Pilots: Why Fitness & Health Matter
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Pilots: Why Fitness & Health Matter

Whether you are a pilot, co-pilot, or the average person, it is important to exercise due diligence with your health.There are many people who depend on each one of us, from our spouse and kids to strangers on the street. Our health and overall fitness affects everyone around us.There is an old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Preventing health problems and disease is our responsibility.

What was the 3rd Class Medical Reform ruling and how does it apply to me?
According to the AOPA article, "Medical Reform Becomes Law, " Under the reforms, pilots who have held a valid medical certificate any time in the decade prior to July 15, 2016, may not need to take another FAA medical exam. The 10-year lookback period applies to both regular and special issuance medicals. Pilots whose most recent medical certificate was revoked, suspended, withdrawn, or denied will need to obtain a new medical certificate before they can operate under the reforms. Pilots who have never held an FAA medical certificate, including student pilots, will need to go through the process one time only." First-time pilots must go through the medical certification process once. Pilots who have held a valid medical certificate 10 years prior to July 15, 2016 might not need to take another medical exam through the FAA. Light sport pilots still only need a valid driver's license to fly a light sport airplane.

I don't have to worry about losing my pilot's license-- or do I?

This bill makes it so you can keep your license regardless of health conditions. However, your primary care physician could deem your health to be a hazard to others in flight or in your land vehicle by ordering you to not fly (or drive) and putting this in your medical records. If you were to fly and have an accident, those notes in your file could cost you your license plus any other penalty a judge in a court of law deems appropriate for your violation of medical restrictions. It would not be any different than someone who continues to have epileptic seizures being told by their physician to not drive until they are deemed safe to drive by that doctor. If this person, while driving, has a seizure and causes an accident, he or she could face stiff fines, jail time,and permanent suspension of driver's license. It can be the same for pilots.

What good physical fitness and health management does for you as a pilot/co-pilot:

  1. Good cardiovascular exercise makes high altitude flying easier, running in the event of an emergency easier, maintain alertness longer for long distance flights, and keeps your body weight down so you can carry more fuel and baggage (1 gallon = 6 lbs).
  2. Good general strength training makes towing your plane easier (you do your own towing, don't you?), lifting plane parts, putting cargo into your plane, and maintains good bone density.
  3. Moderate intensity aerobic exercise for 30 minutes for 3-5 days a week and basic weight training, maintains good heart health, staves off a host of diseases, and help you sleep better at night. If your health is good, you won't have to worry about your primary care physician putting on your medical chart that your health is hazardous to flying your plane.
  4. Avoiding the bacon, sausage, and huge pile of pancakes at fly-ins, but opting for fresh fruit, whole grain cereals, and low-fat milk/ milk alternative will help you better maintain your overall health and weight. You will have an easier time with weight and balance if someone lighter rides with you. This practice will help you regulate your own body temperature. Some of those cockpits get pretty hot!
  5. Flexibility exercises will help you step up into your plane easier without a step stool (Most pilots I've seen shouldn't need one). It will also help you wrangle around inside the cockpit when your work on your plane.
  6. Losing weight will help you take off easier and land smoother. Flying with someone else in the right seat will be more comfortable for both of you.

We want to help you make your health and fitness a priority. If you are a pilot, co-pilot, or aviation enthusiast, sign up now for our Guts 2 Gallons weight loss challenge! This challenge runs from September 15, 2016 to December 15, 2016.We would love to get a healthy weight loss competition among airport groups to cheer and challenge each other!

Many blessings to you!

Pictures from Unsplash. 1) by Rob Schreckheis, 2) by Blake Richard Vandoorn, 3) by Conrad Wojciechowski.

Resource: AOPA Magazine, "Medical Reform Becomes Law" https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2016/july/15/medical-reform-becomes-law

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