The 'New' New Year's Resolution

Published: 12-26-2009
As pilots, we know that without our health, our career is over. The standards of the FAA's First Class Physical are becoming more strict, while at the same pilots are finding less time available to care for their bodies.  Over the past decade pilots have collectively seen an increase in duty/flight time, a decrease in days off,  and a decrease in the availability of quality food choices while on a layover.  The good news is that you can easily make positive changes that can last a lifetime.

Dr. Kari Hamrick of Navigate Nutrition adds "...For many people, finding time to exercise and making the effort to eat right are often the last thing on the day's agenda. Trying to balance, work, family, relationships and the other demands of your life is definitely a challenge. However, if you make physical fitness and healthy lifestyle a priority, you will find more energy and enthusiasm for the other areas of your life. Small but significant steps leads to lasting lifestyle change." Dr. Hamrick emphasises that the key is making small but lasting changes in your daily routine. Drastic diets or unrealistic exercise routines are often the basis for disappointment. Baby Steps.

It takes time to develop new habits, so a positive and patient attitude is essential. You will not become an athlete overnight, but by slowly changing your internal priorities towards proper diet and exercise, you will find a new lifestyle that encourages fitness.

There is no right or wrong way to stay active. Find something that works for you whether it’s getting an extra walk by parking in the furthest space, taking the stairs, joining a sports league, exercise while watching TV, or training for a marathon. There are so many options and sometimes we don’t realize how life provides many opportunities to be active – we just have to recognize them.

You might also consider several sessions with a qualified coach or personal trainer to learn what to do to reach your fitness goals. Many pilots have discovered CrossFit which is a core strength and conditioning program that affordably integrates personal training and regular coaching and small classes. CrossFit is not a specialized fitness program but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of the ten generally recognized physical skills which are cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

CrossFit Gig Harbor,, located in Gig Harbor, WA, starts new clients with 6 private personal training sessions to safely introduce them to the movements and exercises. After the personal training sessions, athletes are "graduated" into coached daily classes that average 8-10 other athletes that meet 4-5 time each week. For pilots, Crossfit is ideal because the Workout of the Day (WOD) is published on the web and most can be completed with basic hotel exercise room equipment. Additionally, there are thousands of CrossFit affiliates worldwide, and chances are good that you can visit an affiliate on a layover.

CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide. The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. "Scaling" the program means that everyone does the same workout, but at appropriate intensity and weights.

Finally, there are virtual exercise communities popping-up on the web where "members" never actually meet each other. A good example is the FlightPod TV running club started several months ago by FlightPod TV founder Mike McCoy. The club uses inexpensive Nike Plus and Apple iPod equipment to track their runs and automatically track each others progress online.

The bottom line is that it's never to late to invest time in your health. After all, as a pilot, without your health what do you have?

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