Monday, October 31, 2016

How Snow-Skiing Made Me Get in Better Shape

The climate here allows us to spend a great deal of the year outdoors, enjoying all that nature has to offer. We garden, run, golf, hunt, fish, swim, water-ski, skydive, motorcycle and everything else. We can do almost all of it throughout the year — but we don’t snow-ski in Mississippi.

That didn’t stop me from trying a couple of years ago while visiting my daughter who was working in Wyoming. My son and I flew out to visit her, and we decided that we would get the whole skiing experience in one day. We got our clothes and equipment and met on the slope for lessons.

My son cried “uncle” after about an hour and left to find a beer. My daughter was deemed a “natural” by the instructor and found great pleasure skiing circles around her father.

If I heard, “Sir, are you OK?” once, I heard it a thousand times. As long as I was left alone to imitate Franz Klammer’s downhill run from the 1976 Olympics, I was fine. But when it came to turning and stopping, I had difficulty. I discovered that falling repeatedly in seemingly soft, fluffy snow eventually begins to hurt.

The worst part was all of the standing! I was exhausted from all of the standing! I was trying to pull myself up using the ski poles because my legs refused to work.

The next day, all that physical exertion caught up to me and made even the slightest movements excruciating. I couldn’t sleep since any movement more involved than breathing sent electric shocks throughout my body. I faced the realization that I was out of shape.

So, last year, I signed up for a strength class called Amazing 12. By using free weights, body-weight exercises and kettlebells, I’ve made gains with physical strength that I haven’t known for nearly 30 years. I’ve gotten rid of all sorts of aches and pains and limitations that I had before training and feel better than I have in a long, long time. The first few weeks made me feel a lot like I felt after my skiing experience: It hurt to sit or stand or walk or breathe.

Sure, I could’ve done this at home. I’ve got a spare bedroom that has a workout machine and a weight bench and other fitness devices. You’d be amazed at how many clothes you can hang from a workout machine. And if you put a 30-pound dumbbell on a rug, that rug will not move at all!

Which is why I made the commitment to sign up for a class at a specified time. I’ve got a trainer waiting on me, and she holds me accountable. I feel guilty when I miss class. I’ve made a bunch of new friends and even have found some new patients in the process.

It’s amazing how much strength we lose as we get older, as those under-used muscles atrophy. I’m not entering any body-building contests any time soon, but there are many day-to-day tasks that are made easier by increasing physical strength. The water bottle in the lounge is no longer such a nemesis. Standing up from the altar in church doesn’t require pulling myself up with my arms. I can carry a sheet of plywood without dropping it on my foot. And doesn’t performing dental extractions require a modicum of force?

It seems like the younger dentists these days are all in great physical shape from running marathons and such, but us older folks can benefit from an increase in physical activity, too. You heard it here first!

Bruce M. Scarborough, DMD, FAGD


Jabe said...

Educational story. I also must admit that since going over 40 my body hasn't been what it used to be, and time for exercise has been less and less. After reading this I gonna enroll in the gym again this weekend.

Unknown said...

Couldn't agree with you more. In fact strength training even helped me at work and helps me maintain good posture. Did you find that too?

goostardmd said...


goostardmd said...

Yes, Zeynep, it definitely did!!


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