Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Brief, Recent History of Exercise (Thinking)

The great error in thinking about exercise and fitness, is this very notion that the primary objective is “burning” off as many calories as possible -- which means being as inefficient in one’s movements as possible, even directing each muscle in the body, to cancel out each other movement (effort) in the body -- as though that was a wise use of human resources, and doing anything -- ever.

Yet about 45 years ago, that was actually a faddish idea that was the current rage in body and strength-building, called “isometric” exercise, in which one produced great effort -- but no movement, because one merely worked (contracted) each muscle against every other -- resulting in no work, or ability to measure work in the traditional manner it was measured -- in moving a mass (weight) a distance in a certain time interval -- although there was undeniably great exertion and discomfort experienced by such training.

At the height of its popularity, it was quickly abandoned, because it produced severe health problems -- the most notable of which was distressful levels of blood pressure readings, while many passed out, after turning disturbing colors of red, white and blue from holding a position, or holding their breath, etc. This was especially dangerous for people who had weaknesses in any part of their body -- which is virtually everybody in their own unique way.

That was one of the rationales for promoting exercises that were “aerobic” -- which would not produce extraordinary demands, above the normal level of activities. In fact, the measure of “aerobic exercise” originally, and not as it has been corrupted over the years, is that it could be conducted at such a low increased level of exertion, that it could be prolonged safely indefinitely -- as contrasted to “anaerobic” activities such as sprinting, that can only be sustained for a few seconds of extraordinary and intense effort (explosiveness).

Over the years, and with literally thousands of corruptions and plagiarisms of the original fairly valid observation for reducing the risk factors in exercise, it has come to mean the opposite of what was intended -- as a safe maximum, rather than an absolute minimum requirement.

And this reversal, is now primarily why those who need, and should exercise the most, completely rule it out -- as something they won’t do, because what is advocated by “conventional expertise,” is too stressful, and unproductive, so the wisdom of their entire being tells them not to.

So while the concept of “aerobics” ensured safety, it did not necessarily understand what made exercise most productive. The person most responsible for that dedication, was Arthur Jones, the inventor of the Nautilus machines and training principles, who originally touted his methods as “foolproof,” but when they failed to achieve the results he promised, reversed himself and then insisted, he or his surrogates had to personally supervise each and every repetition or he could not guarantee those results -- which then led to the “personal training” industry.

That was obviously a giant step backwards from being “foolproof.”


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