Is it worth still staying physically fit?

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kriel
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Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby kriel » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:26 am UTC

I enjoy the idea of utility. Simple things make you much more useful, and basic skills form a portable skillset that makes you useful.

Things like communication, rationality, and empathy are extremely basic and extremely portable mental skills.

This can apply to objects, as well. A multi-headed screwdriver and a blade/knife of some kind are very portable and utilitarian tools.

But we have an abundance of physical tools. From simple machines like levers and pulleys to electromechanical works of art like cars.

I used to enjoy the idea of keeping a fit body. After all, it's your most accessible tool, and not easily replaceable. However, with such an abundance of other tools that can do much better than the human body, should we really expend the effort to keep our bodies as useful as possible? Is there such a thing as 'good enough' from a physical fitness standpoint?

Do we really still need to work out and keep our bodies in peak physical shape still, with tools like cars and construction equipment and forklifts that can do it for us, regardless of our physical capacity?

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby kriel » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:26 am UTC

Briareos wrote:
kriel wrote:Do we really still need to work out and keep our bodies in peak physical shape still, with tools like cars and construction equipment and forklifts that can do it for us, regardless of our physical capacity?
This reminds me of a thread (it was in N&A, I believe) discussing whether penmanship even ought to be taught in school any more. I was on the side of continuing to teach handwriting, and here I find myself again on the side of continuing to maintain our bodies even though they're not always the best tool for a job.

It depends on what you mean by "peak physical shape." Certainly we don't all have to be athletes. At the other end of the spectrum, I think we'd all agree that just because we have tools to make our lives easier does not mean that we should let our bodies go to pot. Keeping in shape is good for you as an end in itself, rather than as a means to a particular utilitarian end.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Snowflake » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:51 am UTC

Is it worth being healthy?
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Briareos » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:55 am UTC

Snowflake wrote:Is it worth being healthy?
That's how I feel.

But why bother being healthy when there are medicines? And science?
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Azrael » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:01 am UTC

Because, rather obviously, medicine and science can't cure all of your ills.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby kriel » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:10 am UTC

Well, okay. Obviously there's a wide spectrum here. I'm not saying we should all become 400lb beasts that are immobile without the aid of a wheelchair.

However, there's a wide range between 'quite capable of moving around and doing general light work' and 'being well above-average in fitness.'

Think about your average office worker vs. your average military person. (I'm having trouble setting points of reference to use, if anyone wants to help set some, feel free)

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Briareos » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:16 am UTC

kriel wrote:Well, okay. Obviously there's a wide spectrum here. I'm not saying we should all become 400lb beasts that are immobile without the aid of a wheelchair.
Ah, the "WALL-E" scenario.

kriel wrote:Think about your average office worker vs. your average military person. (I'm having trouble setting points of reference to use, if anyone wants to help set some, feel free)
Already the average person is closer to office worker than military. (Sorry, I don't have a citation for that.) And society hasn't collapsed yet. We seem to perfectly capable of survival by generally de-emphasizing fitness except among those for whom it is a necessary skill. On the one hand, then, I'd like to conclude there's no reason to be in peak physical condition for most people. But then I start to think about worst-case scenarios.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby dedalus » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:19 am UTC

You've got to define physically fit though; there's a big difference between being in the army and being able to run a kilometer or so.

The thing is that many of the factors of premature death and lifestyle illnesses are caused by this lack of fitness, and often it's very easy to have a reasonable degree of fitness and prevent this without having to religiously diet and jog daily. The number I always heard was 1/2 an hour per day of exercise, but personally I'd say that depending on what you do all day this could be turned into an average rather then a daily figure (personally I go to uni and walk a lot between classes; unsure about how much this contributes to exercise to be honest), and this prevents you from all the obesity-induced causes of death. Someone being fit won't make them a buff athlete, I'd definitely class myself as fit, though I've definitely got a pound or two of flab on me.

Also, on top of this, not doing exercise actually makes you more lethargic and less productive. Hence why one of the main things doctors tell people with sleep problems is 'get regular exercise'. Something I found, and indeed one of the main reasons I keep fit, is that when I'm unfit I feel bad, and become unable to do anything except sleep and eat. If I ride to uni I'll feel better for it during the day, though I don't particularly find the ride itself very fun :P
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Mokele » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:43 am UTC

Even from a non-health POV, the human body is an incredibly versatile, powerful tool. Our muscles are better than any other actuator of their size, and no other actuator has their versatility of sizes or functions.

