The Difference Between Your Body & Your Car
I bought the Jeep I still currently drive when I was a senior in high school. It’s a 2005 and had 60,000 miles on it at the time. I was the happiest girl in the world when I wrote that check to make my first big-girl purchase, and I’m still proud of the fact that my mom and dad made me save up my own money to buy it. Fast-forward almost 10 years later, and that Jeep now has an extra 100,000 miles on it. It’s been through some pretty major life changes with me, and I’m not going to say I’m attached to it, but I will say I strongly believe that a brand new car is one of the dumbest things a person can buy/own (sorry—don’t come after me if you just bought a new car).
Ok, before I go on a whole personal finance tangent, let’s bring this to the main point. After 100,000 miles and nearly 10 years, my Jeep has seen better days. The paint is starting to chip and rust, the A/C is questionable at best, I’ve had to replace several parts, and it leaks oil from time to time. But hey, that has to be expected from a car that’s 16 years old with that many miles. Basically what I’m saying is that the more you drive your car, the more it breaks down and wears out. This is just common sense.
What’s interesting is I’m finding that people tend to view their bodies in the same way. I often hear, “My joints are just shot from years of sports or weight lifting”, or, “I train really hard so I’ll always be broken in some way”. The common belief is that your body is fragile and deteriorates and wears out with continued use. And while part of that is true and a natural part of the aging process, it is largely a misconception when it comes to being active. Being active is actually one of the best things you can do to PREVENT (or even reverse) this wear and tear from happening in your body.
Let’s take weight training for example. We know that as a normal part of the aging process, we tend to lose muscle mass and bone density gradually over time. But resistance training can quite literally reverse this process, because your body does not respond to use and strain the same way a car does. With continued use and load, your body actually adapts and changes to accommodate this, and it gets stronger (Wolff’s Law). What we see as a result is actually an increase in bone density, muscle mass, and tendon/ligament thickness.
In fact, there was a study conducted in 2019 (read it here) that looked at female collegiate soccer players over the course of a competitive season. What they found over the duration of the season was that there was a measurable increase in thickness of the players’ ACLs by the end of the season compared to the beginning. Putting their bodies through physical stress and demand did NOT wear their joints out—it actually strengthened them. And this is just one example of this phenomenon. Pretty freaking cool. While injuries and pain can occur during exercise and are a normal part of life, you are still doing your body a massive favor by moving it and placing it under regular stress. In fact, I would argue that the quickest way for your body to actually break down is to NOT move it. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the most detrimental things for your musculoskeletal health and will certainly speed up the progression of arthritis, osteoporosis, and inflammatory processes in the body. And no, “getting old” is not a valid excuse to not be moving, but rather, a huge reason to keep or start moving. I am not here to shame you into exercising. I’m here because I’m passionate about taking control of your health and using movement as medicine. It’s literally free. (Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go on a personal finance tangent? Still really trying to hold off on that. But moving your body regularly seems like a small price to pay compared to the astronomical cost of health care to resolve a bigger issue down the road.)
So my challenge to you is this: let’s change the way we view and talk about our bodies. Let’s shift from a mindset of “broken and fragile”, to “resilient, strong, and adaptable”. Let’s allow this to also change the way we think of exercise and movement. What if we thought of it as a way to increase our longevity, strengthen our bodies, increase resilience, and better adapt to life’s stressors, rather than a calorie-torching task to burn off your last meal or the cookies you ate yesterday? I think it’d be a real game-changer.