October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.



Entries in exercise (3)


Music for Health

I’ve been musing in my last couple of blogs about the healthy necessity for humans to stay in motion, and the deleterious effects of spending long periods seated.  (See my May 1 post.)  In my quest for more information I found a Scientific American article about dance, and how much humans like to play music and dance to it.

         During the evolution of our species, if we needed to stay in motion for our very survival, it makes sense that our brains would evolve to promote motion.  One way our brains promote life-sustaining activities is by making them pleasurable and making us want to repeat them.  This is why we love salty, fatty, and sweet foods.  Tens of thousands of years ago, such foods were exceedingly scarce, so we needed to love them and eat as much of them as we could on the rare occasions when they were available.

         Our brains make things pleasurable and worth repeating by sending out dopamine, a neurotransmitter behind lots of learning and, alas, addiction.

         So here’s a wonderful clue to some of the greatest artistic accomplishments of our species.  Perhaps rhythm, music, and dance arose out of repeated spurts of dopamine, urging our bodies and minds to keep us in motion.  Then, as musical skills developed, perhaps musical activities became pleasurable in their own right.  Perhaps we just wanted to engage in them because we enjoyed them so much.

         To steal a line from Shakespeare: “If music be the food of love, play on!”


Mystery: Why Do We Need to Move?

In my last post, I spoke of how important it is for our health that we move about frequently during the day.  Why might this be so? 

         No one has an exact answer, but according to what Gretchen Reynolds found out, we quickly lose muscle tone and muscle mass if we don’t.  And I imagine that since we evolved to support ourselves by hunting and gathering, we must have needed to stay in excellent physical shape for these life-supporting activities. 

         Even unborn and newborn human babies stay in constant motion when they’re awake.  They weave and arch their torsos, wave their arms and legs, clench and unclench their fists and feet, and rotate their heads and even their eyes.  This way their muscles grow and stay strong.  Then their increased muscle tone prepares them for self-starting practice in hand-eye coordination, for pushing up, crawling, and walking.

         All this muscle building and toning makes them ready for a life in which constant motion will be necessary for survival. 

         Our bodies evolved for a very different life from the current one.  Our new ways of supporting ourselves, via sit-down jobs and sit-down job searches, are foreign to our health.


Built to Move

Last Sunday’s New York Times carried Gretchen Reynolds' summary of new research showing we stay healthier and burn significantly more calories, when we move around all day.  (In fact, I’ve begun marching in place when I’m riding in an elevator, but only if I'm alone.)

         Curiously, Reynolds reports that regular exercisers remain more sedentary throughout the day, after exercising, than non-exercisers.  I can’t help wondering why this latter finding should be true.

         I am a regular exerciser.  Weekday mornings I rise around 5:00, brush my teeth, make my bed, limber up, and climb many flights of stairs inside my apartment building.  Then I head outside to walk briskly anywhere from 3 to 4 miles.  I'm fortunate to be able to walk along a bike path that threads the generous park hugging Chicago’s Lake Michigan shore.  The limbering, climbing and walking take about an hour and fifteen minutes, and I return home feeling energetic and alive.

         Part of the energy must come from moving aerobically.  But part of the energy is spiritual.  Outside among the trees and shrubs and grass, under the dark or dawning sky, my muse visits me.  I am enlivened with ideas for what to write or what to add to what I’m writing.  The ideas seem to come from a Higher Power, along with spring’s blossoms, mating ducks, newly arrived robins, and Frisbee chasing dogs.  My walk makes me available to inspiration from the cosmos.

         Yet, I’ll stay healthy longer, stay available to inspiration longer, if I get up from my desk, interrupting my writing over and over, to move around.  What a strange contradiction!