Dec 212012

The study this blog entry is based on uses the terms “aerobic exercise” to describe the fitness of the subjects in the study who can stand up from the ground without bracing themselves on something. The study found that the ability to rise from the ground unaided was linked to the general age people would die.

What the study actually has found is that people who have strong hips live longer, while those with weak hips die earlier. The strength of the hips is directly related to the strength of the Yin part of the body.

This original news story is reprinted below.

Sit-ups closely linked to mortality risk, study finds

Can you sit and rise from the floor unaided and without holding an object for support?

Now, scientists say that ability to sit and rise from the floor is closely correlated with all-cause mortality risk.

This test of musculo-skeletal fitness is a “strong predictor” of mortality among middle-aged and senior citizens.

This was found in a study of more than 2,000 middle-aged and older men and women performed in Brazil and announced by European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention on Thursday.

During the study period, 159 subjects died, indicating a mortality rate of 7.9%.

The majority of these deaths occurred in people with low test scores indeed, only two of the deaths were in subjects, who had gained a composite score of 10.

Analysis found that survival in each of the four categories differed with high statistical significance.

Subjects, who failed to get up without holding onto something had a five-six times higher risk of death than those in the reference group, who could perform the task. However, in this study a composite score below 8 (i.e. requiring more than one hand or knee support to sit and rise from the floor in a stable way) were associated with a two-fold higher death rate over the 6.3-year study period.

Dr Claudio Gil Araujo from an exercise medicine clinic said, “A high score in the sitting-rising test might reflect the capacity to successfully perform a wide range of activities of daily living, such as bending over to pick up a newspaper or a pair of glasses from under a table.”

“Even more relevant,” reported the investigators, “is the fact that a one-point increment in the sitting-rising score was related to a 21% reduction in mortality.”

Dr Araujo said, “It is well known that aerobic fitness is strongly related to survival, but our study also shows that maintaining high levels of body flexibility, muscle strength, power-to-body weight ratio and co-ordination are not only good for performing daily activities but have a favourable influence on life expectancy.”

“When compared to other approaches to functional testing,” said Dr Araujo, adding, “the sitting-rising test does not require specific equipment and is safe, easy to apply in a short time period (less than 2 minutes), and reliably scored. In our clinical practice, the test has been shown over the past 10 years to be useful and practical for application to a large spectrum of populations, ranging from pediatric to geriatric.”

The assessment was performed in 2,002 adults of both sexes and with ages ranging between 51 and 80 years. The subjects were followed-up from the date of the baseline test until the date of death or 31 October 2011, a median follow-up of 6.3 years.

Before starting the test, they were told: “Without worrying about the speed of movement, try to sit and then to rise from the floor, using the minimum support that you believe is needed.”

Dr Araujo emphasized the great potential of the sitting-rising test among primary care physicians looking for a quick appraisal of musculo-skeletal fitness in clinical or industrial settings. “If a middle-aged or older man or woman can sit and rise from the floor using just one hand or even better without the help of a hand they are not only in the higher quartile of musculo-skeletal fitness but their survival prognosis is probably better than that of those unable to do so.”

Dec 212012
Dec 202012

Why are our hands the shape that they are? Compared with those of other apes, the thumb is longer and the palms and fingers are short. Scientist have a variety of ideas as to why they evolved to be that way:

–The comparatively longer thumb allows us so much more dexterity, permitting us to make tools.

–The proportions of the hand may be the indirect consequence of natural selection for a foot with a long toe, so handy for keeping balance while walking. (Hand and foot development occur along very similar lines, and many of the same molecules are involved. That means natural selection for one would affect development of the other as well.)

Researchers at the University of Utah have another suggestion: The hand is the shape that it is because it allows us to make a nice fist for fighting that protects key parts of the hand from harm.

The proposal, made by student Michael Morgan and biologist David Carrier, was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. The duo tested their hypothesis in a series of experiments in which men pounded punching bags, squeezed pressure sensors or performed one-handed push-ups on top of pressure sensors. From this, the scientists learned that force meted out by the hand is about the same when a bag is punched by a fist versus slapped, but nearly twice as great when you consider that the fist delivers its force to a smaller surface area. The study also found that the knuckle joint of the index finger is rendered stiffer and more stable — transfering force more effectively and protecting the hand — when a tight fist is made.

In other words, the fist is a dandy fighting tool.

Here’s a summary of the article at the journal site and the scholarly paper itself.

The duo isn’t saying that the advantages of manual dexterity and selection for a different foot shape played no part in hand evolution — just that fighting may have done so as well.

