Laura York, Department of Public Health
Laura is the Director of the Coordinated School Health Program and a certified group exercise instructor/personal trainer.
In preparation for Hurricane Irene, I decided to take all the chairs off my roof deck so they wouldn’t blow away in the powerful winds. The chairs were a bit awkward to carry down the pull-out ladder that leads up to the deck, but seemed light enough for me to handle by myself. As I was about to bring down the last chair, it started to rain and I slipped on the top step of the ladder. I fell backwards, legs flying up in the air and my right arm landing straight behind me with a loud crack on the metal lip of the deck’s opening. I ended up hanging above a ceiling-to-floor fall with only my calves and left hand gripping the opening of the deck.
After calling out for help a few times, I realized that nobody could hear me. I knew I would have to get out of this position by myself, and quickly before I lost my grip and went tumbling backwards down the stairs. I sensed that my right arm could be broken so I gripped my right inner thigh and left hand on the metal lip of the opening and swung my left leg around to the wall inside. I then carefully inched my foot down to one of the stairs and managed to get down safely.
I ended up going to the Emergency Room and was eventually diagnosed with a fractured arm and several muscle, cartilage and tendon tears. Although this was devastating news, I could have been paralyzed or even killed if I had fallen down the flight of stairs to the hardwood floor.
So how did physical activity save my life? If I hadn’t been lifting weights, I wouldn’t have been able to use my inner thigh and arm strength to hold my body weight. If I hadn’t been doing yoga, I wouldn’t have been flexible enough to stretch my leg up and around to catch the side wall. If I hadn’t been running and spinning and dancing, I may have been too heavy to hold throughout the minutes I was calling for help and figuring out a way to get down.
So yes, physical activity can lower your chances of getting many chronic diseases down the road but it also may help you in ways you would never expect.