I recently heard someone say, “life today is about losing weight and paying bills”. Is it possible that even those two are linked? More importantly, are there key health markers that portray the confidence that attracts career success?
It does not matter what industry you are in; good health is everyone’s business and you are doing a disservice to your health whether you know it or not if you have to sit for more than eight hours a day doing your job or relaxing in your leisure. Why? You may be asking yourself, “what if my dream is to lay on beach all day, how can that possibly be bad for my health?”
First off, you are not of piece of wood… we are moving creatures by design. We have a purpose and that is to be blessed with the use of our physical bodies to work on our creativity and achieve the goals we set for ourselves, whatever they may be. When it relates to our vocations, we are meant ideally to work physically to the best of our abilities, for not only our own satisfaction and reward, but for the benefit of mankind in general. A healthy society is a prosperous society.
Secondly, subconscious biases contribute to our decision making in ways that affect not just our lives, but the lives of others. As such your appearance is important to your career success and the way others perceive you.
Look, this is not about a diet fad or being in a specific range of body fat, but rather about being in control of your body and being able to function with ease.
So just how do we as aviation professionals, in our extremely busy and erratic schedules, keep the balance between burn and fuel? Well for starters, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. That is not to say you should get on a weighing scale before and after every workout, but you should keep an eye on weekly changes.
There is a huge responsibility to be informed about how much and what you put into your body. What you eat and drink on those long, 12 hour night shifts is up to 50% of the overall score, with exercise being the other 50%. Luckily, with technology there are so many interesting ways to keep track of everything. Beware if you have a tendency to obsess, as this can become a slippery slope towards depression if you crave instant gratification.
Physical fitness requirements for aviation jobs
Pilots – As a pilot you’ll want to work on strengthening your core for sitting during long hours and thigh muscles for handling flight controls. It is also helpful to remember that you are the face of the airline and paying passengers expect a certain level of professionalism that should reflect in your appearance.
AMEs – In this job, you will engage your body in a lot of different stress-inducing positions like kneeling, bending, climbing, standing, and reaching. Most job offers in this line of work ask that you are able to repeatedly lift loads of up to 50lbs. In fact, you just need to train to be a ninja. Jokes aside, you will rack up some good miles in your steel toe boots, and changing your socks and insoles will save your feet from maximum damage.
Air Traffic Controllers – This job is one of the most mentally tasking and as such, in order to abate stress you need to keep your body in very healthy condition. You will be required to sit for several hours while giving your full concentration and thus any discomfort that could be a distraction should be prevented.
Flight Crew – Your job is extremely important as you interact with passengers, carry loads, and push trolleys while on board the aircraft. You need to be able to move quickly, maintain balance, and appear confident and approachable. Your schedule will likely be unpredictable and as such you might find yourself in unfamiliar places, so packing and preparing your meals can easily become a challenge. Having a distinguished exercise regime is a necessity.
Ramp Attendant – The daily routine is chaotic at best and physically demanding. You’ll likely work shift rotations and that means you’ll be on a 12 hour morning or night shift. Working out during your 4/5 day stint is a tall order for most people but on your days off you should incorporate some kind of exercise.
Avionics Technicians – Flexibility exercises are important for this group as you’ll be crawling and climbing into tight spaces. You are not immune to the stresses of shift and rotation work, though not as physically demanding as AMEs or ramp attendants.
Flight Dispatchers – Your job requires almost as much concentration as an air traffic controllers job. Similarly, you can expect long hours in a seated position; core and back alignment training will do you a great deal of good.
The list goes on and on for other careers in aviation and I think you get the gist.
According to a recent study in Longevity Magazine of World Health, “a single session of exercise alters 9,815 of the 17,662 different molecules in our blood that were measured in this study, with the types of molecules widely ranging and some being involved in fueling, metabolism, immune responses, tissue repair, or appetite. Within those categories the molecular courses changed within an hour with those that increase inflammation surging early than dropping to be replaced with those more likely to help reduce inflammation.”
This study is suggested to be the most comprehensive catalogue to date of the molecular changes that occur during and after exercise, which highlights how consequential activity/inactivity may be for the human body and health.
Overall the researchers were surprised by their findings regarding what they were observing in the changes in molecular profiles after exercise. “I had thought, it’s only about nine minutes of exercise, how much is going to change? A lot, as it turns out,” said Dr. Snyder.
Our take from that is that every little bit counts and could have a huge impact on your wellbeing. However, the problem for most of us, especially if we sit for more than eight hours doing our jobs, is this: our inactivity could be putting us at risk for something called ‘diabesity’. Yeah, that’s right, you read that correctly.
The leading cause of most chronic diseases in the 21st century is Insulin Resistance. The medical community is referring to this as ‘diabesity,’ a twin pandemic of diabetes and obesity. The rapid spread of ‘diabesity’ throughout the world is staggering. It is the #3 killer in the USA, and soon to be #1 in the world. Most people like myself, that are suffering from ‘diabesity’ had no idea how deadly it is, or that it’s nearly 100% preventable, treatable, and reversible. The greatest prevention of ‘diabesity’ is the implementation of healthy eating regime and a realistic exercise program. Most of us conjure up the thought that we will have to eat rabbit food for the rest of our lives, but it doesn’t have to be that restrictive.
There are many programs that can lead you in the right direction, but allow you to still live a normal life without depriving your taste buds of the foods you’ve always loved. All that is required is a little discipline and moderation. If you know you need to make a change in your life and you are unsure where to start, start with this quiz to see if you meet the entry criteria to join our unique lifestyle change regime. Our transformations are not done in the traditional way you may be envisioning… Some special incentives and accountability are provided along the way to those who are determined to meet or exceed their goals.
However, before one can even consider doing any kind of program to improve your health, you first have to be in a position to move physically. Are you achy? Do your joints have constant pain? Some of us have limited mobility due to these pains, so how do we hold onto the hope of improving our health? Again, there are many options on the market that can aid you in this area, but be sure to check with your doctor before you start any physical activity or supplementation to ensure they don’t interfere with any medications you might be taking.
Just like the excerpt at the beginning of this article expounded on how much of an effect a little exercise has on the body, especially our blood cells, imagine what your cells could do if they had the proper supplementation of oxygen? This would aid in your increased ability to move with little to no pain, not to mention better mental clarity and improved lung capacity… the list goes on and on. This is true for healthy people, let alone those who are not. Refer to my Facebook page for one option that may help you in this area. Once your mobility has improved, then I will be able to help you tackle other habits to achieve a zestful and renewed lifestyle. Many have accomplished this transition; it depends on you and if your wake up call is enough to motivate you make the change.
As a fleet manager/dispatcher for a major trucking company, I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I am overweight. Just like a trucker, I sit all day behind a computer in a stressful environment managing a fleet of 70+ trucks moving through their assigned routes. This is what has inspired me to be an advocate for the industry, in hopes of reversing the statistics. I have had to change my lifestyle for the better. I have lost 25 pounds so far, and I am a continued work in progress. I look forward to the day my doctor tells me I can stop my medications because my lifestyle change has reversed my diagnosis. I have discovered that it is not solely the trucking industry that is experiencing the issue of ‘diabesity’.
If you have any sort of health program within your company that encourages regular paid or unpaid exercise program or memberships, please take advantage of it no matter what your age or your current physical condition. Every little bit helps, and you can only improve from there; even when travelling there are things you can do to stay fit. Exercise for your soul, mind and body. Keep your joints as flexible as possible, and your muscles challenged with resistance to maintain strength. This will help even those who already have a form of exercise in the routine of their job.
“A successful career begs for wholeness; mental, social and physical.”
Wilf Richter – Author