By David Shapiro / DrShapiro@CompleteSpineSolutions.com

Dr. David Shapiro Atlanta Jewish TimesI remember riding my 10-speed down the street when I was a kid. It was fun to pedal fast and then coast. Using no effort with limited tire friction and allowing the momentum from my earlier effort to carry me forward, the feeling was exhilarating. If I was going downhill, it was even more fun.

I remember my rabbi giving a sermon about the Kohanim in the Temple making offerings to G-d. He taught that the place where the offerings were made was elevated off the ground. The way to ascend to that height was via a ramp. The obvious question: Why not steps?

There are several reasons given, but my favorite as offered by my rabbi was that it was likened to spirituality itself. On steps you can rest, take it easy, take a breather, get comfortable or chill. On a ramp, you are either moving up or down; standing in one place with no effort is not an option.

Similarly, if we are not growing spiritually, we are losing ground; there is no standing still.

The same is true for our health. We are either investing, improving, growing, getting stronger, or we are getting less healthy and weaker. There is no status quo when it comes to health. Consider these facts: We can lose up to half our aerobic capacity when we stop training in as little as two months; additionally, data suggest that our muscles start to atrophy in as little as 72 hours without working them.

As a doctor, part of my job is to function as a health coach. A coach inspires people to find the strength within themselves to make positive change. Just telling patients what they need to do — e.g., lose weight and get more exercise — will not usually lead to success. A coach needs to inspire, be a role model, help people set personal goals, and plan out the bite-size steps to achieve them. With no how-to, people will usually not be able to achieve the success they want.

No matter what our level of health or fitness, most of us can strive to do better. Research has demonstrated that elderly people who have lost their independence are able to regain independence when put on a regular exercise regimen. This shows that the body is forgiving but doesn’t do as well when it is taken for granted.

We should all take positive steps to start fresh and renew our commitment to personal health. Every day we get another chance: Sleep more, don’t skip meals, have a healthy breakfast, don’t drink your calories in the form of sodas and fruit juices, buy organic fruits and vegetables, move more, stand more rather than sit, drink clean water, engage a buddy to train with, learn more about the latest in health information. With all these opportunities to improve our health each and every day, may we all be inspired not to coast.

Coasting on a bike at high speed was fun as a kid. My cousin Douglas Shapiro was a two-time Tour de France and U.S. Olympic cyclist. He used to coast when he took his victory lap; all other times he was pedaling.

Dr. David Shapiro, certified at the highest level in chiropractic biophysics, is the founder and chief wellness officer of Complete Spine Solutions in Tucker.