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November 07, 2022 2 min read
My job at NASA was about keeping astronauts in space healthy and safe. While learning how astronauts live and work in the microgravity of space, I came to look at Earth’s Gravity with a great deal more respect. Gravity is that force we live with yet consistently ignore.
The first thing astronauts notice in space is that there is no up or down and that you are suddenly unloaded. The first thing they feel when they land back on Earth’s gravity is that everything feels heavy and they are unsteady on their feet. Even after a few days balance and coordination are seriously affected and much like a baby they need to stand with feet wide apart to keep their balance.
Balance is also the first thing that deteriorates here on Earth soon after you reach peak development at about 20 and you begin on your downward slope called aging. You do not need to be 80 before your balance is affected. It happens a lot sooner and much faster if you spend a lot of hours each day sitting.
What can you do? First become aware that you are moving less than you used to. The best kind of movement to correct this condition is to stimulate your balance organs in your inner ears by changing posture often, by dressing and undressing standing up, skipping rope, swinging on a swing, skating, skiing, surfing, or rollerblading. If you are beyond that, get yourself an Active Office Board*. There are many forms of boards you can stand on and sway and they all help your balance. In my experience none match the ingenuity and versatility of the Active Office Board. Velcro attaches square foam blocks to choose the position where you feel safest; gradually move them around to increase the challenge. Its simplicity makes it usable for a few minutes every time you stand so that you can make it a habit. If you use a stand-up desk use the board to stand on. I found it useful even under the desk to rock my feet forward and back, stretching my calves and feet. You can play around and find your own best way to use it all day. Just keep moving. - Dr. Joan Vernikos
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