Monday, 22 September 2008

Maintain your strengths to live long and prosper

Ok, anyone who reads my blog knows that I have a load of theories and ideas. Well here's another one to try out and see if it floats or sinks.

I've mentioned before in the article 'What makes us kick the bucket' that it's possible that our bodies simply keep going until something happens that interrupts the normal processes of life and the body simply cannot carry on. Something like a blood vessel supplying the heart or brain, something like that.

I've also talked about the way fitness of mind and body is very much a 'use it or lose' scenario. There's nothing in our genes that robs us of fitness and health as we age. Our limits aren't as high, that's been shown, but we're talking the difference between running a marathon in 2 hours when you're young and maybe 2:30 or 3 hours when you're older, the message being you can still run a marathon. If you can run a marathon you can do pretty much anything else. Everything confirms that if you stimulate your body and keep pushing it regularly it will respond and stay strong and healthy.

So why is it that when we get old so few of us are able to run or swim or dance that much? What generally happens is that life gets in the way and we find it harder and harder to fit in those things that kept us fit when we were kids. Playing around. Walking to school. Playing tag. Ok we're adults and we don't do those things but there are adult equivalents. We just have so much responsibility and so many other things open to us and expected of us that we don't worry about keeping active.

Also it's down to general attitudes. When we're young our bodies take care of themselves. We don't do anything to help them. When we get older our bodies are designed to need more maintenance but we're not used to thinking about this, we generally still assume that

  • a) people get unfit when they get old any way, 
  • b) there's nothing we can do about it 
  • and c) it's not going to make a difference right away

The body is constantly dealing with situations that aren't supposed to happen. From illness, to accidents (broken bones etc), to internal problems such as blood clots floating around the body and threatening to get lodged somewhere. This kind of stuff is happening all the time. Probably not every day but on a yearly or monthly basis your body is managing a whole bunch of dangerous situations, often without you even being aware. Diabetes type 2 and strokes are conditions that arise from an underlying set of problems. That show how serious things can become when your body is unable to deal with basic functionality of certain organs.

So your body is constantly working to keep things functioning well and adapts to constant stressors. The thing is that as the years go by our bodies need more attention and maintenance but our lifestyles normally emphasis less and less focus on maintaining ourselves, we focus on our kids, our parents, our mortgages and jobs. Our bodies come last. Since we don't maintain them well they gradually lose their ability to deal with these daily and monthly stresses.

In other words many organs are no longer well maintained or fit for purpose. In turn because our bodies aren't functioning so well we don't feel as fit and healthy as we did in our youth. Because this is happening to most people our age we assume it's normal and part of life. We get resigned to it.

As this progresses the point at which your body or a particular organ is unable to overcome one of these stresses or problems gets closer. So our limits are getting reduced and our ability to overcome problems is lower. Eventually something gives and we suffer a stroke or heart attack or develop other problems and this is the beginning of the end. Pretty morbid stuff but that's what happens.

Anyway, to lighten the atmosphere. What can we do about it?
Yep you've guessed it, move!!!! really, you mean it's that simple? Well yes and no.

I don't believe in taking pills or quick fixes because our bodies are extremely complex. It's very unlikely one pill can fix all the problems in exactly the right way. I believe in evolution and that we have evolved with basic solutions that are adapted to our needs. We're still hunter gatherers by design. We just don't hunt or gather, we surf and greet the mail man to get stuff and we microware and serve to feed ourselves. It's so much easier these days.

So the biggest change in western lifestyles in the last century is not our intake it's our outgoings. We just move less. We burn less calories and, more importantly our bodies are built to use the natural motion of our daily lives to help get things done.

Why do we cool down after exercise. If we stopped moving straight away then our blood would pool in the muscles. Particularly the lower legs due to gravity. All that blood with waste products from our day needs to get to organs like the liver to be cleaned. To focus on the lower leg for a second the act of walking naturally squeezes the veins running through it and helps pump blood back to the heart and to where it can be cleaned.

