For almost 200 years, people have associated high fitness levels with health, longevity, and beauty. Eugene Sandow, the father of bodybuilding, began proselytizing fitness in the second half of the Nineteenth Century. As part of the physical culture movement emanating from Germany in the mid-Nineteenth Century, he embraced exercise as a means to greater health and because it valued the aesthetic of a beautiful body in the Classical Greek sense of beauty. One hundred years later, this tradition lived on in Arlene Pieper and Jack Lalanne, though in the Puritan United States, the physical beauty part was attenuated. Arlene and Jack both lived and advocated for physical fitness as a way of life and a way to better mental performance. In the 1960s, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, MD, noticed cardiac rehabilitation patients at his clinic recovered more rapidly if they were active. Dr. Cooper became the father of aerobics, and active rehabilitation of cardiac patients instead of bed rest became the standard of care. The research floodgates opened: the London Transport Workers Study, the Framingham Heart Study, and dozens, if not hundreds of cross-sectional, longitudinal, systematic reviews, and even randomized controlled trial studies have the same result: the more a person exercises, the more likely that person is to have a longer life free of morbidity. Exercise and its resulting fitness cause lower rates of sarcopenia, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and dementia. and some mental illnesses. And, yes, you look better, and your self-image improves.
Current research is investigating not if, but how exercise increases longevity and lowers morbidity. But the mechanisms are as varied as the conditions attenuated. Strength training causes greater muscular strength and bone density in all age groups. This leads to many improvements in the functional health of people of all ages. Cardiovascular training significantly improves VO2Max, an important vital sign. Beyond this, multiple areas of metabolism are improved by regular, vigorous exercise. Telomere regrow. Chromosomes replicate more accurately. Gut health improves. Muscle mitochondrial density increases. Metabolic and hormonal function improve. Seemingly every possible physical and mental function is rejuvenated by vigorous exercise.
In this context, two recent research papers have caught my eye. The first, published in iScience, is a large survey study of the relationship between weight loss, all, and various physical fitness modalities. It takes the interesting position of advocating for weight-neutral management of the health effects of obesity.
Imagine it. It's the worst-case scenario for some people—immigrants of different skin color stream across an unprotected border, searching for a better life. With them, they bring the lifestyles of their home country. Unfortunately, their host country had laws banning the practices. After some time, the host country moves to enforce the federal laws of the land. The newcomers successfully resist the authorities with violence. After successfully defying federal law enforcement, the immigrants become separatists and declare an independent state. The situation worsens when the immigrants' home country decides to annex the newly independent state. A war between the countries ultimately ensues.
Is this a white supremacist's worst nightmare? Hardly. Check your history books, albeit not ones approved in Texas public schools. It is the birth story of the state of Texas. The federally illegal practice that the immigrants bring with them? It's slavery, introduced by Americans moving into what was northeast Mexico.
98% of the atoms in the human body are replaced every year (1). The body is an ever changing stream. Nothing about it is constant.