Sponsored content provided by The Jacquelyn Project.

Marshall Dahneke is running the 2023 Boston Marathon to raise funds for massage therapy community service in honor of his daughter, Jacquelyn, who passed away from breast cancer in early 2022.

His column details his personal health journey, inspires massage therapists to live a healthier life, and promotes The Jacquelyn Project to raise funds for massage-related breast-cancer community service projects. Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link. 

The only path for me to improve my running endurance is to increase my running time, complemented by strength building. To complete the Boston Marathon, I need to put in the miles that build my capability. The same is true for you. To succeed over time as a massage therapist, you need to train to keep your body strong, healthy and injury-free.

Regular exercise is critical to good health. Why? Our bodies are designed to move. Immobility is bad for us to the point that when we stop moving, we start dying. Roughly 3.2 million people die each year due to physical inactivity.

Moving our bodies improves our circulation, carrying oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the brain. This enhances our overall energy while even boosting our mood.

Moving regulates digestion and elimination. Moving enables lymphatic system flow, aiding our body to detoxify, regenerate tissue and support a healthy immune system. Moving maintains our equilibrium, retaining the functional ability to send proper signals to muscles that keep us safely upright.

Our bodies function best while moving every day. Exercise is simply movement that is planned for the purpose of conditioning any part of the body, while also helping us to work up a sweat, breathe heavier and increase our heart rate.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. However, just over half of Americans meet this guideline.If we don’t make time for our wellness, we may eventually be forced to make time for our illness.

If your clients are like so many people who are busy with work, family and other obligations, while holding a sedentary job, they probably haven’t yet adopted regular exercise habits. Once they do, the payoff is enormous: starting to feel better almost immediately, avoiding certain diseases long term, and likely even living longer.

Do you want a boost to creativity and the ability to think clearly? Would you like to have greater energy? Does increasing the ability to focus and maintain attention for longer sound good to you? Would you like greater protection against chronic lifestyle diseases? Then prioritize exercise as part of your daily regimen.

Increase Your Capability with These 7 Tips

Congratulations if you and your clients are already exercising regularly. If not, it’s a great time to start. (This article is not a substitution for medical advice. Discuss your exercise plan with your doctor.) You can start slowly, finding ways to add more routine physical activity into your life, picking and choosing from the following set of starter tips:

1. Integrate physical activities into your current routine. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Walk rather than drive to lunch. Hike down the hall to speak with a coworker rather than sending an email. For that next phone meeting—speak while taking a walk. Cooped up for a non-stop office day? Get up and walk around at least hourly. Cycle to work. Park further from your destination … we have so many options.

2. Set functional goals that are meaningful to you. When I first began regular exercise, I focused on cardio and stair climbing, two areas of activity closely aligned with my favorite activities … travel and sightseeing. Align your daily exercise with something you value and remind yourself as often as needed of this connection. While your goals may evolve as you become fitter, be clear on your motivation to build this regular habit.

3. Embrace enablers to overcome barriers. Nagging injuries could keep me sidelined from marathon training, but I have identified a variety of aids that allow me to keep moving forward. Like regular massage therapy! Other great enablers for me include:

  • Not surprisingly, massage is at the top of my list! Everything else is important but adjunctive to massage therapy. My recent experience at Massage Heights was terrific – their retreat exuded a culture of care and it was clear the therapists I interacted with loved working there. My massage was on point, keeping me fine-tuned for ongoing training as I ramp up for my third marathon.

HawkGrips instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM): Since extreme workouts naturally create micro tears in muscles, I use my HawkGrips tool to release scar tissue, adhesions and fascial restrictions, especially around my tendinitis. This speeds up and ensures proper recovery and healing–so I’m ready to tackle the next workout.

• SpiderTech pre-cut kinesiology tape: For me SpiderTech tape is so easy to apply, provides support for injured muscles and tendons, reduces inflammation, accelerates my recovery, and even reduces my pain level.

Dr. Hoy’s Natural Pain Relief: Full disclosure, yes, I was the CEO of Biofreeze and yes, now Dr. Hoy’s is my go-to topical pain reliever. Not because they sponsored Team Jacq. I invited Dr. Hoy’s to sponsor The Jacquelyn Project because their brand is so natural and so ‘clean’ which for me translates into safe (just compare the labels!). Dr. Hoy’s provides highly effective pain relief and inflammation reduction. I love pairing it with their Arnica Boost through layering for additional benefit.

Meteor by MyoStorm: This vibration therapy device with heat accelerates my pain-relief and muscular recovery. Given its ball shape, I find MyoStorm to be especially effective on my feet and legs, exactly what I so need after a run to relax and lengthen the muscles, reduce pain and speed up recovery for my next outing. I’m impressed by their foundational research, but even more impressed with how it feels.

These interventions, combined with several others, allow me to actively progress in my training rather than sitting on the sidelines feeling sorry for myself.

4. Track your progress. Use a fitness app to help you set goals, see and celebrate measurable progress, and stay motivated for ongoing improvement.

5. External accountability is key. Recruit a support team: Share your goals and activity with others, requesting that they ask you about it. Share your progress (via apps, etc.) with others. Having a workout partner will make exercise more fun and harder to blow off. Join a group or class involving activities like dance, hiking, yoga, or a volleyball team.

6. Make exercise more fun. Listening to music or watching TV while you exercise can make the time pass faster. Mix things up a little bit with various activities. If you stick with just one type of exercise or one running route, you might get bored. Try doing a combination of activities that activate the full body over time and offer variety. And remember, involving others often adds to enjoyment.

7. Find activities that you can do even when the weather is bad. You can walk in a mall, climb stairs at the office or home, or work out in a fitness center—even if the elements discourage you from heading outside.

Regular exercise is liberating, enabling capabilities and endurance that create exciting new options for your future. You will definitely feel better as you develop a more active lifestyle. Figure out what works best for you and enjoy the journey.

[Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link.]

About the Author

Marshall Dahneke is the grateful husband of Michelle and proud father of six wonderful children, a lover of massage, former CEO of Performance Health, 2016 Massage Hall of Fame inductee, and aspiring endurance athlete finding his way to a better way of life.