In terms of digestion, we do have muscles that move food around our gut in a motion called 'peristalsis' but we benefit a great dealing from natural movement to help the process along. These are just a couple of examples of how a little movement helps the whole of our body and is part of what our bodies expect on a regular basis.

I recommend moving simply because it's natural and available to all of us. It can be free and when done with a little common sense, fits in with the way our bodies are designed to work, not against them. There aren't a huge list of side effects associated with it when do correctly and in balance with our lives.

What kind of movement?
I mean mental, physical and emotional. You can exercise your mind and emotions just like you can your body. I'm not as familiar with the mental and emotional side but I'm going to look into it.

You need intense movement to keep your limits high and develop your ability to deal with stress , you also need medium and low intensity movement so you can just enjoy moving for its own sake. Things like walking just chill you out and provide a nice way of getting from A to B.

I'm going to wrap up now because I feel I've had a decent rant and I feel a natural ending coming up. I hope I've made this idea clear to you. That our bodies don't have a time limit specifically stamped on them. The limit may depend on their ability to get through each day. If we don't maintain them just like we do our treasured cars and houses, then they too succumb to pressures and crumble. With care and maintenance they'll last for years and years.

I feel this puts things into perspective and fits in with what I see around me and what I learn, but is that the same for you?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Longevity, Negativity, and Positive Thinking

For this simple guide I was searching for references on stress and how exercise can help with it. I find some great articles but nothing really stood out to me. They either seemed to have too much depth or not enough. I'm thinking of stress because we're all busy. We have more to do than we have time to do it. So it's nice to think a little about how to deal with it all in a way that suits us.

Since I couldn't find anything I wanted to include I tried a different approach. I thought I'd go through sites and blogs I like and see if they've got a relevant article. What I came up with is something I've been looking for, for a while about how to live long and prosper (no it's not a start trek reference, they just got there first). This article looks into the life and times of a 114 year old guy with a 101-year-old brother, two daughters aged 81 and 77, and a nephew aged 85, all of them born and still living in a small town of the island of Menorca.

We get some insights into how they got so healthy at such an age and surprise, surprise, a lack of stress is cited as part of the reason. I'm not presenting these results as conclusive. there's a lot of data and questioning to be done until we get all the answers. I've just always wondered what I'd find out if I talked to a bunch of people who have lived a really long time and are really healthy and this is about the closest I'll get to that.

Added at 21:20
One theory I have that I'm unable to test is that people who keep their abilities and faculties as they age do so because don't believe that getting older means getting slower. I have known guys who are still in their prime at 60 and even 80, by prime I mean running marathons, going on ski-ing holidays, and doing all of it better than those younger than them. They don't do anything to excess but they also don't let their faculties waste away either.

I say this partly because it's very noticeable to me how similar the symptoms of ageing are to the syptoms of neglect both mental and physical. Kids these days are developing diseases more common in the elderly. Is it that they're ageing sooner or are they just showing signs of neglect sooner.

I also say this because it's the only answer that fits all the people I can think of who are fit and active way past any one else.their age. I can also think of the fundamental principle behind exercise which in this case is 'use it or lose it'. Once you start feeling you should slow down and give in to the ageing process by expecting less of yourself then that's eactly what you'll get. All I can see is that hile we're young our bodies don't need much of a push to stay healthy but as we age they need more and more of a push. So if you want to stay fighting fit then you'd better learn to fight.

I also wonder if another key factor is not just being fit through out life but having a high level of fitness. Stress is relative. If you're used to a lot of pressure then yu're preception of stressful times is going to be different to someone who doesn't ge much stimulation often The same goes for your mind and body. If you regularly push them close to their limits even just once a week then they'll maintain their abilities and not get stressed out very easily. If you don't challenge them often then they'll get stressed out much more easily because what was once easy is now near your limits.

As I said I can't prove this, but then again I can't disprove it either. The more I think about it the more it fits with all I know. We'll see won't we

The French Paradox: Having your cake and eating it

I mentioned to a friend recently about the French paradox. That is the idea that some things the French do go counter to current wisdom in health education yet they still have fantastic results in many of the health statistics that we compare nations by.

