Will Exercise Save Your Wits?

Comments at James Thompson:

* Everyone should exercise, whether it be strength training or cardio. If you don’t exercise, you better start. Grip strength tests are also very important and show racial differences. Blacks have weaker grip even when they have more muscle mass. It’s due to muscle fiber typing. After controlling for confounds blacks have a weaker grip than Whites. Whites also live longer as well. This study is very interesting.

If you don’t strength train or do cardio, you better start if you like living.

* Lifting free weights makes me feel better in my skin, makes me look more muscular, makes me more self-confident (probably a result of increased T-levels), makes me also more disciplined (it takes some discipline to do all those workouts day in and day out, and somehow it transfers to things like my work in the office), makes me feel more energetic, and also more attractive to the ladies (I’m quite sure they smile at me more when I’m in better shape, for whichever reason), also increases libido, and of course it could all be lost if an injury holds me back (since September, so I lost muscle mass, self-confidence, discipline, etc., and the ladies seem to smile less, too). Oh, things like back pain (which I had before I started, and now is slowly creeping back) can also go and come, depending on whether I exercise or not. I cannot imagine that it didn’t have these effects on others.

* …exercise probably improves sleep duration and quality. Control for sleep and not much may be left for exercise. That said, 20 minutes plus of aerobic pushes my blood glucose down for hours.

I like the buzz of testosterone. Functional Fitness routines mean that I can bend over, get up off the floor, twist and turn with ease in daily situations. So it is not all cognitive improvement and longevity thank the Lord.

* Cognitive functioning may or may not be helped by exercise (although I think the variable is not how much one exercises so much as how willing one is to spend extended hours without exercising – the more hours, the more miserable one feels) but there are three other systems that seem to degenerate quickly when we are overly slothful and lazy – the digestive system (our digestive system likes activity), the joint and muscle system (our joint and muscle system likes activity), and the perception system (inactivity headaches – we all know them from having napped too long on a beautiful summer afternoon – are what I am thinking of with respect to the non-exerciser’s problems with perception of thought), and I believe there are similar impacts with respect to our perceptions of sight, hearing, touch (or, otherwise put, our ability to block out our awareness of background pain, to look at this in the negative way), taste, and smell. Not to mention general levels of energy.

* Scientific American: “The results were striking: a 15-point IQ advantage translated into a 21% greater chance of survival. For example, a person with an IQ of 115 was 21% more likely to be alive at age 76 than a person with an IQ of 100 (the average for the general population).”

* A higher IQ translates into a lot of things :
Higher Income
Increased accessibility to medical care and nutrition at higher standards; this can mean reduced rates of infection, reduced rates of bad operations, etc – especially comparing private vs public treatment in some areas of the world; it can mean avoiding PCBs or laden-heavy saturated diets of globules of LDL, unsanitary water, etc – unlikeliness to taking labourous jobs, factory jobs, etc
Making better usage of information to avoid risks
Taking advantage of information to improve one’s conditions
Better time-discounting ratio payoffs for activities in the long-term
Reduced susceptibility to false claims and increased ability to navigate around obstacles or ”fads”
Increased opportunities to increase cardiovascular health
Increased opportunities to afford sunscreen and healthcare products
Decreased likeliness of conformity.. less willingness to take cigarettes, or do ‘dares’

While exercise might not increase cognitive ability directly, it certainly has pertinent effects such as increasing VO2 Max, blood-oxygenation levels, flow of blood to the brain, glucose reserves, the nature of triglycerides and many other multi-variate factors that likely diminish the chance of anatomical structural damage and hence acceleration of disintegration of the body throuh destructive behaviours like banging one’s head on the wall through dementia

If I recall, there was a patent somewhere long ago for predicting IQ from neuroanatomical structure and absolute fitness of the structural properties of the brain seems to enable one’s intellectual capacities.

* The general relationship between intelligence and longevity breaks down in late 70s, when chance effects begin to be more prominent.

* Exercise will preserve your wits. Unless you develop Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, have a stroke, have a long-term history of diabetes (exercise may help prevent the underlying diabetic process) or any of a number of brain diseases. Any study that looks at cognitive functioning over a period of less than ten years is useless. Any study that is retrospective rather than prospective and controlled, is similarly useless.

The blaring headlines ala, “MEDITATION PREVENTS ALZHEIMER’S” are criminal malpractice. Read the study. Twelve patients followed over six months. Six meditated and six didn’t. Those who meditated could remember more words on a list they memorized than those who didn’t. Means zip.

Cognitive slippage is a function of age. Severe cognitive slippage and dementia is a function of disease (including repeated head trauma). No exercise regimen is going to prevent Alzheimer’s, a disease that, with certain forms of testing, can be detected twenty or more years before it manifests with the first symptoms.

* There are a different themes to this amusing topic.

First, not far from the surface is American puritanism. Our friends from the US have a deep ambivalence to pleasure (supposedly the pursuit of it is their main purpose in life) and are much happier if it comes only as the result of hard work.

Hence, the idea of suffering on a treadmill is deeply appealing to them.

Second, Americans are competitive, in certain, socially acceptable areas, and enjoy the one-upmanship that comes from gym activity.

Third, there is capitalist motive at play – exercise is big business as of course was the lazy lifestyle that makes it necessary.

Fourth, as with all things American, is the bogus science peddled by interested parties.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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