Health Tips: Are you part of the young and pre-frail generation?

IMDb lists “Good Will Hunting” as the No. 1 movie about the fear of failure. But we’d like to point out that with a little help, Will (Matt Damon) is able to overcome the crippling emotion and realize his potential. And, we hope you can do as well as Will, if fear of frail-ure is what’s haunting you.

It turns out that pre-frailty, which most people associate with advanced age, is as prevalent in 40-year-olds as it is in folks over 70. In fact, a new Australian study published in BMC Geriatrics found that pre-frailty occurs in 45% of people ages 40-49, and that’s about the same as the percentage for folks 70-75. When it hits in your 40s, it’s a glide path to early frailty, which is something everyone should work to avoid.

Pre-frailty means you are dealing with one or two of the following problems: declining energy, reduced muscle function, low grip strength, slowed walking speed, sedentary behavior and unintentional weight loss. Frailty is defined as having at least three of those issues.

Luckily, you can prevent and reverse pre-frailty and avoid the cascade of health problems that accompany frailty, from cognitive decline to broken bones. 

The No. 1 way to prevent or reverse pre-frailty is exercise: 60 minutes, five days a week of walking, resistance or strength training, aerobics, jumping/stretching and, most importantly, fun! You can do yoga, jumping jacks, stretchy bands, walking up and down stairs, step-class routines, barre exercises or dancing -- just get moving. You have nothing to fear but frail itself.

No screen time for 12- to 18-month-olds -- period! 

According to a 2017 Common Sense Census of Media Use of Kids Zero to Eight, U.S. children under the age of 2 spend an average of 42 minutes a day using screen media. That’s despite an American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that kids under 18 months should avoid all screen media, including TV. 

If that gentle warning from the AAP didn’t keep you from plopping your smartphone into the hands of your fussy youngster, maybe this will. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that when 12 month-old kids regularly view digital screens, it’s associated with a 4% increase in autismlike symptoms (disconnection from interaction with others, for example) and the more daily play time young children have with their parents, well, that’s associated with a 9% reduction in the risk of autismlike symptoms. 

It’s not that using digital devices increases the risk of diagnosed autism, but it does damage a child’s ability to interact with the world in ways that are essential for emotional and intellectual development. In other words, when you hand your baby/toddler a phone or tablet you are damaging your child’s future for some temporary peace and quiet. 

So, if you can’t focus on your child in the moment, books, toddler-safe crayons and paper, balls, mobiles and soft blocks all provide brain-stimulating distraction for 12- to 18-month-olds. Give them a try when you cannot go nose to nose or toes to toes (floor time is great) with your child. 

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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