Words by Richard Rennie
Aching joints, sore back, uneasy sleep and recurring irritability may all seem unrelated, but in fact could be linked to how the body is being fuelled and what it is doing other than being pushed day in day out to keep working on the farm.
Ashburton based health advisor and rehabilitation expert Dave Green has joined the dots for many of his clients, teaching them how to link what they put into their bodies with the energy and well-being they exude from it. That in turn has an impact upon mental wellbeing, and general sense of positivity about life, work and family.
“Working with clients I tend to take a massive overview, looking at everything they consume through a typical day, and from that you can see how it affects their body, whether it is or is not performing, and how they feel in themselves.”
His dietary advice is far from rocket science, instead reinforcing the need to reduce or eliminate the usual suspects that plague western eating patterns, particularly alcohol, sugar, salt, and most processed foods.
Dave’s experience in getting clients on a healthier track by starting with a dietary audit is that once a revamped diet is in place they experience less fatigue, less inflammation, greater clarity of thought and improved respiration. This will often come over a relatively short two-week period.
For Dave setting a better dietary foundation for his clients provides the necessary springboard into shifts in physical exercise routines.
“So often we see people focusing too soon and too much on the ‘physical’ side of their wellbeing improvement, often in big single hits of exercise that yields poorer results than they would like, for the effort they are putting in.”
Mid-life males can be particularly bad for wanting to get into shape quickly by ‘going hard’ in bursts of activity that risk injury to bodies unaccustomed to intense exercise.
“People get injured, feel demoralised and fall into a bit of a vicious cycle, getting depressed and even less motivated.”
He tends to reinforce a “less is more” approach with his clients, and often works on 40-50% less time spent on physical exercises that are more easily fitted into a busy life.
“Often you will only need half an hour, sometimes less, to achieve a positive, healthy exercise experience.”
Many farmers will be more than familiar with the constant ache of a sore back, hip or knee joint, and taking a holistic view on what their day comprises can help design approaches to improving those problems.
“We look at what your lifestyle is, how much time you spend sitting versus moving about, along with your diet, and what foods you may be inflaming the problems with.”
Flexibility is a big issue for many older males, while posture can also be an issue for modern farmers who spend plenty of time on quad bikes and tractors.
One of David’s biggest successes came with a client who confessed to constant back pain for almost 40 years of his life.
“Taking unusually heavy loads at awkward angles at high velocity had really taken its toll. We managed to get rid of it over two years.”
Empathy and humility become two additional talents needed to help people step back from the painful places they often live in. Dave finds himself counselling the mind as much as the body to help clients shrug off the depression and anxiety often accompanying physical injuries.
For farmers the prospect of committing to a gym may be impractical or impossible. Often the social environment it brings can be replicated in other group fitness with similar minded individuals.
“Whatever the activity, it’s important to make it a habit and make it ‘your’ time, ditching the cell phone and gadgets, worries about the business or family, and giving something back to yourself.”
He then points to good sleep habits and lots of hydration throughout the day to strengthen the efforts with exercise and diet.
David has treated a wide spectrum of athletes, musicians and corporate clients over the years, and believes there are many farmers who recognise the need to deal with their physical problems and ensuing mental stress, but are not sure where to start.
“There are plenty of simple exercises and practices you can do every day that will help reduce the fatigue and pain- and you don’t have to be limited by age, age is just a number and the body is a wonderful, complex thing capable of far more than we realise.”
To learn more contact Dave Green: www.dghealthandfitness.com