Monday, June 29, 2009

You Don't Need to Raise Your Heartrate to Get an Exercise Effect

In the '60s, a book on exercise sold over a million copies, and so it became the most plagiarized book of its time and subject -- because since it was written by a doctor, it was assumed that everything stated, implied and conjectured was the definitive truth -- rather than it was just another imperfect attempt to understand, popularize and commercialize virtually the oldest understanding of human activity, and this notion of improvement and even perfection, of human possibilities and potential.

The immediate previous popular guru on this subject was Abraham Maslow, who largely limited himself to the intellectual and consciousness-raising aspect of such development. Exercise was not a mainstream movement that it was to become starting with the '60s and proceeding through the '80s, which was the height of the fitness craze that started to dissipate in the '90s, and by the new millennium, most of the Boomers realized that such a strenuous demand on their heart, feet, back, and major joints, could not be sustained any longer without it clearly being the cause of most of one's obvious physical discomfort.

And so by their 50s, most people abandoned such strenuous and demanding activity -- except for the few diehards who insist like Orwell's workhorse in the Animal Farm, that all he needed to do was to work harder, and everything would turn out better -- when it was clear to everybody else and most readers, that that overwork was the cause of his breakdown and consumption of his life and vital energies.

But we still have people pushing such primitive notions -- that if something isn't working, obviously they need more force and brute power -- rather than first assuming, that there must be a higher intelligence at work, an evolutionary genius rather than random blind chance. Primitive minds think that death, disease and disaster just happen -- and when it does, a blind rage of power, is its appropriate response -- rather than the learned response of observing before reacting.

Fitness is not only the physical response -- but a total response to the challenge, which means taking in information from one's senses, and being able then to select the most appropriate response -- which is likely to be neither fight or flight, but something in between, something more subtle, unexpected and unique -- unless one is conditioned to no other. But that would not be the best response -- unless one was the best at that response and skill. Something more appropriate to the unique individual, would likely achieve a better result, and make the challenge, revolve around new axes of uncertainties.

Such improvisations, are also the expression of the greatest possibilities and potential of unknown talent and abilities. We no longer assume that we know what they are -- for each individual to conform to the pattern of our limited previous expectations -- in the virtual universe, in which a lot of things go on and manifest. So to reduce all human performance and well-being to one measure, would seem to be the height of folly in describing the condition of any individual as well as societies.

Those are not ideas that stand the test of time. Instead, we have to look for measures of qualities much more universal and timeless -- than simply the measure of how fast we can move a mass a certain distance. That is a very primitive measure of "work" but by no means the definitive explanation and standard of it.


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