This week there was an article written about our clinic in The Chronicle Herald. It is nice to have our business recognized for the value we aim to create. That value lies entirely in our ability to positively impact the lives of our clients. The “gold” we really want is for people to be able to enjoy their golden years. As we’ve said before, it’s best to start early, but it’s never too late to start. Proper exercise makes life better now and in the future. It is an investment in your quality of life.
I truly believe that understanding the distinction between exercise and activity is a crucial public health issue. I also believe, however, that public health begins with individual health and only individuals can make decisions and own responsibility for their choices. Activity is great, but it does not and cannot safely and sustainably deliver the benefits from structured, progressive exercise. Articles like this one indicate the need for personalized exercise prescription. Building a healthier body also means minimizing those things that undermine your efforts. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to write about the specific elements of what makes exercise good medicine. Bodies – and minds – adapt. Exercise should produce more of the changes you want and fewer of the challenges you’d prefer to avoid. The right balance is golden.
Is your exercise program – or lack thereof – building up or tearing down physiological headroom? How about what you eat?
What do I mean by physiological headroom? I mean the ability to restore organ capacity. I mean stimulating anabolic growth in your body rather than enduring catabolic destruction. I mean cleaning up your diet to reduce chronic inflammation and decrease the likelihood of developing a chronic disease.
Exercise is the correct balance of challenge and rest, stimulating your body to adapt and grow without exposing yourself to unsustainable risks that will eventually thwart your progress. Demanding muscular work stimulates positive changes in all of your body’s systems. The muscular system is far more important than many think and it is one of the most readily adaptable systems in the body. As such, strengthening this system is essential for building up physiological reserve.
Maintaining muscle and eating nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory foods are the best insurance for a healthy future. And it’s never too late to start.
After years of promoting strength training as the “core” of any exercise and activity program, it is gratifying to see the mainstream media is increasingly aware of its importance. The scientific literature has been quite clear on this for a fairly long time. Almost all of the conditions we associate with aging are correlated with a loss of muscle tissue that occurs to everyone who is not engaged in specific and progressive resistance training. This is true regardless of activity level.
Older and Stronger states: “Our analyses of current research show that the most important factor in somebody’s function is their strength capacity. No matter what age an individual is, they can experience significant strength improvement with progressive resistance exercise even into the eighth and ninth decades of life.”
In order to get best results and to reduce the risk of injury, it is essential that you learn how to perform resistance exercise properly. In order to be effective, you need to challenge yourself. In order to be safe, you need to minimize impact on your joints. Moving slowly makes your muscles work harder by reducing momentum and protects your joints by minimizing force. Proper form means you maintain appropriate positioning, breathing, and focus.
Proper exercise is more about quality than quantity. It is wonderful to be active, but it is essential to build a strong foundation that enables that activity. Understanding that distinction – and acting upon it by engaging in a regular exercise program – will prepare you for a long and healthy life!
Check out this recent article in the New Your Times called Doctors Seek Way to Treat Muscle Loss. It is a great overview of the problem we have been trying to make people aware of for a long time. Doctors, however, seem to remain largely unaware of the solution. The article concludes:
“Maintaining the muscle is possible,” said Dr. Luigi Ferrucci of the National Institute on Aging, who directs the study, called the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. “We just don’t know the right formula yet.”
We may not have all the answers yet, but here’s a hint. If you want to maintain strong muscles, strength training is a good place to start!
Patrick Wall, one of the world’s most respected researchers in the physiology of pain, once asked, “what are the appropriate motor responses to the arrival of injury signals [and pain]?” In other words, what movement is required to help someone avoid or relieve pain. To me, this ought to be the central question of physiotherapy for painful conditions. Thankfully, an increasing body of knowledge in neurobiology and pain science, is now available to help us answer this question.Wall essentially outlined three phases of response to a signal of pain:
Patrick Wall identified these three phases as instinctive responses; however, many people continue to experience persistent pain well after the time expected for the healing of injuries. In our experience, people often remain stuck in phase one or phase two because they misunderstand pain and fear it means danger. In reality, a lot of pain results from tightness and sensitivity of the nervous system and the best response is actually working to restore normal mobility. This is not the same as a ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy which can exacerbate symptoms. Rather it is carefully looking at the factors contributing to pain and moving in a way that helps transform the pain experience.