I think it would be wise for all of us to take a moment to reflect on our health. It’s a gift most of us take for granted until we lose it. I know for myself, growing up I felt invincible and looking after my health was one of the last things on my mind. As you reach middle age you begin to see some chinks in the armor as age begins to creep up on you. A recent visit to the doctors office made me think about all of the preventative measures we should incorporate to help monitor our health and be better informed; however, few of us ever do until it’s too late.
I have been a firm believer in getting your blood work done at least once a year. If you have insurance, you should be able to ask your doc to do this. If not, there are many online services that allow you to go into any Lab Corp or Quest Diagnostics facility and have them draw your blood- they will send you the results online showing you what markers are high or low. Most of us don’t get our blood work done until we have an illness or something is ‘wrong.’ Getting the blood work done early and regularly throughout your life gives you a clear roadmap to see past results and be able to notice if any of your levels are changing. Most illness will manifest in your blood work years before you will see them manifest with physical symptoms. If you’re using steroids it is wise to get your blood work done to see how it is affecting your health. Sometimes a simple tweak in your cycle can make all of the difference in how effective it is, and charting your blood work is key to identifying and making these changes.
Regular exercise, especially cardio
While strength training has some major benefits for your heart, doing regular cardio is just as important in my opinion. Most of us who are always going hard with the iron don’t always see the massive benefits of doing cardio, I know I didn’t in my early years. Cardio is highly effective in reducing the risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and can also help to increase the effectiveness of your weight training sessions.
Active recovery, stretching, and yoga
This is another area I feel most of us neglect until it is too late. I got into yoga many years ago to help increase my flexibility. I used to practice it on my days off from lifting in the gym as a form of active recovery. I could not believe how ‘out of shape’ I was when I first started doing yoga. After I had a few months under my belt, I could not believe how much better I felt physically. It helped me to increase my strength in many of the accessory muscles and tendons that don’t normally get worked with my normal weight training regimen. I was also surprised at the amount of mental clarity it gave me after I completed the yoga sessions. It helped to ease anxiety, depression and gave me a level of clarity I don’t get from lifting weights. You don’t have to do yoga per se, even having a 20-30 minute stretching routine you do to help open up your body on your days off will go a long way to prevent muscle tears, stretch fascia for new growth while opening up blood flow for more nutrients to be delivered and used by the muscles.
I feel strongly that incorporating these things in your life will help keep your health intact and prevent many of the issues we all see as we get older. It’s often sad to see some of the great bodybuilders and athletes we knew in their prime, get cut down to size after experiencing some kind of health issues. Some of the issues are not preventable, but I would venture to say many of them are, and by doing your blood work regularly many of these health issues would be seen much earlier on. Keeping a solid exercise and cardio routine will always give you a leg up on Father Time as he begins to trail you closer. Active recovery, stretching and yoga will do wonders for anyone who is active and puts large demands on their physique. When New Years rolls around this year, maybe you can use some of this information to help incorporate these things into your life. Let’s all keep our health a top priority and stay active, healthy, and happy in the New Year ahead!
G and all of team GearDepot