Friday, October 2, 2009

EXERCISE AND HEALTH - Are they really linked?

When we are young, it is perceived that the other end of our life is so far off there is little need to worry about preparing for it. As the old saying goes, “we feel ten foot tall and bullet proof.” Since the time before any possible consequences will catch up with us, there is little need to avoid “fun stuff” or lifestyles that are recognized as “unhealthy”. Unfortunately, as those of us who are senior citizens can readily attest, reality of our mortality begins to set in. This reality is sooner for some than it is for others. I think that studying health and wellness while earning my degree as a chiropractic doctor helped me appreciate my own mortality much earlier in life.

Shortly following graduation, I read a book, Cooper’s Poopers, authored by an Air Force physician. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the author, was instructed to research the benefits exercise could provide in many health problems, verses the use of medications. It was not uncommon for Air Force pilots to be grounded due to health problems, primarily cardiovascular, that medicine failed to correct. Pilots were anxious to get back in the air so they were motivated to do whatever it took. This meant Dr. Cooper had a bunch of more-than-willing participants. After several studies, he found that when a person worked up to the point of running a mile and half in 12 minutes, nearly all health problems would be relieved. These included blood pressure problems, skipped heart beats, shortness of breath, etc. The pilots were able to become certified to fly once again. Because of all the exercise, these participants soon dubbed themselves “Coopers Poopers.” After reading Dr. Coopers successes, I decided I would follow his lead and begin to exercise regularly. I ran (jogged) one to five miles, several times a week, for several years (my wife and I walk briskly at least 2 miles daily). Later I also became interested in bicycle riding, and continue to ride regularly. So far, 60 miles is the longest ride I have taken.

Preparing for active and productive senior years, I often discuss the necessity of following a healthy diet and lifestyle. We all prefer avoiding the possibility of winding up drooling on a pillow, in some nursing home. To this end, I have often joked that my personal ambition is to live to be about 104, and then get killed in a bicycle accident. The point is, if a person is able to ride a bicycle at age 104, they will be active, productive, and able to enjoy life. I don’t think there was a need to “practice up” for the bicycle accident, but I did it anyway. August 31, 2009 I did have a bicycle accident that fractured 3 ribs. I also experienced a slight concussion, even though my helmet absorbed the brunt of the accident. Rib fractures are extremely painful and not recommended.

I was strapped and taped to help secure the ribs. I also did the breathing exercises necessary to protect against pneumonia. The hyperbaric chamber offered the only total relief, and we used it daily. I also consumed numerous vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. As of this writing, my recovery is actually ahead of schedule, and I am again able to see patients.

Written by Dr Jack Kessinger 10-1-09

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