When academics consider doing something–whether that something is to have children, to become vegans, or whatever–one of the first things we do is READ. As a result I’ve been reading a lot of popular books about fitness and I thought I’d share some of my reading adventures on the blog.
- This summer I read Drop Dead Healthy. In Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, AJ Jacobs sets his sights a bit higher than us. He’s aiming not just to be “fittest at fifty” instead his goal is both to make over his body and to become the healthiest person in the world. He’s also starting from a worse starting point than us, I think. He describes himself as “mushy, easily-winded, moderately sickly blob.” It’s fun reading as each month Jacobs takes on a different challege, seeks advice, tries to follow it, and reports on his success.
- I’m currently reading–about two-third done–Gretchen Reynolds’ The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer. Reynolds is the Phys Ed columnist for the New York Times. She’d approve of our ‘fittest at fifty project.’ A recent column is on the benefits of middle age fitness! Lots of neat findings there–yes, sitting is bad and high intensity interval training is good–but also some gloomy news about the body’s ability to preserve its size. I was struck by the studies that show that we often burn the same number of calories whether we exercise or not because or body regulates itself to rest more after physical activity. I think I’ll post a longer review of this book when I’m done.
- Both books are terrific for browsing and have each chapter’s conclusions repeated at the end, for the lazy readers among us. Jacobs gives a list of the end of the book of the advice he thinks is worth continuing with and why. Reynolds gives the scientific conclusions about exercise research at the end of each chapter.