By now, we should all be well-aware of the health benefits of exercise and training. Improving your aerobic capacity (VO2max) decreases your risk of succumbing to cardiovascular disease and other ailments, while strength-training improves your ability to carry out activities of daily living. Furthermore, regular exercise has been shown to have great benefits on mental health, and could reduce depressive symptoms.
There is a litany of research out there that shows that exercise and regular training have benefits that reach far beyond the confines of the weightroom. While scientists can debate how exactly exercise has these effects or what specifically about exercise programs is responsible for the positive changes that are seen, I think it’s safe to say that we can agree that exercise as a whole is good for you.
Treatments for medical ailments like heart disease, cancer, or stroke, can be prohibitively expensive, both from a monetary perspective and the emotional toll it takes on you, your family, and friends. If your life goal is to live your life to the fullest (as it should be for all of us!), I think it’s safe to say that one of our main objectives in life is to stave off these diseases and illnesses for as long as possible.
This is why I believe it’s important to commit ourselves to doing more than just the bare minimum when it comes to our health and fitness. By doing so, we save not only money, but more importantly, we’ll be saving our lives as well.
Too often, it seems like exercise & fitness is an afterthought for most people. It’s the lowest item on a list of priorities, or it’s simply regarded as a box that someone needs to check off at the end of the day. People walk aimlessly on a treadmill and call it “exercise,” while others stare off into space during their sets of biceps curls for 4 sets of 15.
However, there’s a better way to unlock and reap the potential benefits of having good health & fitness, and the people I mentioned above are barely scratching the surface. Candidly, I don’t expect the people above to be able to live fuller, healthier lives doing just those things in the gym!
In simple terms, your fitness regimen should involve aerobic exercise, conditioning, and proper strength training at a bare minimum. This is the approach I would take with a complete newbie, and is a cornerstone of what we do at Halevy Life.
But most of the time, people want more, and they are completely unaware that proper fitness training can get them there. Whether it’s running a marathon, losing a couple of pounds, being fit enough not to be winded at the top of a staircase, or strong enough to keep up with your kids, proper fitness (and particularly, strength training) can get you there.
Still, many others have other goals that may be more specific. Maybe they want to do a weightlifting/powerlifting competition, hit personal records on all their lifts, or dominate in their rec-league sport. In some way, everyone wants to be an athlete.
Well, we can learn a lot from the way that professional sports teams structure their athletic performance departments. How do teams keep their athletes healthy and keep them performing at a high level? How do they avoid and recover from injuries?
I would say that the overwhelming majority of sports teams take a proactive rather than reactive approach to health & fitness. Losing athletes to the injured reserve or the disabled lists wastes money, and puts a wrench in a team’s chance of winning. We can learn from their performance departments, which typically consist of 4 main pillars:
- (Sports) Medicine
- Physical Therapy
- Fitness Training
Think about this. When it comes to health and fitness, how many of us really only think about the fitness training side of things? By not thinking proactively, we are leaving a lot of potential health benefits on the table!
You can think of fitness and working out as a way to change the risk-reward ratio of living. You can get hurt doing a variety of things: playing pick up basketball, during a golf swing, starting up a lawn mower, going for a jog for the first time in a long time, or flushing a toilet. Obviously, some activities are more “dangerous” than others, but no one ever advised you not to pick up your kids because you would risk hurting your back.
If you want to live a healthy and active life, you have to be prepared for it. You want to live and perform at a high-level, don’t you? It’s the same for professional athletes, and it’s important that we all understand that their is always a risk of injury doing anything, from the benign (flushing a toilet) to the provocative (getting tackled in football).
We should focus on decreasing the risk/injury side of the risk-reward ratio. A proactive approach that combines nutrition, medicine, and physical therapy with fitness helps us do this. Nutrition fuels high performance: medicine keeps disease and illness at bay: physical therapy makes sure we’re moving well enough for all we want to do in life: fitness training is the work we put in to enhance our lives. They should all work together.
If you’re looking to save money and your life, good health & fitness will help you get there. But there’s more to it than just going to the gym. Avoid having to seek medical attention for injuries and other ailments by integrating nutrition, medicine, and physical therapy with your training. Make sure these 4 pillars of health and fitness support one another. Seek regular physical therapy and get checked out at the doctor’s office regularly. You’ll save money and feel better over the long haul.
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach and Metabolic Lab Manager at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.