Consider traversing extremely rough, uneven terrain - no machine can do this as easily as a human with our level of manuverability, versatility, or adaptability (we can climb, swim, run, jump, hide, etc. without any equipment changeover). And certainly not on a mere 8.3 MJ of energy per day.

Remember, your body is the one tool you can't lose (because if you do, well, you're not going to be using any tool of any sort ever again), and represents and incredible amount of versatility, much of which either cannot be replicated mechanically or can only be replicated via huge, cumbersome, one-task machines.

And lest anyone be tempted to quibble over details, remember that a capuchin monkey 1/100th our size can *also* do all of this (except swim), and I doubt you'll find a 2 lb machine with that sort of versatility or capabilities.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Chicostick » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:10 am UTC

Yes. Being physically fit has more benefits than simply being able to "do stuff."

For one you are healthier, and are better able to adapt to bad situations. Say the zombie apocalypse happens, do you want to be the less fit guy they can catch? (only joking of course)

But really being more physically fit just improves the quality of your life, or at least it has in my case. A few months ago I was pretty lazy, ate to many sweets, and was overweight. Since I started working out, I've dropped about 20 pounds and gained a lot of strength, and just overall feel better. Plus you get a great natural high after working out, I've never ended a work out on a negative note.

Being unfit is perfectly fine for most people, including me, I don't have any pressing need to run a mile to hunt food or something. But being fit just makes all those simple sedentary tasks that much easier. Have to shovel your driveway? Well if you've done your cardio and strength training, should take you half the time and you won't be sore!

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby ClockworkDream13 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:42 am UTC

Lets re-frame this question a little bit for some perspective. Lets instead ask "Is it worth it to stay mentally fit?".

By mental fitness I mean questioning things, learning new material, better understanding already known material, and so on and so forth. After all, we have machines like computers and calculators who can do all sorts of things, and why pursue gaining as much intelligence if there are people who are smarter than you, who you will never be as smart as.

Obviously since you're on this board you affirm the question "Is it worth it to stay mentally fit" for whatever reason, and I would say most if not all of those reasons can be applied staying physically fit.

We may not always have machines and people that are smarter/stronger than us, so we must rely on ourselves. You can't simply buy a new body like you can a tool, you need to keep it well maintained if you ever have any plans of using it. Also if you are like myself then you may simply see self-sufficiency as something with inherent value.

The strive to be smarter/stronger may also be a factor. I doubt there is a point that is "good enough" Instead of seeing a point as a end all goal, one should rather focus on improving themselves, for example instead of getting to a 6 minute mile and then trying to stay at that, one should try to improve from where they are at, at all times.

There's also always the factor of attracting a mate, put simply the better shape you are in, generally the more attractive you will look.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby H.63090 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:00 pm UTC

I think the answer to this question is different for people in different situations, but on the whole i would say staying physically fit is equally important to keeping mentally fit. Society views good health as a positive attribute, and if you want to be an effective human, staying in the best physical shape you can without compromising other important factors of ones life seems like a win-win scenario.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Ocean » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:01 pm UTC

Staying physically fit, as previously stated, of course is worth it simply because you need a certain degree of fitness to stay healthy. Whether or not you want to go above that certain degree varies from person to person.

Of course, it's also a matter of what fun you derive of exercise. A lot of people I know practice sports, and apart from the few that are forced by parents, most of it do it for fun: simply because they enjoy practicing sports.

From what I've gathered, it also seems that practicing sports on a regular basis appears to have impact on your mental health too; in some sports you get social interaction, which is often good, but even when soloing it has benefits, like clearing your mind.

So, why wouldn't you want to stay physically fit?

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:04 pm UTC

Physically fit people consume less resources then non-fit individuals. If you care about the environment, get in good enough shape to reduce your footprint.

I bike. I eat locally grown foods. My medical bills are minimal (obviously many medical issues don't apply to this perspective).

The OP frames this question as a choice, i.e., why should I be physically fit when I don't use my body in ways that require it to be so. The choice between being fit and being unfit then, as I see it, is a decision of laziness. If you believe that governments/science/your income should provide the basic necessities of living because you are too lazy to get your ass out of the hover chair, then I call you rather pathetic.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Aetius » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

The human body is "just" a tool on the day you can live without it.

