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 “Pride & Freedom?!”
By Ron Jones, MS  

Electric Scooter


Jack La Lanne @ 88 years young!


Feeble in a cart or Fit like Jack LaLanne--
YOU Decide!!!

The New Year is upon us.  Some of you will be successful in “preventing” disability and disease through healthy behavior changes.  According to a recent article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, “People who are physically active, eat a healthy diet, do not use tobacco, and practice other healthy behaviors reduce their risk for chronic disease and have half the rate of disability of those who do not.”  However, most Americans will not be working on prevention but rather be shopping for traditional Western approaches to health care like pills, surgeries, and yes now—motorized and assisted devices.  There are people that are truly disabled by birth, accident, or some form of disease that was uncontrollable.  For these populations assisted devices do in fact restore some mobility, pride, and freedom…but then we have the majority of Americans that disable themselves through lifestyle which is the point of my article.

"Just Move!"--Jack LaLanne

There seems to be a deluge of advertisements now for slow moving vehicles and other devices that do activities of daily living for you instead of you doing them for yourself—and rightfully so.  When you have 64% of American adults that are overweight that is a lot of fat ass to haul.  Infomercials now abound for those handicap electric scooters and “power” chairs.  Ahhh…but it’s the “American Way.”  Why do something “proactive” for your body and health that you can have someone or something else do for you?!  Let’s cut the crap and get to the truth—the less you do, the less you can do.  For physical activity, use it or lose it.  For calories, burn them or pack them like saddlebags. 

The marketing approach to these assisted devices fascinate me.  What is even more interesting is that people actually believe the message they hear about how these devices can restore your “pride and freedom.”  I have worked with a lot of adults and senior adults—and they are proud people and have been determined to remain independent.  I don’t know one of them that wanted an electric scooter or power chair!  Had I suggested a scooter or chair they would have been insulted.  Do you want to be proud and have true freedom with your body?  Then walk yourself in and out of the store and get your ass out of the chair yourself!  I find it hard to believe that a person would be more proud of having a cart motor them around and a chair launch their weak butt into the living room!  The carts are a lot of trouble.  They are expensive, cumbersome, and hard to load and transport. 

Don’t let the advertisers fool you—the carts LIMIT your mobility and freedom in comparison to good old fashioned walking yourself where you want to go.  The biggest loser of the bunch is the power chair contraption that lifts you up and pushes you out of the seated position…my God this is the beginning of the end!!!  One of the primary functions of the human body for remaining independent and mobile is the ability to stand up!  If you are too weak to stand by yourself, then you need to strengthen your legs so you CAN stand by yourself—NOT have a power chair doing it for you!  The more the chair does, the less your legs will be able to do.  The more the electric cart carries you around, the less your legs will be able to functionally move you.  Next time you see these ads, think about what the devices really represent—the “loss” of freedom and independence.  More frightening is that I see people that are not seniors using them.  Last year at Disneyland electric scooters seemed to be everywhere.  When I was a child at Disneyland I don’t remember seeing people that needed electric scooters—people just walked including seniors.  These changes are NOT progress!

The American Way--power stairs to your workout!
            What's wrong with this picture?!

The 2006 New Year is upon us.  If you want to be proud and keep your freedom this year you need to remain independent, mobile, and strong enough to stand and walk on your own as long as you are able.  Don’t take the lazy and “reactive” approach for health care—be proactive, kick yourself in the butt, get yourself up, and move on your own!  My answer to "Restless Leg Syndrome" is GET UP AND MOVE!

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(Updated 11-11-05)

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