“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. I can remember hearing my grandpa tell me this about 1,000 times. It’s the kind of advice that goes in one ear and out the other, in part because it’s so self-evident. It’s easy to take that type of wisdom for granted, especially when we’re young. As time passes though and the consequences of our choices gain gravity we can’t help but gain perspective on the power prevention.
If you’ve ever owned a car, a home, been in a relationship or worked hard on an important project in school or in your career then you’ve experienced this lesson firsthand. It really boils down to the difference between living a reactive vs a proactive life. Nowhere is this point better illustrated than on the topic of health and wellness. It’s obvious for all of us who have dealt with an injury or an illness that taking steps to maintain our health is always preferable to the task of recovering. Simply put, getting sick or getting hurt is no fun. It takes away from our joy, our freedom and can often impact our livelihood.
Let’s take a closer look at that. In 2010 a group of PhD researchers took a detailed look at how minor injuries impacts the American economy. This study looked at joint pain, back pain, headaches and abdominal distress. Are you ready? The researchers found that these seemingly minor issues accumulated to cost the US economy over $560 billion dollars per year! To put that in perspective, heart disease and cancer combined (the leading causes of death on planet earth) cost America about $540 billion per year. What this means is the impact of our relatively sedentary - sitting - lifestyles have a higher cost than we may realize. We have a responsibility as a society to recognize the creeping costs of modern life not just on our economy but on our mental and physical well being. Modern humans move less, sleep worse and consume more artificial compounds like drugs and modified foods than at any other point in our history.
But wait! All's not lost. Dr. Kelly Starrett (renowned author of ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard’ and owner of mobilitywod.com) argues that 98% of chronic injury is entirely preventable. We don't have to be victims of modernity! Humans were born to move and play and compete. Even as we’ve suffered under the erosion of western life, we haven’t stopped innovating. With every great problem, great minds respond with a solution. Although we might be playing catch up, our bodies are designed to heal. With thoughtful movement and exercise, and simple self-care strategies we can reclaim our well being. Injury prevention isn’t just about putting money and time back into our economy, which obviously has a multitude of advantages, it’s also about celebrating life. When we take the time to learn and make the investments in our well being we enrich every aspect the human experience. Healthier humans contribute to their communities, resolve conflict with patience and creativity, have deeper intimacy with the ones they love and are simply happier people. If freedom truly is our highest ideal than proactive health is our greatest asset in freedom’s pursuit.
So take care. We’re counting on you!