I've always been partial to the line from "Sunscreen" (originally a graduation speech): "Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it's the greatest instrument you'll ever own." Part of that I believe is maintaining it to the best of your ability.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby negatron » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:01 pm UTC

dedalus wrote:The thing is that many of the factors of premature death and lifestyle illnesses are caused by this lack of fitness

No, they're not. It's a myth that fitness is preventative of heart disease. For every study that suggest this is true, you can find one that says the opposite. More recent research appears to suggest that those with a high body mass index have slower progression of arterial thickening because the fat can retain inflammatory molecules. There is plenty to suggest that maintaining high muscle mass also increases metabolic stress. There is no meaningful correlation with cancer either.

Now what about an increased risk of fracture during exercise? If you snap a bone, regardless of age, this increases risk of developing autoimmune arthritis. Particularly at an older age, breaking a bone is dramatically worse for your life expectancy than any potential benefits of your prior exercise. Let's not get into head injury and all the other things you can easily avoid by sitting on your ass.

I'm not convinced either way, just presenting the other side of the story, which is commonly lost in the culture of fitness ideologies.

Izawwlgood wrote:Physically fit people consume less resources then non-fit individuals.

That is so idiotic the only fitting response is this one.

Izawwlgood wrote:If you believe that governments/science/your income should provide the basic necessities of living because you are too lazy to get your ass out of the hover chair, then I call you rather pathetic.

I'm confused. Unfit people require government assistance?
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:29 pm UTC

negatron wrote:That is so idiotic the only fitting response is this one.

So, the link between obesity and having a higher carbon footprint is just a bunch of hullabaloo? So, people who are overweight, and have higher medical demands, drive more, and eat more, aren't relatively more of a drain then people who are not overweight, have lower relative medical demands, drive less, and eat less?
Read a bit more, then come up with a counterpoint rather then being offended and dismissive.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Owijad » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:06 pm UTC

Simply put, it is a lot less work to stay in shape than it is to navigate the world when you are out of shape, in the same way it is much less work to get good grades than it is to drop out. The question isn't laziness, it's shortsightedness.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Azrael » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:44 pm UTC

Please remember that this is Serious Business, not a My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad contest.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby BlackSails » Wed Nov 11, 2009 7:34 pm UTC

Not everyone wants to be a brain in a jar.

1) Being fat and lazy is bad for you. It will shorten your life

2) There is plenty of research that being fat and lazy makes you dumber as well (that is, exercise improves cogntive function)

3) There are many enjoyable things you can do with a body that is in shape. Sex, sports, etc.

4) When the zombies come, running away will be very useful.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Okita » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:38 pm UTC

There are other reasons to be physically fit too.

Having increased muscle tone/ exercising also supposedly decreases your likelihood of sarcopenia (ie. muscle degeneration due to age).

Not to mention that being more physically fit makes you less prone to damage from injury. "What could I be injured doing if I'm avoiding exercise-intensive things?" Well, strengthening your abs/ core will help protect your spine in a case of say... a car accident. I'm not saying if you exercise enough, you'll survive car crashes but being in better physical shape definitely contributes to the amount of damage that could be exerted on your body. Also I know that ab/core exercises help to reduce back pain due to better spinal support.

There are also links between physical fitness and one's immune system.

Yes, we have antibiotics and robots that could supplement strength but then again we also have wheel chairs and I don't really know many old people who are like "man, I'm so glad I have to be stuck in this wheel chair because I'm too weak to move on my own".
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby iop » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:17 pm UTC

kriel wrote:Is there such a thing as 'good enough' from a physical fitness standpoint?


I think so. I doubt that it is useful to be able to run a marathon in under 3h unless that is your main hobby, or your source of income.

However, technology has not eliminated all situations that would require running. You may want to be able to catch your connecting flight, for example, so it is useful to be able to run for half a mile.

Maintaining this level of fitness does not carry the risk of repetitive stress injury, so there is a serious upside, and not so much of a downside.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby BlackSails » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:34 pm UTC

iop wrote:However, technology has not eliminated all situations that would require running. You may want to be able to catch your connecting flight, for example, so it is useful to be able to run for half a mile.