And, they write, “there appears to be a paradox in the evolution of the human hand. It is arguably our most important anatomical weapon, used to threaten, beat and sometimes kill to resolve a conflict. Yet it is also the part of our musculoskeletal system that crafts and uses delicate tools, plays musical instruments, produces art, conveys complex intentions and emotions, and nurtures.”

You could imagine a lot of hand shapes that could do one of those two skill sets well, they write. “There may, however, be only one set of skeletal proportions that allows the hand to function both as a mechanism for precise manipulation and as a club for striking.”

Dec 042012

The human body has what is commonly referred to as “energy” associated with it. That energy can be treated in different ways in order to help visualize it’s behavior. It is useful to treat the energy of the human body as something insubstantial that encloses the body, and it is useful to treat the energy of the human body as something that is delivered to an object by some part of the body.

It is also useful to treat the energy of the human body as if it is something that can be “put” on an object. A more familiar way to phrase “putting the energy of the body on an object of interest” is to say “focusing the attention or intent on an object of interest.

The action of the human figure in the following picture can be described as focusing his attention on, focusing his intent on, or putting his energy on the red object in front of him

The next picture shows a child who is focusing his attention or intent on a television in front of him. He can also be described as “putting his energy” on the television.

The attention of a human being is usually thought of as being related to the eyes. The example of the boy looking at the TV reinforces that preconception because his eyes are focused on the television.

The attention or intent of a human being does not necessarily have to be focused on the same location their eyes are focused. Please take a moment to examine the next example picture.

The man’s eyes are focused on the camera,

so if this example was treated in the same way as the little boy looking at the television example, the man would be described as “putting his attention or intent on the camera” or “focusing his energy on the camera”.

Look at the man’s hands though. They are pointing at a poster on the wall,

and his head is inclined towards the same poster.

The man’s body is focused on the poster, so the man could be described as focusing his attention or intent on the poster, or “putting his energy on the poster”.

Actually both answers are correct. The man’s body is focused on the poster while his eyes are focused on the camera, which means his energy is “split”. Instead of putting all of his energy on one location, he has “split” his energy so he could put it on two different location.

Just because the eyes and body and focused on different locations does not necessarily mean the individual’s energy is split. In many instances where the body and the eyes are focused on different locations, all of the energy is actually being put at the location the body is focused on. The eyes are looking a different direction because the head and body are misaligned, not because the eyes are focusing on anything of interest.

The following list presents some observations about treating the energy of the human body as something that can be focused on an object of interest.

(1) – The energy of the entire body should be focused on the object of interest for health reasons.

Splitting the energy of the body to focus on different objects of interest can be just as bad as the word “splitting” implies. Doesn’t it instinctively sound bad to “split” anything in the human body? Splitting the energy of the body induces pressure in parts of the body not designed to withstand that pressure, which can lead to health problems. These statements all apply to individuals who are unknowingly splitting their energy.

That distinction is important to make because splitting the energy of the body can also be the high level attainment of someone who has spent years of physical practice in pursuit of that ability. The difference in the two situations is that the body of the person who has done physical practice to purposefully gain the skill of splitting their energy, can withstand the pressure that is generated by that process.

(2) – It is common for for the energy of the individuals in the following categories to be split between multiple focal points.

(A) – Young People

 Young people frequently display the signs of split energy because they have not finished growing. As a result they do not control their body well enough to focus all of their energy on one location. It is also common for the energy of young people to be unfocused because they are not mentally strong enough or disciplined enough.

(B) – Old People

The energy of old people will become unfocused for the same reasons the energy of young people is unfocused. Just the causes for the reasons are different. 

Young people have trouble focusing their body because it is not fully developed. Old people have trouble focusing their body because their body is failing and refuses to respond.

Young people have trouble mentally focusing because they are just learning to use their mind. Old people have trouble mentally focusing because their mind is decaying.

(3) – Sick People

The energy of sick people will become unfocused because the illness either interferes with the body’s ability to respond to their commands, or the illness interferes with their mind so it loses the ability to focus on anything.

(4) – Anyone who desires to misdirect another individual

The energy of the body can be unfocused on purpose. The reason why is misdirection. “Misdirection” is convincing someone to look in one direction while the person who is doing the misdirecting does something else at the other location his split energy is focused on.

There are many situations where that ability would be useful. Almost all of them are as dishonest and hurtful as the description implies. Most successful criminals are successful because they misdirect their victim’s attention one way while they steal something from the other way.

A pickpocket for instance would talk to the target so the target puts their attention on the pickpockets head and face to listen to them. Because the pickpocket can split his energy, he can keep talking to the victim normally while his hand reaches into the victim’s pocket to steal something.

Anyone involved in fighting will find misdirection useful. By splitting their energy and tricking an opponent to look at one location their energy is focused on, they can hit or kick the opponent with the arm or leg the rest of their energy was focused on.