sheet estimates that almost 20 million individuals in the U.S. between the age of 15-24 will contract a new sexually transmitted infection. The agency suggests early detection through annual testing for sexually active young people.

What are risks associated with teen driving? The DMV's Teenage Driver page says that adolescents ages 16-19 are 2.7 times more likely to get in a car crash than other age groups. While causes range from unsafe speeds to improper turns, the results are the same: physical injury.

Immediate treatment is always the best option after a collision. Even if a teen reports no pain, it's always a good idea to be examined for possible joint restrictions of the spine due to trauma. A chiropractor can assess even minor soft tissue injuries which, treated early enough, can stave off long-term effects including scar tissue buildup, damage to the nerves and reduced mobility. There are various types of therapeutic care available when these injuries occur; your doctor of chiropractic will refer you to the appropriate provider or facility, if indicated.

The CDC calls for clinical services to be more than just available, but easy to obtain. A strong message about reducing risky behaviors and regular visits to a chiropractor may offer the kind of pressure this age group needs to improve their health statistics.

Seniors Still Standing

Even a retired lone star lawman has to face the physical challenges of age. But it helps to have a background of healthy choices, including regular visits to a healthcare professional.

Chiropractic care is a key player in maintaining the health of seniors, says an article in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. Chiropractors take a holistic approach with their patients, treating them for everything from functional limitations to spinal pain.

Among the health conditions medical professionals see most in seniors is injury from falling. Chiropractors typically begin by asking the patient about current and past experiences with falling before devising a strategy of prevention.

In populations over 65 years of age, approximately one-third suffer from a fall annually, the article says. In fact, it's the leading cause of unintentional injuries for the elderly, costing $19 billion in medical costs, which are expected to total $44 billion by 2020. The article suggests that intervention as a means to lower those numbers are within the scope of a chiropractor's expertise and advisement. Risk factors leading to falls include:

  • Impaired mental status
  • Environmental hazards
  • Poor vision
  • Lower extremity weakness
  • Balance and gait problems

Early intervention and a routine of healthy habits at every stage create a better prognosis for your system of wellness. It may be difficult to acquire the legendary reputation of Chuck Norris, but an ounce of prevention may offer the chance for a fraction of his strength and agility later in life.

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