New Season, New Attitude Toward You! Now what?

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April showers bring May flowers, and the tides turn toward full-blown spring with renewal, and of course, the cherry blossoms! I am often told by people seeking fitness or nutrition advice that they know what they should be doing, but they cannot determine where to begin. As you likely know, I am a huge proponent of movement (walk, run, swim, bike, etc.), lifting weights (good for bone density), and stretching (for muscle growth and recovery), but that’s what you should do and it doesn’t answer the question about how to begin. Let’s look at steps and options.

Consult a healthcare professional or nutritional counselor.

Prior to beginning any new fitness program or making a drastic change in diet, you should always check with your doctor. As aircrew members subject to pressurization changes more than the average person, it’s important to have a thorough baseline health assessment. This is more than just your annual or semi-annual flight physical. If you haven’t been overly active or want to make a change in your fitness journey, start with guidance from your healthcare professional. The same is true for if you want to make dietary changes. Seek the advice of a nutrition counselor or dietician, and do not make drastic changes to your diet without doing research and getting advice from someone versed in the application of dietary needs.

Enlist a personal trainer.

Most gyms/fitness centers have personal trainers onsite. While it may cost you a few dollars to have a one-on-one session with a personal trainer, having a coach walk you through a physical fitness assessment or show you options for what you are trying to achieve can be invaluable. Most gyms will even offer a free session to introduce you to the equipment they use and how to incorporate that into your program. But you must have the physical examination conducted by a doctor prior to meeting with a physical fitness expert or personal trainer. Only then can you have a discussion about your limits that will further inform your trainer.

Conduct a physical fitness assessment.

There are several ways to conduct a physical fitness assessment. If you have the means and the time, you can have one done professionally. Likely, you can also have one conducted at your gym. Or you can use some variation of the military standards that vary from branch to branch. (These can range from pushups, sit-ups, running, or some variety of strength exercises, stamina and cardio output.) I was fortunate enough to have had a VO2-max study conducted on a military base. With probes connected everywhere and a mask covering your mouth, you learn a lot about cardio output and various other nuances based on your own metabolism. Plus, it takes a long time – like a next-level elite athlete assessment. I only mention this to illustrate that there are a variety of ways to determine your baseline.

When it comes to aviation, we are subjected to major time-zone changes, operating at high altitudes in a pressurized vessel with limited access to proper nutrition, so finding a baseline health level is imperative to staying in aviation for the long haul. Remember, you’re only one physical away from being grounded. Make the most of your career by controlling the things you can. Seek guidance from health professionals, nutritionists, wellness coaches and trainers.

I invite your comments and ideas for fitness topics we can address in this space. Write to me at Ericray4470@gmail.com.




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