Or not miss a class. Or flee from a mugger. Or dash across the street so you dont have to wait for the light. Or climb a tree to get your cat down. Or carry heavy bags from the grocery store. Etc.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby iop » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:39 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:
iop wrote:However, technology has not eliminated all situations that would require running. You may want to be able to catch your connecting flight, for example, so it is useful to be able to run for half a mile.


Or not miss a class. Or flee from a mugger. Or dash across the street so you dont have to wait for the light. Or climb a tree to get your cat down. Or carry heavy bags from the grocery store. Etc.


Exactly. By the way, I always thought that instead of running in circles around the track, it would be much more useful to try running to the nearby train station with our backpacks and everything. Those who catch the train can go home, the others run back to school to get some more training.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Fledermen64 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 5:10 pm UTC

In my opinion yes it is. You defiantly don't need to be athletes level fitness, but everyone should work out more and eat better. Obesity is a huge heath issue in America and it could be mostly alleviated if people just went out for 30 min walks and watched the amount of calories going into their body's.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Felstaff » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:36 pm UTC

Technology hasn't eliminated the need for your heart to stay healthy enough to live the length of life that is expected of you in whichever social/economic/ethnic strata you live in. And running may have ceased to be a useful utility to perform in modern-day Western life, where all travel can be automated, but running is needed because it helps your heart, and ultimately that is the organ you must protect in order to live your life the length that it is useful enough to a.) contribute to society, b.) not be a burden on the health system of your respective nation and c.) enjoy.

I can happily say that, as I am a highly punctual person (for argument's sake--I'm really not) I have negated the need for running in order to accomplish anything. However I do run regularly because I'm looking out for my heart, which is at the cause of most deaths (as Azrael so helpfully pointed out). Running is an exceptional way to keep your heart healthy because it is the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient form of exercise. Whereas, say, swimming may be more efficient than running, it is by no means as accessible, as you need a body of water that is clean enough to swim in, which can be expensive, or you may have to travel far to reach one. Also you don't need any specialised gear for running (although correct footwear helps in the long run*)

There is a standard of fitness that is 'good enough', by the way-- this equates to 30 minutes of "brisk" exercise per day, every day, for the rest of your life. (or perhaps 5 times a week, at a slightly elevated level). This is the optimum amount of exercise needed for any person of average height, build, and vice-free (no smoking, heavy drinking, or crack pipin') to maintain a healthy heart (+ other organs). 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, is 'good enough' physical fitness for 90% of the population. It is also enough to reduce fat from a 3000 calorie-a-day man (2000 for women) and rejuvenate muscle, which is definitely still needed in any given society (as far as I know, every society on earth requires you to move a wardrobe at least once in your life. Even the Nonwardrobian people of Kotakotu, Namibia)

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby cooldude76 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:24 am UTC

Is there not an obvious reason to stay fit? Because it is simply, if not extremely, easy. And its good for you. So if its not hard, and its good for you, why not do it? I'm not saying you have to do any very large amounts of exercise everyday, I'm just saying that if, for instance, somebody were to attack you, could you actually run away and/or fight back? I know most of you don't have to deal with any extreme fiscal* challenges in your British University Life (an obvious generalization, not to offend), but for people who don't live in college towns/on very small areas of land ('campuses')/own a car, its rather important to stay at least fit enough to walk a few miles, ride a bike a few more, or even just be able to carry a light (maximum 30 lb.) load any reasonable distance (at least a mile). And that's just in everyday life, without all the other shit that happens when your living said everyday life (injuries, emergencies (natural (disaster) or otherwise), etc.).


IMHO it's a tad extreme to not even consider the need to be fit. Most of us need to be fit just to live, and the fact that people actually think that they wouldn't need to be is... baffling.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Lucrece » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:48 am UTC

I think it hasn't been emphasized enough how influential being physically fit affects your mating (and this includes romantic interaction, not necessarily procreation) prospects.

Being physically fit is also often associated with being prettier. Prettier people have been shown to be more successful professionally and romantically.

Successful mating and social interaction-- in which being physically fit, ergo attractive, is important-- produces higher levels of satisfaction in individuals.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby joshg8 » Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:40 pm UTC

Personally, every male on both sides of my family for at least three generations has died of heart disease. Both my grandfathers were dead by the time I was born. My own father is obese (5'8", 250+ lbs) and because of it has developed metabolic syndrome and along with it type-2 diabetes, a heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and two years ago he underwent a double bypass surgery. At this time, he survives on many medications and was told by his physician that he probably wouldn't be alive were it not for the replaced arteries.