In the same search I found that in some quarters the 'French Paradox' doesn't hold up, however that appears to be due to alcohol and cigarette use which just shows that when they do copy our bad habits then their health suffers too.

What I'm more interested in is how their lifestyles seem to leave them at far lower risk of heart disease and obesity (source:OECD health data) while being known for some of the best and most indulgent food on the planet.

I don't have all the answers yet. I posted this article as a beginning of this topic so I can add to it as things become apparent.

My understanding is that while the French have a true appreciation of great food and the joys of life they also understand the need for balance and moderation. It's fundamentally more than just diet, it's about the way they live and their approach to living. They don't like to rush around and get things done ASAP as we often do in the UK or US. They prefer to live life first and get things done as a consequence. They like to savour moments as they come along. This means things like having dinner with the family at the table. They may have alcohol but that's because they take their time to eat they don't rush.

I believe they're working culture is more family oriented and less driven on deadlines. I believe that's the kind of lifestyle that helps them have fewer heart disease and obesity problems. They don't eat the high fat food they're known for all the time or in great quantities however they do have a little of what they want and when they do they take the time to enjoy the moment however long it lasts.

I say I believe all this cos that's the point of this article. Over time I want to see if that's actually true or just a myth. It's becoming apparent that while the Japanese were looked upon as a healthy example, over time as they adopt more western lifestyles they are increasing less healthy. Or could it just be down to differences in each countries welfare state? since this should have a big impact on quality and length of life.

So is this happening to France or can we learn from them.

Learn more about preventing obesityinsulin resistanceheart disease and Diabetesdementia and alzheimers and even Cancer through exercise

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Rethinking the Wrinkling: Key Genes Cause Aging

I just came across a fascinating article which implies that ageing could be primarily controlled by our genes. The only thing we can do about it is control how much we eat. That's the initial findings anyway. Whether this pans out we'll see. A good explanation of how this all connects is given.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Can kids teach themselves? Sugata Mitra

Through work I attended a conference last November that reminded me of so many small things we all know when we're at school but we forget about when we become adults and go to work.

What made the conference special was one amazing demonstration given by Sugata Mitra from Newcastle University. He is already well known for his 'hole in the wall' experiments.

He presented on these experiments and I sat dumbfounded. He's a really great presenter and understands how to make things clear, concise and entertaining. The crux of his work is that, as wikipedia notes,

He has convincingly demonstrated that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are, can learn to use computers and the Internet on their own using public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds

The experiments involve putting a computer in a public space where kids can congregate. Making it a little secure like a cash machine and setting up a hidden video camera to watch what happens. The computer is connected to the web and runs a browser that 's really easy for kids to use.

What happened was that once kids found the computer and realised they could use it. They quickly started exploring. They told friends and quickly there were large groups around. They didin't fight over it as all could see the screen. One kid navigated while the group decided where to go.

This wasn't even what's so amazing. We all know kids like to explore. What was amazing was how much these kids learnt. In one study Sugata Mitra searched for the most remote, least connected part of India, where they don't speak English at all and they have no possible chance of internet connections at home. Not only did the kids figure out how to use the internet really quickly. They even learnt to speak English. All from the web. Sure they spoke with an American accent because they'd learnt from watching American videos but they learnt all the same. Without being able to read or speak English the children taught themselves to both speak and read it. How fascinating.

The learning doesn't end there, Mitra's presentation went on to talk about how these kids, many were only 8 or 9 years old, began to learn about DNA and genetics and were able to understand extremely advanced concepts. All through having the freedom to explore their own interests.

So I log it here simply as a fascinating insight and a reminder that often we judge the limitations of kids given the limitations of our teaching methods and resources. I always remembered from school that the methods used were what limited our knowledge. That's nothing against the teachers or school it's just that our knowledge of effective education and our tools for acheiving these ideals are now advancing far faster than they ever have before.

