change

Still young and possibly facing life in a wheelchair she turned things around

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Kate’s doctor informed her that if things continued on the same path, she may be confined to a wheelchair in six months.  Kate is still young; she has a rare genetic muscular disorder that has made her progressively weaker to the point that it has adversely affected her balance.

It has been six months since she started strength training with Glenn at our Austin Strength Training facility – no wheelchair for Kate.  She is stronger and her balance has improved remarkably. Her family was elated to see her walking in heels again, at a quicker pace, and up and down hills no less. This is not a small victory for Kate.

Glenn faced a similar prognosis because of his Multiple Sclerosis.  He was told that he would need a wheelchair within five years, so he began strength training. That was 12 years ago – no wheelchair for Glenn either.

It can be overwhelming when confronted with these health challenges.  You don’t know where to start - therapies, diet, life-style changes, supplements, and an endless array of exercise options. Consider strength training.  A long list of health problems can be alleviated with the right strength training program. The program should be customized to the individual’s needs and take into account these considerations:

  • It would use equipment and a protocol adaptable to working with those with limiting conditions such as Kate’s as well those in top physical shape.

  • It would deliver the minimum effective dose of exercise. The dose that produces the best result; any exercise beyond that is a waste of time and at worst detrimental. It was essential for Kate’s success that she not to overtax her limited recovery ability.

  • It would produce quantifiable improvement each week. Tracking that improvement is important for dosing considerations. Also, seeing and experiencing that improvement is powerful motivation for Kate.

    Each week Kate lifts a little more, she lifts a little longer, and takes a little less time between exercises. Over time these changes add up. As Kate can attest, these changes can be profoundly life-changing.

Yes Virginia, there is good news in your declining health

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So you haven’t exercised consistently in years, and each year, you have gained a pound or two. That fat gain is accompanied by a decline in fat burning hormones, foremost among them testosterone.  Weight gain leads to lower testosterone; lower testosterone leads to even more weight gain - a vicious cycle. 

With that weight gain comes elevated blood sugar and cholesterol levels, plus the threat of metabolic syndrome and all that the syndrome entails - type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a life cut short.   

You become less active. With that comes a decline in mitochondrial capacity  (your cells’ capacity to produce energy).  The result is even more inactivity and another vicious cycle.

Because you have not done sustained demanding work in years you become weaker. Human growth hormone - necessary for maintaining muscle and bone mass - declines quicker than age would otherwise dictate. Your muscle mass decreases, muscles become weaker, and bone density loss accelerates. 

Your heart becomes weaker. Strong muscles push the cardiovascular system and are necessary to condition the heart. Maintaining strong muscles results in a long list cardiovascular benefits.   

Weaker muscles make it harder to keep your balance. This leads to falling and possible serious injury. 

Your respiratory system becomes weaker.  Your forced expiratory volume (how much air you can forcibly exhale) goes down; pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses pose bigger threats than should be. 

Cognitive decline begins. Without vigorous exercise there is less neurogenesis (the production of new brain cells), and there is a decline in brain-derived neurotrophic factor - important for the growth and survival of those brain cells. 

Aches and pains prevail. Pains dictates your range of motion.  That range becomes increasingly restricted.  Pain causes inflammation; chronic inflammation of joints results in arthritis. 

Pain, inactivity, and declining health can lead to depression.  You are not powerless to change this course. There is good news:

  • All this can be reversed, sometimes dramatically.

  • Unfit subjects’ relative improvement from exercise will be far greater than fit subjects’ improvement.

  • It takes as little as 30 minutes of exercise a week to see that improvement.

While that is not the prevailing wisdom regarding the frequency of exercise, the proof is in the results.  We have clients who have experienced these benefits:

Start now. If you don’t have the time for exercise now you will have to make time for sickness and injury later on. At our Austin Strength Training facility we can guide you through a workout suitable for your age and condition.  Each week you will lift a little more, lift a little longer, and take a little less time between exercises.  Over time these small steps add up. You will reverse the path you are on, and best of all, as your fitness improves you will be more inclined to be active, further enhancing your health and quality of life.

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Best to make changes while you still have that option

“When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can't make them change if they don't want to, just like when they do want to, you can't stop them.”  ― Andy Warhol

People intend to change, but often don’t follow through. It has been my observation that most people don’t change until they hit bottom. Heart surgery and kidney removal will usually do it. Having your doctor inform you that you might have had a silent heart attack will usually do it.

The silver lining of hitting bottom health-wise is that you have more upside from exercise; the improvements are more profound, and they serve as powerful motivation to stick to an exercise program.

Starting an exercise program can be daunting if you don’t know what you are doing - how often, how long, how hard, and what kind of exercise should you do? You don’t want to spin your wheels with long hours in the gym.

An exercise program that requires you to go to a gym two or three times a week for an hour or more is useless if you don’t stick to it. At Austin Strength Training and New Orleans Strength Training our goal is not to see how often we can get you to come it in. We start from the premise that instead of seeing how much exercise you can withstand, we determine what’s the least amount that will produce the most improvement. You’ll improve each week and get to where you need to be. This is an exercise program you can stick to.