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No Longer Active: From Vets to Construction Workers, Surviving a Sedentary Life

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Dona Stark

No Longer Active: From Vets to Construction Workers, Surviving a Sedentary Life

If there is one thing that most people look forward to in May, it’s the three-day weekend that encompasses both the arrival of Memorial Day and the start of our summer. But let’s not forget that the entire month of May is also dedicated to honoring our military heroes.

May is Military Appreciation Month, and as we reflect on the service and sacrifice of our service members, let’s also consider the unique challenges they face when transitioning from such a demanding profession to a more sedentary routine and lifestyle. This shift in life can be mentally taxing while introducing significant obstacles to maintaining exceptional health and wellness. Like athletes and physical laborers, military veterans must proactively find ways to maintain and monitor their overall well-being.

This requires a strategic plan, but that shouldn’t be a problem because if there is anything that these three groups know well, it’s how to strategize, implement, and execute

Challenges Faced by Many After a Major Lifestyle Shift

A strategic life plan is crucial after any major shift in lifestyle. This is because many of the changes that accompany that shift can negatively impact one’s overall wellness and quality of life if they aren’t prepared. Veterans, athletes, and those with a physically demanding job—and it’s not limited to males—may be faced with the following struggles after leaving or retiring from their profession.

  • A sudden decrease in physical activity
  • Boredom, lack of motivation, meaning, or purpose
  • Too much free time, not having a structured routine
  • Feelings of isolation, losing important connections to others

It’s easy to see how the issues listed above can lead to physical, mental, and emotional health issues. This underscores the importance of creating a realistic plan of action that will address these specific challenges and ensure successful results.

The Importance of a New Life Plan

Your overall health and quality of life are the reasons why you need to switch gears and create a new plan for your life. If you aren’t careful, the challenges listed above can easily lead to weight gain, significant health issues, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Establishing new routines for the different areas of your life is vital if you want to ensure a smooth and healthy transition. Here are just a few suggestions on what needs to be prioritized.

Fitness

Establish a new exercise routine that is suited to your lifestyle and has realistic goals. Don’t feel defeated if you are not able to maintain the level of fitness you were once at either. If you are consistent and dedicated to your new fitness plan, you will gradually improve. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, along with incorporating strength training at least two days a week. Strength training the major muscle groups in your body is important as it can help reduce the risk of accidental falls, injuries, osteoporosis, and joint degeneration.

Activities to consider including in your fitness plan are:

  • High-intensity exercise -This type of workout involves short bursts of intense exercise (to increase your heart rate) followed by brief periods of rest. Examples include kettlebell swings, burpees, and hill sprints.
  • Low-impact exercise - These workouts raise your heart rate gradually and place less stress on your joints. Examples include walking, swimming, yoga, and Pilates.
  • Strength Training - Strength training exercises can involve dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, weight machines, and body weight exercises. Don’t forget to include balance exercises while doing these.

Whether you choose a high-intensity workout or a low-impact activity, it’s important to remember that consistency is the most important aspect of achieving your goals. If you need help designing a new fitness plan, just ask a personal trainer for assistance.

Diet and Nutrition

Consume a nutrient-dense diet full of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. Try to cut back or eliminate processed foods that are high in sodium, sugar, saturated fat, and additives, and drink the recommended amount of water each day. You may also want to ask your healthcare professional if supplements are needed to fill in any nutritional gaps.

A healthy diet is the first step toward lowering blood pressure, losing weight, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a sweet treat or glass of wine now and then. The key idea here is to enjoy those things in moderation and keep everything in balance.

Mental and Emotional Health

Mental and emotional health issues can have a serious impact on a person’s overall health and quality of life. For some people, small issues may initially seem insignificant, but if left unchecked, they can snowball into something that may actually be quite hard to come back from. Some of the best ways to address these types of issues are to:

  • Engage in social activities
  • Pursue hobbies or volunteer
  • Prioritize daily connections with family and friends
  • Join support groups
  • Go out of your way to greet neighbors
  • Adopt a pet

Although the suggestions above are great at minimizing loneliness and isolation, they may not be enough if you are really struggling. In these cases, it’s best to reach out to a professional counselor or therapist. If you are a veteran, you can contact the Veterans/Military Crisis Line (in the United States, dial 988, then press 1 or text 838255). You can also reach out to the Vet Center Call Center at 1-877-927-8387 to talk about your military experience or any other issue you may be facing during your readjustment to civilian life. All calls are confidential.

National Guard Service Members

The transition from a physically demanding career to a more sedentary lifestyle poses unique issues for veterans, athletes, and physical laborers, however, it’s particularly challenging for those serving in the National Guard, whose frequency of deployment may vary. The constant back and forth between military service and civilian careers, family obligations, and responsibilities can be riddled with hurdles. The transitions National Guard members go through can create significant stress and uncertainty but underscore the importance of a well-supported lifestyle plan.

Remember, the transition from a physically active job to a more sedentary lifestyle can be challenging, but with a proactive, balanced, and realistic plan, you can maintain or improve your overall health, well-being, and quality of life.

The Joint Chiropractic Is Here to Help

No matter where you are in this transition (even if you are just about to embark on this new journey in life), your local chiropractors at The Joint Chiropractic are here to assist.

Routine chiropractic care may improve your overall health and wellness by placing your spine and other joints in proper alignment. Proper alignment of the body helps by:

  • Strengthening the function of your nervous system
  • Increasing mobility, flexibility, and range of motion
  • Improving balance, stability, and coordination
  • Reducing the risk of stress, depression, and future injuries and health issues
  • Aiding in the healing and recovery process of present injuries
  • Enhancing sleep quality

In addition to getting your body perfectly aligned, your chiropractor can assist with getting other parts of your life aligned by offering suggestions on how to work out, stretch, and clean up your diet. You’ve got nothing to lose and so many health benefits to gain, so visit the closest clinic to your home today. If you are a veteran, be sure to take advantage of their military discount!

Transitions Can Be Difficult

Nobody said this transition in your life will be easy. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. However, if you plan accordingly and prepare for the journey, you may find that it won’t be nearly so difficult to strategize, implement, and execute. Remember, you were built for this!

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