In America, obesity is one of the leading causes of avoidable death in after smoking. Staying fit has become very important to me and is quite frankly the longest-term goal that I have. I'm not at the gym everyday, but I have a dog that I take on walks and the occasional run and I enjoy playing racquetball with my older brother a few times a week.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:41 pm UTC

joshg8 wrote:I'm not at the gym everyday, but I have a dog that I take on walks and the occasional run and I enjoy playing racquetball with my older brother a few times a week.


I think people incorrectly conflate 'fit' with 'beach ripped'. What you just described is a perfectly reasonable definition of the word, and I commend you for recognizing your genetic bad luck and aiming to remedy it.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Vaniver » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:26 pm UTC

Do whatever silly things you need to do to find a quality mating partner, if it's worth the cost. Generally, staying physically fit is important for that.

Otherwise- any times when fitness ability is unavoidable (say, going down WTC stairs during 9/11) are generally so marginal that they don't need to be considered (seriously, 2 people bring up a zombie scenario?). Health and happiness choices are yours to make- if you think being fit will keep you alive longer (and it probably will, by some at least), and that's important to you, spend resources on it- but if you'd rather spend those resources elsewhere, do that.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby duckshirt » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:25 am UTC

It's not that being fit will help you live longer, but healthy people generally feel better and are more productive. When I was out of shape, I was tired much more frequently, and whenever I stop running for a while or eat too much junk, I feel horrible and don't want to go back. That alone makes being physically fit worth it, IMO.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Skythe » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:51 am UTC

Two Several words:

FOR FUCK SAKE, SHUT UP ABOUT THE ZOMBIE INVASION IN SB

Unless you just want to prolong your life and not feel depressed. Studies have shown that people who stay physically active helps treat depression, lowers stress, and also lowers your chance of getting cardiovascular diseases.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Keybounce » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:00 pm UTC

Alright, I won't mention the unmentionable.

Is it worth staying in shape? Your body will, as a general rule, peak around age 25. After that, parts will get worse with time.

* You'll have crosslinks across different muscle layers, and skin to muscles. Except, oddly, for one person I worked on who said that he did yoga every day. There was no adhesion between the skin on the back and any lower layer. Half of what I do to massage the back was skipped.

* Your arterial walls will get harder, more solid, and flex less; this causes hart issues. In general, there's a good correlation between hardness of arteries and "worsening" / "aging" of the corresponding tissue. Except, oddly, for people who exercise and watch what they eat, who keep the arteries flexible; they tend to have good health.

* Your muscles will take damage. Minor tears, etc. As your body puts down "repair" tissue -- scar fibers -- they wind up in all directions, and don't stretch properly; this puts a bigger stress on the rest of the muscle and the corresponding tendons. Except if you keep your muscles and tendons in good shape -- people who stretch their tendons can adjust for the shorter muscles; people who treat torn muscles can prevent the worst of the scarring; people who treat damaged muscles early get the muscles to repair the minor tears with new muscle fibers rather than scar fibers.

* As far as I know, there's no way to do massage if my body gives out. Our massage teacher stressed the importance of form and protecting our body while giving massage. Can't do that if I'm not in shape.
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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Outchanter » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:35 am UTC

New York Times: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious

The stress-reducing changes wrought by exercise on the brain don’t happen overnight, however, as virtually every researcher agrees. In the University of Colorado experiments, for instance, rats that ran for only three weeks did not show much reduction in stress-induced anxiety, but those that ran for at least six weeks did.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Woegjiub » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:47 am UTC

Rather than asking if it's worth it to stay fit, one should be asking the opposite - how can people stand to be unfit?