It also reminded me about concepts such as Vicarious learning (learning through others), how much you can learn in a social environment, the power of giving someone freedom to learn at their pace and through following their own interests, and also the concept that the learning achieved is so dependent on the tools and resources available.

I was always aware of these concepts but I'd kind of forgotten their importance. While I'm learning to be a tennis coach I like to let kids get a feel for the ball and racquet and let their mind and body figure out how to work with each other.

I often felt that the typical approach I was used to, where a long line of kids wait in line to hit one ball at a time was inefficient. You don't get enough time with the ball for you to figure out what to do with it. Thinking of this experiment I'm reminded how important it is to see what other people as well doing something yourself. If someone hits the ball really well you get to see why, if they hit it badly you also see it. You may not realise why but a good teacher will point this out. Often though you can figure it out for yourself. You naturally copy the good kid and avoid what the bad kid is doing. Social pressure often encourages most kids to be 'good enough' and so they all pay at least a little attention and they all learn from each other.

Related Articles

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Constant stress and weight problems?

I do wonder whether constant stress and weight problems are related. Basically is it possible that constant stress may lower your metabolism and make you prone to adding weight? I've met many a person that doesn't really eat too much, in fact they're too busy to eat much at all. Yet they always complain of their waste line expanding. How could that be particularly if they really aren't eating that much.

Well, you've guessed it :-), I've found an excerpt in an article that explains how this could be the case. Hold on to your hats cos it does get a bit techy. I'm logging it hear so that if the idea holds water then I may write a laymans version in time

It's not actually the whole article just a few paragraphs so rather than send you there and tell you to scroll down to some random point I've taken the liberty of pasting it here. Please check out the original article at

One thing I’m wondering about is what actually signals the body to notch down metabolic rate. I have heard people say that it’s the calories ingested, but I suspect it’s not that simple. I wonder if consumption of muscle protein does this for example. Do you know what triggers it?
As discussed in the second post, one of the effects of short-term fasting is a decrease in the thyroid hormone T3. We already know that T3 (and T4 to a lesser degree) is directly responsible for metabolism, so it’s not too hard to deduce what causes the metabolic rate to fall. T3 conversion falls, metabolism falls - simple as that. But why does T3 conversion fall?
Well, for that, we’ll look back up to the previous question and just say one simple word: cortisol. Cortisol blocks the conversion of T4 to active T3, along with promoting the production of a thyroid hormone called “reverse T3″. This mirror image of T3 has an empty iodine receptor; it binds to thyroid receptors in cells, but does not activate them. By binding to these receptor zones, it blocks the action of T3. It’s easy to see why chronic stress, and therefore chronically elevated cortisol levels, helps push one towards obesity. It’s not just the late nights at work with fast food for dinner (though that doesn’t help); the stress is actually causing a chronic depression of the metabolism, along with the immune system as seen above.

Managing Diabetes through Exercise

One thing this blog lacks is simple guides to thing. I often go into depth in areas the average person won't be able to follow. I could write some simple guides myself but plenty of people have already done this and put them on the web. So this is the first article designed purely as an entry into a topic.

Today the topic is diabetes. There is already a lot of advice on how to eat both while living with Diabetes and to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. There is mounting evidence that quality exercise has a big role to play in both preventing diabetes onset and making it uch easier to live with.

The article linked to below gives a short and simple introduction to the topics oftype 2 diabetes(NIDDM), insulin, insulin resistance and exercise

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Training your intake: Intermittent Fasting

I've been reading a little about intermittent fasting from the modern forager site. It's fascinating me. I'm reminded that every so often I actually feel absolutely stuffed but I haven't been over-eating. It often feels like my body just needs a restfrom eating or something which is weird cos I'm kind of an eating machine when I want to be.

Anyway I'm still learning about the concept of intermittent fasting and what really struck me is the idea that its kind of like training your body how do deal with the resources you give it properly. This means learning not to waste the calories and nutrients you give it. I've always felt that humans seem to need so much food compared to what e actually do. We just seem wasteful.

