Four Smart, Surprising Health Moves: Part One
by James Lange, CPA/Attorney
We can’t live our best lives—at work, at home, or out in the world—if we don’t take care of our health.
The primary content in this article is provided through a licensing agreement I have with the publisher. Multiple sections are written by Dr. Dan Carlin, a concierge medical doctor in California who I know and like. If you are not familiar with the term “concierge doctor,” it refers to care for which the patient pays an annual retainer. In exchange, the doctor will provide each patient with enhanced care, adequate consultation time and convenient appointment times.
As I read the article, I couldn’t help but add comments based on my own practices. As someone who must contend with ongoing health issues, I am always on the lookout for good advice. (My comments will appear in italics.)
First, let me present the five key takeaways:
- Make resistance training, flexibility, balance training and muscle recovery key parts of any workout regimen.
- Take the three cardiac health tests that your doctor isn’t telling you about.
- Make restful sleep a higher priority.
- Evaluate dietary supplements.
- Consider a concierge medical doctor.
While we often say we are trying to take good care of ourselves, how often do we fail to be proactive about our health or blow off health-related issues? We’re all guilty here, so don’t beat yourself up. Instead, commit to taking a few smart steps that can empower and energize you.
Here’s a list of two of the four* top health ideas:
Smart Move #1: Avoid Exercise Injuries by Going Beyond Cardio
Whether you exercise regularly or are a weekend warrior, lay off the cardio-only regime and add some time for resistance training, flexibility, balance and muscle recovery. Doing so can lead to better results and prevent injuries.
Incorporate resistance training. Many of my friends think going all-out for cardio is sufficient—they are wrong. But I can understand their reluctance. It takes a different kind of commitment. I don’t have the discipline to do resistance training myself, so I have a trainer come to my house 3 days a week. I prefer the home routine to going to the gym.
Three days a week, I am sitting at the computer enjoying my coffee and reading or playing bridge or another internet game and then…ding-dong…and I think, “Oh s**t, the trainer is here.” We go to my basement which is outfitted with a bunch of exercise equipment. He puts me through an hour routine that frankly, I don’t enjoy. He designs and changes the workout each time. So, even though I don’t enjoy it, at least there is a lot of variety. I don’t think. I just do what he says. Finally, the hour is over and, as I go upstairs, I pass my wife, Cindy, on her way down. It’s her turn. We exchange glances, and I don’t doubt the grin on my face speaks volumes, “I am so happy I am done and so sad that you are just starting.” We also have a trainer who comes to our house for our daughter, Erica.
After training, I eat breakfast, and my trainer wants me to eat protein right after resistance training. Then, I shower and go to work. On the weekends, I usually bicycle for a lot of hours each day, which is mainly cardio.
Athletes incorporate muscle recovery practices after training. One common recovery practice is a post-workout cold water immersion for 6 minutes. Maybe start by running cold water at the end of your shower.
Another effective way to head off soreness and stiffness is by incorporating flexibility and balance exercises into your workout time. The other thing I do is I have my trainer oversee my continuing physical therapy for prior injuries including a broken hip and a rotator cuff tear. I plan to continue these PT exercises for the rest of my life.
Smart Move #2: Focus on Your Sleep Without Drugs
Dr. Carlin’s practice has found that the most successful people tend to put a high value on sleep. Good sleep is the key to cognitive fitness and is just as important as diet and exercise for overall health. Not having enough of it can lead to degenerative illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. To get a truly good night’s sleep consistently, practice good sleep hygiene:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Get 7 to 8 hours every night.
- Limit exposure to blue light at least 1 hour before bedtime.
- Get evaluated for sleep apnea if you are a heavy snorer (sleep apnea is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease).
You’ll improve your sleep habits and outcomes by avoiding these behaviors:
- Trying to get by on 5 or 6 hours a night with the rationale that you will “catch up” by sleeping more than 8 hours at your next opportunity.
- Changing your bed and wake times frequently. This leaves your brain perpetually jetlagged.
- Relying on stimulants and/or sedatives to wake up and fall asleep. They interfere with your ability to get truly restorative sleep.
- Drinking alcohol at night.
- Taking hot showers or vigorously exercising within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime.
- Eating within 2 hours of bedtime.
Warning: You can’t “hack” a good night’s rest with medication. Ambien and other sleep aids prevent the restful sleep that allows the brain to function at its peak. That said, I have been taking Cannabidiol (CBD) oil before bed which has been effective in reducing inflammation.
The older I get, the more I care about my clients’ health than their money.
*Note: The remaining two top health ideas will appear in the November issue of Lange’s Advice Column in PART TWO of this article.