The Champion's Way for Health and Fitness

Given that most of us are not elite athletes our approach to exercise and fitness should be different. Unless we are planning a ski trip or hiking trip or some other physically demanding trip, we do not need to focus on training for specific events. Nor do we need to push our body to extreme physical levels. We do not have an “in season” or an “off season”. In fact, every day we are in season. 

We are pursuing our health for the long term. Not only do we want to enjoy fun recreational activities ourselves or with our families and friends, but we want to continue moving well over many decades.

If we took the single minded approach or mindset that an elite athlete takes towards sport and put that towards our health and fitness we would move better, have better health and live better and more productive lives.

The return of Tiger Woods

"The old Tiger used to walk onto the range with a presence that would intimidate people," Padraig Harrington said in a February interview with the Irish Independent. "This was not the old Tiger. He was talking and smiling and joking and high-fiving. I had a chat with him on the range. I spent longer talking to him on the range in San Diego [than] I ever have. I think we're both at a stage where we realize, 'You know what? You've got to make an effort to enjoy what you're doing out here.'"

I find this series of quotes interesting.

First, the feeling of intimidation comes from within. If, in the case of sport a competitor is thoroughly prepared and ready to compete, it is impossible for that competitor to become intimidated.

Second, through my research,I discovered that all great champions enjoyed what they were doing. For Harrington to suggest that “we’re both at a stage where we realize, ‘You know what? You’ve got to make an effort to enjoy what you’re doing out here.’” states the obvious. No athlete could ever last long enough to become a great champion without enjoying the entire process. The world would have never heard of Tiger Woods had he only now started to enjoy himself.

Hip and Knee Replacement

Science and technology are discovering and building the tools to keep us walking, jogging and riding our bikes to the grave. Whatever the reason for knee or hip cartilage failure, these surgeries are giving thousands a second chance. While a replacement is still not the original, in most cases the pain is gone and the recipient is able to regain pain free movement and an active lifestyle.

It is at this post surgical point that a recipient must decide how to make the best of this second chance at pain free movement. If you were 4-5 day per week golfer maybe you are down to 2 or 3 rounds of golf per week and maybe you ride in a cart 30% of the time. If you were a runner, maybe you become a hiker. The point is that you can still enjoy many of your previous life activities(prior to the painful few months leading up to surgery), but you will need to make a few adjustments.

Additionally, you also need to fine tune your exercise/fitness program to both optimize your general health and stay active in your desired activity. Working out too aggressively can cause joint pain, speed up joint wear and like an overtrained athlete hurt your performance and increase the potential for injury.

Meditation and aging

Does meditation actually benefit the brain and improve memory as we age?

There are two main types of meditation. The first is a concentrated form where the practitioner focuses on breathing or on specific thoughts and suppressing other thoughts. The second focuses on breathing or a meditation sound, but allows the mind to wonder.

While I have not tried either form on a regular basis, my attempts at both types have, in those moments made me more relaxed and helped to clear my mind. More specially and objectively, in those moments I was able to reduce my blood pressure and focus better on my work. Further, the act of challenging my mind/brain to stay singularly focused felt particularly good.

Thus, as the scientific community is working to establish the mechanisms behind meditation and to better understand the breadth its benefits and whether or not it improves memory, my suggestion is to give meditation a try. There appears to be no downside to meditation and growing numbers of studies supporting its benefits.

Set aside 10-15 minutes per day and challenge yourself to learn how to meditate. At the very least, the benefits of overcoming a challenge and learning something new have long been accepted as beneficial.

Zanesco, A.P., et al. Cognitive Aging and Long-Term Maintenance of Attentional Improvements Following Meditation Training. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2018.

Creswell, J.D., et al., Brief mindfulness meditation alters psychological and neuroendocrine responses to social evaluative stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2104: 44: 1.