Strength Training and the Dentist’s Dilemma:
Are Dentist’s ‘Too Busy’ to Workout?
–By Dr. DeAngelo S. Webster
Many of us have heard of HIT training exercise routines, but few of us know the history of its origins. Many of us also probably know a few dentists who are overweight and/or out of shape. Maybe you are a dentist who is overweight and/or out of shape. As a busy professional, it always seems as though there is just not enough time in the day for a rigorous fitness routine to be added onto the pile of responsibilities we have.
In the past few months, I have put on 15 pounds of mostly-muscle weight and would like to share some thoughts.
In his thought-provoking body of work, renowned bodybuilder and philosopher Mike Mentzer posited a seemingly radical idea that would unsettle the exercise community: less can indeed be more. This idea, crystallized in his High-Intensity Training (HIT) philosophy, is one we’d be wise to consider when contemplating the physical and mental well-being of an unexpected group – dentists.
First, a quick step back into history. Consider the case of Pierre Fauchard, often hailed as the “Father of Modern Dentistry.” A man of the Enlightenment Era, Fauchard was as dedicated to his own physical health as he was to the oral health of his patients. His passion for physical exercise was a rarity in his time, yet he maintained a steadfast belief in its necessity. Fauchard understood that his profession was as taxing on his body as it was on his mind.
Fast forward a few centuries, and we find a profession rife with physical discomfort. The dental profession is notorious for inducing musculoskeletal disorders, with the prevalence of such issues in dentists and dental hygienists often surpassing that of the general population. Hours spent hunched over patients, performing intricate procedures with unerring precision, take a toll on the body. These actions leave us in pain. We all know an older dentist who has a body which showcases the absolute wreckage that dentistry can perform on our posture and physical frame over the decades.
Now, let’s apply Mentzer’s philosophy here. It’s no secret that exercise is a proven antidote to these physical ailments. But Mentzer’s HIT goes a step further. It argues that high-intensity strength training – short, focused workouts that fully exhaust the muscles – can be more beneficial than spending hours doing mindless repetitions at the gym.
A dentist lifting weights under the HIT paradigm is engaging in a powerful form of preventative medicine. (Recall this earlier article about the value of investing in your body as a dentist.)High-intensity strength training helps improve posture, combat the effects of prolonged static positions, and enhance overall physical resilience. Moreover, it does so in a time-efficient manner – a crucial factor for busy professionals.
For instance, imagine Dr. Sarah, a young dentist struggling with early signs of a musculoskeletal disorder. She decides to adopt HIT, squeezing in short, intense weight-lifting sessions into her packed schedule. Over time, her physical complaints begin to fade, replaced by a newfound strength and improved posture. Additionally, Dr. Sarah begins to carry herself with a new confidence and pride as the muscles of her body develop and provide an esthetic benefit to her.
A recurring challenge that many dentists face is time scarcity. Caught in the demands of their work, personal life, and professional development, they often find little time left for extended periods of exercise. This is where Mike Mentzer’s High-Intensity Training shines as a remarkably efficient solution.
Mentzer’s HIT isn’t about spending hours at the gym every day. Instead, it focuses on shorter, more intense workouts. A dentist could effectively complete a HIT routine within a half-hour break, between patient appointments, or even before starting their day.
Consider the story of a hypothetical Dr. Louis, a dentist with his own practice, a father to three young children, and an individual with a packed schedule. He had always understood the value of exercise, but struggled to find the time. When he discovered Mentzer’s HIT philosophy, it was a revelation. He could incorporate brief but intensive exercise sessions into his lunch breaks or between his morning preparations and the start of his workday.
The transformative effect on Dr. Louis was palpable. Not only did he start seeing improvements in his strength and posture, but he also noticed a difference in his energy levels and mental clarity. His time constraints no longer kept him from maintaining a consistent exercise regimen. These benefits go far beyond becoming a jacked bodybuilder like Mike Mentzer. These benefits transcend into helping the dentist live a life in which they simply feel better and have more vitality due to improved health.
The HIT philosophy, in essence, redefines what an ‘exercise routine’ can look like. It tosses aside the notion that only prolonged, time-consuming workouts can yield results. Instead, it proposes a model where exercise efficiency is key. This model is a perfect fit for dentists and other time-strapped individuals, providing them with a means to maintain physical health and strength without straining their tight schedules.
The synthesis of time efficiency and effectiveness in Mentzer’s HIT holds the potential to not only revolutionize personal fitness regimes but also drastically improve overall health and work-life balance for dentists and busy professionals alike. The HIT philosophy, when understood and applied correctly, can therefore serve as a vital tool in maintaining and enhancing the holistic well-being of those constantly racing against the clock.
Mentzer’s philosophy also holds lessons for the psychological aspects of dentistry. Consider the stress of a dental practice, the burden of precision, and the emotional weight of patients’ anxiety. Dentists often report high levels of stress and burnout. Here too, Mentzer’s HIT could be a powerful tool. Physical exercise is well documented as a stress reliever. High-intensity strength training, in particular, offers an outlet for stress, providing mental clarity, and enhancing mood through the release of endorphins.
Returning to our historical path, let’s look at the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates. Often quoted, yet worth repeating, he claimed, “That which is used – develops. That which is not used wastes away.” Additionally he has been quoted as, “The grestest medicine of all, is teaching people not to need it.” Hippocrates, like Fauchard, intuitively understood the importance of physical strength and well-being for medical practitioners. As busy healthcare professionals it can be easy to fall into a state of poor health our selves by neglecting to exercise due to time constraints.
Bringing the wisdom of the past into the present, we can see the tremendous value Mentzer’s philosophy offers for our dentists. The world of dentistry is physically demanding, mentally taxing, and replete with challenges. It calls for a strategy of well-being that is both effective and efficient. In Mike Mentzer’s High-Intensity Training, we might just find the surprising solution to the dentist’s dilemma.
-Dr. DeAngelo S. Webster
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