Three Reasons Why Dentists Must Take Care of Their Bodies and How They Can Reap The Rewards If They Do So
Do you treat your body like a high performance formula one race car or a carcass that takes you from point A to point B? How you answer this question tells a lot about how you not only see yourself but how well you care for yourself. Some of you will not need reasons to take care of yourself….you know this stuff already. I am not talking to the 10% of the health care professionals that exercise, eat healthy and get regular massage therapy. This is more for the 90% who have yet to make a firm commitment to treating their body like a temple.
Reason 1 – Most dentists do their best work sitting. We are the most productive when we have a hand-piece in our hand and we are cutting crown preps or placing implants. Sad news – there are major metabolic consequences for sitting for extended periods. Exercise specialists have studied exercise benefits for years but it’s only the last five that they have turned their attention to sitting.
Why? In the history of human civilization we have never sat this much. 70% of our waking time is spent on our behinds. The physiological costs of muscular unloading (an exercise scientist term for sitting) are: higher HDL production (bad cholesterol); higher blood sugar (as the body suppresses LPL in the sitting position); and poor blood flow to the brain. The brain at only three pounds is an oxygen hog. It requires 20% of the incoming 02. If it’s not getting what it craves it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and it physically, emotionally and mentally drains your body of energy and enthusiasm.
SOLUTION: An Australian study reported that by getting up and moving a couple minutes every 30 minutes it reboots your metabolism and helps boost circulation to your big brain and ultimately you will be more productive. Every 30 minutes of course isn’t practical but going for a short walk mid morning or at lunch would go a long way to reboot your sluggish metabolism.
Reason 2 – Dont skip sleep. Many hard-driving super achievers brag that they don’t sleep much and can go days without eight hours sleep. I used to be one of those until one day in November 2013, I was sitting in the front row of a neurophysiologist’s lecture on the value of sleep. He reported that getting less than seven hours sleep on a routine basis increases the likelihood of developing serious diseases…cardiovascular disease, cancer and arthritis….and it also dulls your brain.
November 12th 2013 I went to bed at 11pm and got up at 6:30am the next morning and have since made a commitment to get a good night’s sleep more often. I went on to read more about this little used performance aid “SLEEP” and saw that sleep helps to improve your memory and process emotion and reboots our immune system. When I learnt that a regular exercise program boosted all sleep quality it reaffirmed my commitment to my lifelong practice of physical fitness.
Reason 3 – Deal with anything. An article in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that regular exercisers have less of a knee jerk reaction to stressful situations and therefor are able to respond with all their tools in their tool chest vs simple “fight or flight.” This 2012 study with firefighters and police officers showed that fit emergency personnel had adaptations to their central nervous system that made them better able to handle stress.
Extrapolating this to the dental industry or all healthy care industries – which have their share of stress – you can easily see that a regular exercise program would be a welcome habit. And the benefits of exercise would go far beyond looking great at your college or university reunion.
I know many of you know that regular exercise and restful sleep is good for the body. Socrates said that all learning is simply remembering. So like a good friend I am reminding you of the value of rekindling excellent self-care practices.
Dr Uche Phillip Odiatu BA, DMD, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer is the author of The Miracle of Health & Fit for the LOVE of IT! This practicing dentist is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer & professional member of the American College of Sports Medicine. He has lectured in the USA, Canada, England, Denmark, Jamaica and the Bahamas.