Being ripped is incredibly easy, all it takes is a decent, well-balanced diet and lifting weights 3 times a week.
(beginners, see:www.stronglifts.com, www.startingstrength.net and www.liamrosen.com/fitness.html)

After a while, exercise becomes an addiction, you have to move: you crave the rush gained from it, whether it be breaking a personal best in your squats, managing your first unassisted backtuck, handstand walking for extended periods, clearing a large precision, or simply running, jumping, swinging and bouncing around like a monkey on steroids.
It's the most amazing feeling there is (yes, including eating, videogames, sex, alcohol, nicotine, THC, etc...)
The knowledge that you are capable of so much, that you have all of this energy and power within you... it's simply indescribable.
When I see people eating themselves to death, I scream inside "how can they do that to themselves?" "do they have no respect for their bodies?".

It makes one feel enlightened, that one knows a secret which most people long after, but do not realise is quite easily within their grasp.
It's as if I'm one of a select few capable of vision, in a world of the blind.

With the boost in self-confidence, the amazing rush of power and adrenaline, the simple ecstasy that can be obtained from simply attempting to best oneself, and continually build on one's physical wellbeing.... it seems insane that anyone could not want that.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Brussky » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:24 am UTC

I think we can safely say that the original intent of this question was not 'I'm not in shape, is it worth it for me to get in shape'. If I interpret the OP correctly, the question at hand was more related to 'is there any point in maintaining a level of physical fitness which is above the point where I no longer gain large scale boosts to my personal health'.

Now, there have been a lot of arguments towards this point made in the thread already, many of which focus on the health related aspects of staying in shape. As far as I can tell from a deep background in medicine, and a fairly detailed pubmed search, no studies have shown that people who are exceptionally fit (semi or professional level athlete for example) have better overall indicators of health than people who are in moderately good shape but do not approach the zenith of unaided human performance. This is in part because few such studies have been done (funding tends to go towards finding out how bad being obese is as opposed to whether fit people are doing a bit worse than really fit people). Base line studies of general body system mechanics tend to present a platuea approach, where your health benefits from being able to run a 3minute mile are not any better than those gained from 'only' being able to run a 4minute mile.

Keeping this in mind, however, there are certain advantages from being fit above this minimum level which relate to preformance increase. Muscle tissue is a faster (though less efficient) storage mechanism for energy from food; the more muscle mass you have relative to adipose tissue, the faster you will be able to convert muscular glycogen into free plasma glucose, allowing faster inactive -> active transitions. In addition, while you might not always be using your rippling pecs or washboard abs, you /are/ always going to be using your heart muscle, and making it more efficient (you can consider this to be a fairly linear, long term process, it is very unlikely that you'll ever reach maximum heart muscle efficiency) which helps you maintain energy levels for longer and under more stressful conditions, allowing you to operate more of that mechanical advantage machinery which does stuff for you. Also, glucose metabolism becomes more efficient after continued, prolonged periods of stress, increasing the total time you can stay active above a certain functional level.

Now whether or not these gains are worthwhile to you to invest a ton of time into exercising so that you get decreasingly less return on investment relative to preformance increase is up to you. But while you're weighing issues, keep in mind that if the zombie apocalypse ever comes, you'll either be extremely well equipped to handle them, or be one of the most physically powerful zombies on the planet, elevating you to instant chief level in whatever organizational method the zombies will favor.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Vaniver » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:47 pm UTC

Woegjiub wrote:Being ripped is incredibly easy, all it takes is a decent, well-balanced diet and lifting weights 3 times a week.
Pretty much everything is easy if you have good habits. Good habits are notoriously hard to acquire, however.
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Azrael » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:52 pm UTC

Woegjiub wrote:Being ripped is incredibly easy ...
Says the 19 year old. I don't think I need to fully expound on the incredibly long list of factors that make things significantly more difficult when you're not a 19 year old student. Needless to say, *something* should have made you think twice about that statement -- things that are *actually* incredibly easy tend to get done more frequently rather than less.

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Re: Is it worth still staying physically fit?

Postby Philwelch » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:09 pm UTC

I had a lot more I've been meaning to say for a long time, but it comes down to this:

If "staying physically fit" means enough exercise and the right amount of the right food, then it's absolutely necessary. Nearly all of the health woes suffered in industrialized countries are a product of lifestyles that go against physical fitness, including mental health (exercise being an excellent agent to improve mental function and alleviate depression). It's short-sighted to say it's obsolete to stay physically fit on the one hand, while on the other hand we grapple with the rising costs of health care and the growing popularity of anti-depressants. These aren't disconnected issues.

And I say this openly as the hypocritical fatass I know and recognize that I am.
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Leftism: If you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

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