Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Running can kill you part II

December 6, 2008

Here’s a good article on MSN regarding the subject of running marathons and dropping dead as a result thereof. Read the whole thing if you have an interest, and here are my thoughts on the subject.

  • In general, a lot of physical activity that is aerobically significant (did I just make up that phrase??) is better for increasing good cholestrol and strengthing your heart muscle so you better survive heart attacks, than not exercising. No surprise here.
  • People have studied this a lot. Exercise is not a miracle worker or anything.
  • You can still die while running, happens if not all time, but here and there. No surprise there. Even if you die running, it may be that you lived longer because you were running.
  • You do have to watch your diet. Article didn’t mention the role of reducing stress from other aspects of your life, spirituality or other factors that could extend your life. You could stress out over getting enough exercise.
  • Article doesn’t mention the inevitable injuries. There are at least, what,  1,001 ways to get injured if you run a lot. Any kind of physical activity runs the risk of injury, but doesn’t running carry the most risk (except skydiving?)   
  • Bottom line is, running can make your healthier but won’t prevent you from ultimately going belly up. You should do it because you love it. Unless you don’t love it and have injuries, then you’ll have to find something else to do.

The government will pay you to exercise in the UK

November 10, 2008

Manchester, England plans to start paying citizens to walk, jog and other wise exercise:

The move to address the ‘fat epidemic’ comes after figures which show that a quarter of British adults are obese.

Experts say that by 2050 at least 60 per cent of the population will be obese – so fat their health is in danger.

People will be invited to keep-fit classes or weight-loss clubs, and they could win points on their NHS loyalty card depending on how much weight they lose.

They will even get points for simply turning up to the sessions – even if they actually put on weight.

Running or walking in the local park could also earn points: there would be machines at intervals in parks, allowing people to swipe their card at the beginning or end of their journey. They would get points in accordance with how far they walk or run.

Walking their children to school rather than taking their car would also gain points; as would taking public transport to work, because this involves extra walking than taking the car as commuters have to walk to and from train stations and bus stops.

Running a marathon could kill you

November 4, 2008

There was a doctor (I forgot the name, I suppose I could google it) in the 1980s who claimed that anyone fit enough to run a marathon would be immune from heart disease. The doc didn’t figure that the stress of actually running a marathon could kill you dead fast. At the NYC Marathon run yesterday, two participants died.

Wii Fit, circa 1979

June 9, 2008

The Wii Fit is so hot that retailers can’t keep them in stock, or the shortages are deliberate or due to bad planning by Nintendo. Now do you think that exercising by your game console or computer is new? It existed nearly 30 years ago. A physical fitness application, distributed as a game cartridge named Physical Fitness became available when the TI-99/4 home computer was introduced in 1979 (but the copyright notice for the program states 1978. Interesting)

The Texas Instruments home computer, The TI 99/4 line of computers was sold until 1983. A TI 99/4A model came out in 1981 with a better keyboard and some other improvements.

TI-99/4 computer from 1978 (From the Obsolete Computers page)

I took these screen shots from a really good TI 99/4A simulator. You can download a pretty complete set of cartridges for it, including the Physical FItness cartridge.

The manual for the Physical FItness cartridge says:

Today as never before we are interested in finding exercise programs that promote our general fitness and good health. Only a generation or two ago most people received an adequate amount of exercise from their daily lives — walking to school or work and doing chores around the home or farm. Now, however, with our modern labor-saving devices — plus the fact that many of us have sedentary jobs — we often find that something extra in the way of exercise is needed. Physical fitness experts agree that the benefits of a regular exercise program, combined with other good health habits, can be enormous.

Exercise can tone up the muscles, improve blood circulation and heart efficiency, and increase strength and endurance. It gives you greater muscle control, helps keep your body supple, and generally enhances your feeling of well-being. In addition, exercising is an excellent way of relieving tension. When long hours of sitting at a desk or facing pressure situations give you a textbook case of “executive stress”, you can loosen up those tight muscles by exercising. These benefits are well worth the small amount of time invested in a regular exercise program.

The object of this module is to help you plan and maintain an exercise program designed for you — your lifestyle, your general health and condition, your exercise needs. The exercises, based on those found in The United States Book of Family Physical Fitness, prepared by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, are divided into five progressive levels, with separate categories for men and women. (These levels and the exercises themselves will be discussed more fully later.) The computer helps you keep rack of the order in which the exercises are performed and the number of times to do each one and sets the pace for the exercises.

Here’s computer based physical training, from 1979, when Jimmy Carter was president and disco was peaking out in the USA. There was also big trouble with Iran, we started to become involved in Afghanistan, and there was an energy crisis (what, things have come full circle??). Imagine inserting a cartridge into your home computer, turning on the power, pressing a few keys and getting ready for your workout:

The original RF (TV) display was 320 by 200 (32 x 25 characters) pixels. Then

Then you could review a list of exercises, or go on to the men’s or women’s workouts. The routines for men and women are pretty similar, only real difference is that men of course are expected to do more in their routines. Or so people thought in 1978.

And those people would be none other than the President’s Council on Physical Fitness (and now Sports). Founded in 1956 by President Eisenhower in reaction to the Cold War fear of Americans becoming soft, the commission is best known for the childhood fitness tests that all US primary school children go through, and often flunk.

First, check your pulse to see what your heart rate at rest is.

Pick a fitness level. The higher the number, the more rigorous the exercise. You progress from level to level when your adjusted heart rate is no longer reached by the exertion.

Let’s get started with calisthenics. Yep, this is going to be a little boring.

Now comes the cardio portion of the workout. You have an option of taking a run or doing some running in place exercises, as are displayed below:

Time to stop and check your pulse again.

Yes, this is quite dated (as much as leisure suits) and wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention today. But 30 years ago home computers caused as much excitement, and arguably more, than the game consoles of today.