October 19

Fitness

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I lay on my back in the living room. The dog was laying next to me. We were both tired out after going across the road to get the paper. The dog was 12 years old and his back was seizing up. We had him on pain meds for a couple of years and he was a trooper but the end was nigh. I was in my early 50’s and was starting to think that I might not be far behind.

It had been a couple of months since the pain in my lower middle back had knocked me out of commission. Acupuncture, physiotherapy and then finally heavy duty pain meds just to get some relief and sleep. On my back in the living room. NSAIDS and muscle relaxants. I lasted two days on the muscle relaxants before the fog got to be too much. NSAIDS. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Turns out that I was in good company. “an estimated 80% of people will seek medical attention for back pain at some point in their lives.” According to Harvard.

I’d always been relatively fit driven by passions for downhill skiing, windsurfing and ice hockey so flat on my back wasn’t how I liked to spend my days.

Fitness was critical for me at the time as I was embarking on a path of entrepreneurship and all of my focus needed to be on creating. Relying on pills and meds to get through my days was impossible.

The importance of being fit is only highlighted once your fitness is gone. It happens gradually and incrementally so that once the inevitable debilitating effects become unavoidably apparent it can be a long struggle to regain any level of fitness. Many years of slow decline equals many more years to reverse the process. And the decline in fitness is mirrored by a decline in performance in work and private life.

The data has been in for 20 years. Physically fit employees:
  • perform more work, using less effort.
  • take fewer sick days (savings avg. of $2000 annually)
  • get along better with coworkers

The challenge for employers has long been how to encourage their people to include fitness in their lives. Now the added element is how to reach out to remote workers with the message. Hopefully, with more control over their time and less commuting we will see improvements.

A couple of years ago I played 58 games.

Fast forward 10 years and I am no longer flat on my back. My chiropractor pinpointed the cause as ‘head forward syndrome’ from too much screen time. Yoga was a big part of my road back. And hockey. I don’t recommend this to everyone but I decided to fix it or break it for good and hauled out my hockey bag. I shook off ten years of dust (from me and the hockey bag) got the skates sharpened and went to the rink. A couple of years ago I played 58 games. It happened to be the same year that I turned 58 so I’ve set the bar high. 25 lbs lighter and a heck of a lot fitter.


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