It makes sense to me that with the lives we live these days with abundant food everywhere, regular meals full of quality food. It's funny to say it but this isn't necessarily what nature intended. Sounds crazy doesn't it. ell it's all just speculation at the moment but it opens another interesting door.

When we train our bodies to run marathons all we're doing is telling them that they need to find a way to be a lot more efficient with the energy available for a long time. Our bodies know how to do this, they just need a push. That's where the training comes in. The same goes for getting strong. We lift heavy weights so our bodies know we want them to be strong. So they adjust.partly by adding more muscle fibres but also by making the nerves in the muscles work better so they can all work together.

When it comes to nutrition we generally focus on getting regular meals. Always giving our bodies what we need. This intermittent fasting sounds like a way to train your body to make better use of the resources you give it rather than continually expecting new resources.

A fascinating idea. I'm really interested in how it pans out.

Edit: January 5 2014
5 years later and I used intermittent fasting every so often to reset my metabolism. I find it quite useful. This christmas it was perfect for enjoying the holiday season and restoring balance when needed

Friday, 12 September 2008

Getting healthy shouldn't feel like work

I just had a game of tennis. Chatting with my tennis buddy afterwards we were talking about why we prefer playing tennis or any sport over just going for a run. The main reason for both of us is that sooner or later running, for us, just feels like work.

We're not runners you see. I know I can run 6 or 7 miles relatively comfortably but I just won't enjoy covering that distance half as much as covering the same distance on a tennis court or a football pitch. We also know that we won't put in the same intensity (quality) or effort. In the end your body simply adapts to the demands you place on it so we get a much better workout from a simple game of tennis than we ever do from a run.

The main factor is that we enjoy it. So we want to push ourselves. It takes so much longer on the tennis court for us to feel so tired we need to stop. We've both learnt that once something starts to feel like work then we can't class it as fun and we need to change it. It's also true that I owe so much of my health to tennis because I want to play come rain or shine, in the hot and the cold. it keeps me active in all weathers and no matter what my work load. Without it I'd succumb to stress and I wouldn't want to be active.

So ultimately it's the fun in the activity that keeps me going.

Reliable First and Second Serve

I've always struggled with getting a reliable second serve. I'm one of those guys who can do damage with his serve when it's working but when it's not I double fault regularly. Obviously your serve is only as good as your second serve so I've tried lots of ways to make it solid. In general I find that once I've warmed up properly and played myself in my serve starts to get consistent.

The problem is that in many matches this means I often lose the first couple of service games leaving me at a big disadvantage. Also my serve can just go hay wire for a game and then I lose another. Of course I just need to lose one service game per set to lose it so it's often a problem.

The methods I've tried to make my serve consistent are pretty standard
  • take some pace off
  • don't jump into it
  • focus more on spin
They help a bit more sometims I feel they actually hurt my serve more than help. Primarily because they don't help me develop a rhythmn. Related to some previous posts I feel your body has it's own set routine for all tennis shots. That's what practise is about, instilling that routine. There are things your body finds easier to adapt these routines to than others. The things I've tried often end up changing the timing of things (taking pace off), taking things away (don't jump), or adding something (more spin) to the natural routine. This all ends up as one extra thing to think of. thus I'm thinking more about the technique of serving than I am about beating my opponent and reacting quickly etc.

so my new approach that makes things much simpler is to practise varying the height of my ball toss. My reason being, the bigger the serve the higher the ball toss needs to be, in general. Therefore to make a more reliable serve with less pace with out changing anything about my serve I can just throw it lower or hit it at a lower point, depending on your perpective. The beauty of this is that the timing and routine aspects of the serve will all be the same. I don't have to adjust, add or even remove anything. I just throw the ball up and hit it. I'm free to think about the spin and direction I'm going to apply and once I get comfortable and relaxed I'll begin thinking much more about tactics than about the serve.

