REASONS TO TRAIN: Sick, Injured, Missing a Limb, Chronic Illness, Low Energy, Depression, Neurodegeneration... All Issues.
Everything people might think are excuses NOT to train are the strongest reasons TO train.
Almost 15 years ago, a client of mine walked into the gym with a cast on her hand and wrist. I was slightly thrown off. She was nonplussed, shrugged, and said, “I figured we could still do 99% of what we normally do.” She was right. Any exercise where that hand would have normally pushed or pulled against a bar, we modified such that I manually resisted in the forearm below the break. She trained harder than before the injury. Her recovery x-Ray showed faster-than-expected healing. Eight weeks later there was no “starting over.” She was more progressed than prior to injury in every lift except Olympic power movements, and only because we had to reintegrate wrist pressures.
A few years later an employee of mine who had actually once been a star client (and a really intriguing case study) broke his wrist and part of one of the forearm bones. We kept his food intake unchanged at 3,800 calories all the weeks he was splinted and directed to avoid activity. I and a few other trainers did manual resistance for every lift he needed to modify. His body composition and athleticism didn’t change AT ALL. He didn’t lose a gram of lean tissue. He didn’t gain one ounce of body fat.
About 4 years ago a client of mine suffered a pretty nasty fall from his bike, messing up one hand/wrist pretty thoroughly. The day he came in after injury, one of the first things we did was a rower sprint... one handed. Then he deadlifted... one handed. Then he did chin ups... one handed. There are piles of research on how the immobilized limb atrophies less or not at all when you train the unaffected side HARD. I call it lobster claw training.
I have a client who is missing one of her legs. She squats and deadlifts. One of my clients in her 70s did heavy squats on Sunday; she had aortic valve replacement in January, and is a multi-stroke survivor. Another coaching client recently had a shoulder dislocation. With some mods, she isn’t a missing a day of training.
When we don’t move, we don’t stimulate the motor cortex in the brain. When we don’t stimulate the motor cortex, we invite rapid deterioration of the entire brain, including the learning centers: https://www.frontiersin.org/…/10.3389/fnins.2018.00336/full…
We take away gravity, and young astronauts get osteoporosis in a couple weeks. “Rest” in the old sense of the word is nonsense. Spinal degeneration is invoked or accelerated by taking loads off of it. Cartilage in joints deteriorates faster in inactive people than in overactive people. Dr. Terry Wahls reversed her nearly-paralytic multiple sclerosis affliction through movement and nutrition. Brain surgery patients recover faster if they do light aerobic activity within a day of surgery. People with colds and flu fair quite a bit better if they do some very light aerobic activity or weights. When you’re in a state of exhaustion, forcing yourself to do some basic activity actually helps to re-regulate circadian rhythm, hormonal cascades, neurotransmitter balance (mental health), and even the receptors within the citric acid cycle on which we rely for what we call the feeling of “energy” mentally and physically.
Every single legitimate-sounding pretext for inactivity has thousands of counter-examples and powerful scientific counter-arguments. What one person holds up as an excuse NOT to train is a verifiable reason TO train from another perspective.