Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Necessity of Taking Responsibility For Your Health

The book pictured above was written by Manfred Steffny who was a two-time Olympian in the marathon.It is an excellent book that every serious long distance runner should have in his library. In doing a search online as to its availability I was shocked to find used copies were available at for a penny.Now this is just my opinion but Steffny's book is better than 90% of the running books you will find at your local Barnes and Noble.However,my reason for posting a picture of the book was due to the fact that something I read in it gave me the idea for today's article.
Steffny relates that a friend told him,"my daily run is my daily health exam." This person went on to say how once while he was out on a run, he experienced mild discomfort in his chest.This led him to seek help and he was later treated for a heart related ailment.Steffny's friend believed that if he had led a sedentary life this problem might not have been detected till much later when it could have developed into a potentially life threatening condition.
This brings us to a most important topic and that is the necessity of taking personal responsibility for your health and well being. For far too many runners, health means freedom from injuries and other conditions that keep them from training.Their focus is often muscloskeletal rather then total body. Real health involves much more.It pertains to feeling good mentally and physically as well as an absence of various ailments and disease.
I should begin by saying that I have worked for about 40 years in the healthcare field and it is not my intention to bash doctors and other health professionals.But, with that said,only a foolish or uninformed person would leave their health and well-being up to others.The healthcare field today,in many ways,is much worse then the one I entered decades ago.What follows are some things that runners can do to take a proactive approach to their health and well-being.
The first thing is,we should always look to deal with the cause of a problem instead of just treating the symptom(s).Here's an example, ever know runners who take motrin(Ibuprofen) like they're vitamins? Everyday,sometimes two or three times a day, they'll take a few and think nothing of it.Many of you may know this but for those who don't, regular use of motrin is bad for your stomach and will cause a rise in blood pressure.Instead of dealing with what is causing the pain and masking it with a medication,consider what is causing the pain and do something about it.The reality is,and I speak from many years as a medication nurse,is that with every medication there is a side effect.Sometimes the side effects are subtle,sometimes they're not. Take it from me,today's "wonder" drug may later become the subject of a 1-800 ad on television for a legal firm.Fosamax,once heralded as a bone building drug for those who might be prone to developing osteoporosis,has now been found to create brittle bones that can lead to fractures of the femur. Prilosec,the go to drug for acid reflux,causes problems with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and iron. I could go on...and on,but you get the picture,deal with the cause of the problem,don't mask the symptom(s) by taking a pill, which unfortunately most of your healthcare providers are all to ready to prescribe.Looking to the source often takes time and lifestyle changes but isn't it worth it in the long run?
Another thing about taking control of your health,minimize the habits and behaviors that will come back to hurt you in later years. For many,that means making serious lifestyle changes.Our bodies are incredible,they can handle an unbelievable amount of abuse but eventually they will break down.This is a fact that cannot be denied,a certainty.Think of the cigarette smoker who believes that at 25 years of age, lung cancer is what other people get,not them.
Once you get diagnosed with a disease,it too often takes radical intervention to remedy it, if it can even be remedied at all. So, to the runners who: drink too much alcohol, eat crappy foods,push their bodies too hard too often,don't get adequate rest,or, involve themselves in a host of other debilitating behaviors,there will come a point in your life where there will be a breakdown.Sadly,we tend to get addicted to our poor lifestyle choices,be they food,alcohol or whatever,but,once we rid ourselves of them and live and eat simply,life becomes so much better.Make the changes today,get away from that "tomorrow never comes" mindset.                                                                                                                         

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