IMPORTANCE OF EXERCISE FOR HEALTH LONGEVITY IN YOUR AVIATION CAREER
Robbins Madanes Institute Certified: Intervention Coach
NASM Certified: Personal Trainer
We know that exercise is important for our health. Fitness is not just about the physical results. It's truly about working on your body internally and keeping it functioning efficiently. Due to structured exercises, your body goes through adaptation and physical results come about. So why does fitness for your health remain in the back of the mind for so many people?
Is it the lack of motivation? The obstacles of a crew member lifestyle? The zero interest in exercising? Not being able to find the time? The list goes on....
Education on a topic can have the most powerful effect on your decision making for anything in life. The more educated you are on a subject, the better you can make a decision. For the majority of society, it's not until something that occurs that negatively impacts their health, that they start realizing the importance of fitness and nutrition for your health. For many pilots, it's the potential loss of their medical certificate due to a health related issue. You may want to ask yourself, would you rather be on the reactive side of the spectrum, or the proactive side? In order to highly value fitness as part of your lifestyle, it needs to be linked to something that you highly value in life. For example, if you highly value your time spent with your kids, then health and fitness plays an important role in this. Do you want to be feeling old and rusty when your kids want to play, or you possibly can't because of chronic injury? Or be active, full of energy, and know that you're in good health to enjoy these moments for the long term? This is just a basic example. I'm not saying that because of fitness this is the resulted quality time, but it certainly has an influence. There's more to life than just fitness, but integrating it as part of your life goes a long way.
The amount of psychological aspects that people experience, positively and negatively, with fitness vary and are constantly being studied. However, shifting a mindset towards being conscious of the value of fitness and nutrition in your life does impact your daily decision to be proactive about your health.
So for instance, gaining additional knowledge about cardio training can help someone who does not like running, biking, swimming, stairmaster, etc, because there are various ways to engage and improve your cardio conditioning. Maybe the heart is unconditioned to a point where running may be too much to handle, and thus feel unaccomplished and leads to lack of motivation. However, what if you're better with weight training? You can reduce the amount of rest time in between sets to work on your cardio. You can also train in various forms, such as supersets or circuit training to improve on cardio. Two small changes can create the biggest impact towards your health.
It's also very important to engage in different types of exercise such as;
Resistance Training (weights)
Flexibility and Mobility
The reasons to why it's important to engage in various forms of exercise is to develop a variety of health benefits through fitness. Resistance training, provides the necessary stress on bones and joints to help reduce the chances of osteoporosis or sarcopenia as you get older. Also, it promotes skeletal protection from the muscular system as muscles protect our bones, to a certain degree, from potential injuries.
Flexibility and mobility is important because allowing muscles to have their flexibility relieves them from compensation for tightness in other areas of our bodies. Having the ability to move with less muscular tightness restrictions can change everything from how you feel physically and emotionally. It's a challenge to go to work with muscular pain, and can lead to negative crew resource management in aviation. Combining flexibility along with resistance training can relieve tightness in one area and strengthen the weakness in the other area to fix a muscular imbalance. Also, overall strength is increased with an increased range of motion. This can help flight attendants with overhead bin preflight procedures, or in emergency procedures. It can also help pilots reduce the chances of potential injury when getting into or out of the flight deck seat.
Balance training is also important because it's more than likely used over 90% of the time you are at work. Think about how many potential threats of imbalance injuries there are in a day at work when flying? Here are some: unexpected turbulence, walking through airports, putting luggage in overhead bins, aircraft walk arounds (especially during winter time), carrying luggage upstairs, etc..
Working on balance training at least twice a week helps to improve balance. You're essentially training your nervous system, by creating neuro pathways, on how to correct for a sudden external imbalance.
Plyometrics training can go hand in hand with balance training. They can be trained together to get the best of both forms of exercise. Plyometric training is essentially training in a way that creates increased muscular reaction time, and muscular power production by performing exercises with minimal contact time on the ground in various directions (lateral, horizontal, diagonal, vertical). An example of this can be the four corner hopping drill.
Finally, cardio training and its importance is vital to our health because proper organ function relies on the cardiorespiratory system and cardiovascular system. The more conditioned your heart; the better efficiency it has with blood pressure, diffusion (exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the capillaries in the lungs), reduced resting heart rate, improved cardiac output during force production, and mitigating cardiovascular diseases. There are so many ways to train for cardio. One method was discussed earlier, and you also have Interval training, steady state cardio training, circuit training, and many more.
The main point of this article is that fitness plays an important role in your health. You already know that. By having a bit more of knowledge about it and being on the proactive side of your health really goes a long way, for you and those around you. Fitness does not have to run your life (no pun intended) in order for you to have improved health benefits. Integrating it as part of your lifestyle and giving it priority makes a huge difference. Three times a week of structured training of the different exercise forms listed above can create major benefits to your health.
We all have time to fit exercise during the week. You'll be surprised at how much time "you can find" when there's something THAT important to you. Give health and fitness some more value in your life, you won't regret it!