Our very rewarding work demands a lot of us. We need to focus on small objects. We need to manage people both in our chairs and around us. We have bills to pay, courses to take, labs and suppliers to deal with, families to support, and on and on. In dentistry as in life, there is a ton of stress. In fact, show me a dentist without stress and I’ll show you a cadaver!
Stress takes a physical toll on us and we need to be prepared. I’ve seen too many dentists overweight, slouched, with poor core and muscle tone, and barely capable of making it through a long and taxing day. Many dentists have told me that they are too busy to maintain a fitness regimen. I maintain that being physically and nutritionally strong are the two most critical keys to a happy, successful life. Couple that with the reality that, for some of us, working well pat the conventional retirement age of 65 will be necessary, especially if our life expectancy is into our 80s and beyond. So, we don’t want to become, as Dr. Pankey once warned us, “too old to work and too poor to retire”
Let’s take a look at what I’ll call fitness 101
Attaining fitness can be very intimidating for those who have not exercised in a while. Really and truly, though, the only ingredients you need are focus and patience. A good gym with a good trainer and nutritionist would help, too, but let’s start with some basics.
For those with medical conditions, a consult with your friendly physician would be imperative.
For those who have not done anything in a while, some light walking several times a week would be a great way to work up to a nice baseline as I outline below.
I am trained to do 150 minutes of cardio a week. I do not care how it breaks down, as long as I have a minimum of 15-minute intervals. That is, I can do ten 15- minute sessions, five 30 minute sessions, two 45 and two 30-minute sessions, etc. Although I really enjoy running, my knees and back occasionally will politely request that I walk briskly. I listen to what my body tells me and, although I will occasionally defy it, I am generally attentive to what it tells me. Elliptical machines and stationery or real bicycles are also great.
Once you have your cardio act in order, it’s time to start thinking about resistance training. Toning your abdominal and back muscles; i.e. the core, is critical for flourishing as we age. A few suggestions- try holding a plank (the upward push – up position) for 20 seconds and increase your endurance gradually. And here’s a cute one- one fellow I’m following did some push-ups after each time he went to the bathroom at home
The impact of physical fitness on our focus, mood, self-esteem, and, of course, health is tremendous. The road to fitness begins with some simple steps which almost anyone can do. Of course, if you can engage a personal trainer and/ or a nutrition coach, you will get there at a faster pace.
Any way you choose to improve yourself is great. I did it; you can, too. Let’s take that first step now. As my mother used to say, you’ll thank me when you get older!