The nicest feature is that when I want a bigger serve I just have to get good at placing the ball high enough and forward enough. This does put pressure on my ability to toss the ball accurately but then that's all part of the game.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Making a computer that works like the brain

Oh my god!!!!, This post about an advanced approach to computing just blew me away. It's presented and so well I have faith that the concepts behind it are true. I know much of it is and he inefficiencies of traditional computing have been known for years but no one has presented so well on how our brains achieve more with less. Progress on this would be amazing.

The presenters Kwabena Boahen has done a fantastic job.

Edit: 24/04/2009
I recently found an update to this work entitle googling the brain.  Yet another fascinating update on work that could easily take us into a new era in both computing and our understanding of ourselves

Why we don’t understand as much as we think we do

I tried the ted miro player today and this is the first talk I watched. As usual I was inspired. The concept here is about teaching people properly by getting the message right. As fascinating a talk as it is obvious. the speaker is Johnathan Drori. Watch it then see how it changes your perception.

If the video won't play watch it at ted

Health Science: finding facts from correlations

One thing that does really bug me when science, particularly health science, is reported in the press is that correlations are so often consider evidence of fact. I just read an article titled 'Vitamins in foods may protect brain'. Now I do accept the concept that vitamins are likely to help with brain function but I' object to the way things are presented.

The concept of balance is often ignored. I mean that the ratio of vitamins, minerals and all other chemicals in our bodies is extremely important. It's not sufficient to just raise the level of one vitamin without understanding it's impact on the rest of our bodily processes. For me this approach is far too reductionist. It assumes that changing one chemical will only have positive effects and no negative. That's rarely if ever the case. Take water for example. Our bodies may be over 90% water but it's even possible to die from taking on too much water. This is known as hyponutraemia and the condition is becoming more common in ultra distance sports events because athletes are taking on lots of water but not enough electrolytes and other essential chemicals in order to maintain a balance in the body. The blood then becomes too dilute and problems occur as a result.

I feel the knowledge we have is wonderful but no one has yet bothered to tie this all into a model that helps us make sense of all the interactions. It's almost like too much research is being done with out any end result of general and specific theories being created. I'm really talking about theories that can then be turned into software that can do all the donkey work for us. A suite of applications that we can then use to investigate our bodies in real time using virtual hearts, brains or even bodies. Extremely complex video games already exist that show that we already have the technology and know how to manage the complexity required. I just don't think anyone with power and money has realised it's possible yet and that it would advance our ability to deal with these health issues in staggering ways.

Anyway I sense I am going off on one. Something I did want to point out is that I find it too easy to pick apart many of these studies to find variables they have not controlled for. In plain english I mean that I could use the finding to support a completely different explanation or approach than that given in the study or used by the community.

For me I wonder if the high levels of vitamin B12 simply show the effects of the way of life lead by those studied. Maybe they eat more B12 or maybe their bodies are better at extracting it from their food. Maybe their way of life provides enough stimulus to their bodies to extract the B12 in the first place. None of these answers are ever in the research I read. What do I mean by stimulus? Well, when I learnt about Osteoporosis during my degree. I was fascinated to find that the body can be given plenty of calcium but this wouldn't protect against osteoporosis. Only when enough exercise and the right kind of exercise was taken would the calcium be both absorbed and used to strength bones and reduce or prevent osteoporosis. Exercise was the stimulus. Simply eating enough calcium wasn't enough. so will increasing B12 intake work. Is there any evidence? This isn't made clear in the article.

How do we deal with this then?
I think the body is generally far better at regulating itself than we are at micro managing it. Each time I've tried to intervene in my body I think I've taken 1 step forward and 2 steps back to be honest. It's all a fine balance and only our bodies themselves know for sure what they need. I now believe that we should just focus on getting the resources to our bodies. I mean water, protein, carbs, fat, mineral viatmins all from normal foods sources. I just try to vary what I have froom fresh, frozen and tinned, hot and cold, sweet and savoury etc so that all the positvies and negatives of each balance each other out. As long as there is enough in the melting pot that is my diet I feel my body will take what it needs. As long as I've got enough waste disposal (fibre) material my body can get rid of the waste.

I then live an active, productive and fun life to give my mind a nd body enough stimulus to make the parts of me strong and healthy that I need to live the life I want. Basically, use it or lose it. So all I really have to do is follow the life I WANT to lead. Eat a good balance and variety of foods. Let my body figure it out. that's how we've evolved and how we're designed to live. the funny thing is, the more I read research the more I find it actually supports this simplified view.

Funny that.

Code like a girl

Yep, you've guessed it if you've just read my previous post. I've found a site I like and it's inspired me with a bunch of posts. That's just the way it works with me. this time is a little different... just a little cos I'm not going to talk about health or exercise !!!!. Yeah, you didn't know I had it in me did you ;-).

So what's the inspiration? Well I'm also a coder, as in I wrote software, web software particularly but software all the same. Because I didn't learn this for my degree I've always gone with what I feel is the best approach I can find and just strived for excellence as I feel it should be achieved. Part of that excellence, for me, comes in nicely organised, nice to look at code. not just something that elegant in it's design but elegant in it's presentation aswell.

for me it's because I worked on a side project during lunch hours etc that meant I might not touch it for months at a time. So I'd forget where I was and what I meant when I wrote a chunk of code. So when I got back to it I didn't want to spend hours figuring out what I was supposed to achieve or make an error becuase it wasn't obvious how a change would affect the whole. No, I wanted to see this instantly and with little or no effort. Clean well organised code was a big part of my answer and boy did it make a difference to my productivity and enjoyment. I spent so much more time writing solutions than fixing mistakes.

I think a way to explain this to the lay person is to say that a beautiful idea expressed on paper can still be very difficult to understand. If this idea is portrayed by a wordsmith who writes elegant phrases then all of a sudden the elegance and beauty of the idea is there for all to see and the style of writing or even it's presentation simply draw you in. You go from having to force yourself to understand the concept to being amazed at how easy it is to grasp.

I linked to it becuase it's nice to see other people people making the same point and making it very elegantly.

Fitness Gadgets

Another stroll in the web scape led me to this fascinating page by the guys at creating passionate users. It's all about using the latest technology to get healthier and have fun at the same time. I'm all about that and was glad to find an article with great ideas.

I particularly like the sport brain approach. My wife uses the fitbug pedometer which works ina very similar way and is mentioned in the comments of the article. I'm really impressed with the fitbug and so I'd like to try out the sport brain approach. It's really helpful just to have a record of how active you've been throughout the day.

I had a quick check of the market and found reviews of both fitbug and sportbrain and overall I'm hearing the fitbug (or omron HJ-720 ITC) is the winner, predominantly because it is more accurate. I can't speak for other pedometers but the fitbug seems very acurate and can just be left in your pocket rather than clipped to a belt or anything. It also doesn't use a pendulum to measure steps. My guess is they use an accelerometer but I'm not really bothered I just find it really convenient and accurate which is what counts.

any way I've been meaning to talk about decent pedometers for a while so at least I've finally got round to it. I also seem to have come across a really interesting new blog so I'm quite chuffed.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Comparing Winning Styles of play

Reading reports on the current US open it's fascinating to see how different players handle adversity and achieve their best. I stumbled on an article comparing Jelena Jankovic with Roger Federer as examples of how the number two players in the worlds go about becoming number 1.

I was particularly impressed with the analysis of Federer. I find him really interesting to watch. Given that many are saying that he may be a spent force I find it worth remembering that he's still made two grandslam finals this year. Ok he was completely outplayed at the French but he still made the final which means he can beat everyone except Nadal. Maybe it's just because we're used to supreme dominance and so when the standard drops even a little it's easy to fall off that perch.

It really fascinates me to see if Roger can regain that dominance and to see how he goes about it. Logic would tell me that he should remember what made him great in the first place and go back to that place and above all trust himself. If he's been great for years then you don't just stop being great. That sounds like what he's doing. I hope it carries on and he gets some success with it.

Atleast the fight is now going to be really interesting with Nadal on the scene.