Monday, May 30, 2005

Book Review: The Joy of Laziness

Good news for people like me: Too much exercise can kill you.

The only fault with "The Joy of Laziness" is that it's title attracts couch potatoes like me instead of the fitness freaks who need to hear this stuff.

As it is, a read of this fascinating book actually convinced me to increase the amount of exercise I get each week. But for once, it didn't make me feel guilty, or that I would have to make huge lifestyle changes. It just recommended four hours a week of movement - which could be walking, gardening, housework (!!) or whatever. Not strenuous exercise.

It would all seem a bit too good to be true, if The Joy of Laziness weren't written by two doctors.

Among the medical facts you'll find in this book are:
  • being relaxed and even-tempered makes you more intelligent
  • fasting delays the ageing process and lengthens your life (a hard one to swallow for me!)
  • sun and heat are the fountains of youth
  • 'doing nothing' actually does a great deal of good
Too much stress, exercise and (unfortunately) food can shorten your life. That's the assertion of Doctors Axt and Axt-Gadermann, and they hint that running marathons isn't really that good for you either.

As I alluded to before, the ones who really need to read this are the same ones who will be turned off by the title. It's a deliberately provocative title, and I love the cover in the UK version (I think it's the US version shown above) - a silhouette of a figure lying on a couch, with a cat lying on the footstool.

This is definitely worth a read if you value your health, mental and physical. They don't just point out the problem and leave it at that; the authors give clear guidelines for diet, exercise and restful activity.

The Joy of Laziness is a good companion volume to In Praise of Slow : How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, which I'll review shortly... but please don't be impatient! ;)


At 9:55 am, Blogger Borscht said...

I've heard of the Cult of Speed book, and I'll be borrowing it from you once I get down to Aotearoa NZ again soon.

Hm, let me demystify the notion of fitness here, for I feel the activity of "being active" is really taking a beating here.

Being active is all about developing steady habits. It's about ensuring that humans, as human being with bodies that are marvels of nature and crafted over MILLIENNA of evolution (regardless whether one believes the body was created or then created and evolved...a hybridization of the evolution/creation "theories" themselves), are MADE to move. Meaning, the parts are constructed such that not moving them is acutally harmful to one's humanity.

Naturally, there are various levels to being active. I'm not referring to the abnormal cases -- like abnormal anything (eating, copulating, or smoking), you've got to 'pay the piper' sometime.

I'm referring to the sorts of activity which are DEMANDED by the body, with the understanding that it IS a body and requires it.

Four hours of activity is a farcical number -- merely a theory -- gosh, you realize how much time we spend on work -- some of it completely wasteful unneeded and erroneous? Holed up in some drab locale, without a portal to the outside to view the sun and get Vitamin D.

I digress...

What I mean by all of this is one must get into good habits with one's state of fitness, for the body is a habitual and routine organism. It functions according to its own clock, and 'speaks' to you when it's not attended to.

Don't believe me? ::: Try not sleeping for a day, and see what happens. I know, because I used to do it all the time. :::

You'll see how one thing leads into another -- being more active physically will assist in mental processes. Clearing out certain chemicals in the mind will flush it, preparing it for the healthful influx of new chemicals. And, quite noticeably, you'll 'feel' better, regardless of what kinds of positive effects it's having on your insides.

Being like a bodybuilder is silly. Working out for three hours a day is also totally awry as well.

But maintaining an optimal level of fitness for an hour a day isn't asking much, considering how much time we devote to other pursuits, the results/goals of which are oftentimes questionable indeed.

That's all I'm saying.

And this ain't got nothing to do with being an adrenaline junkie.

Thank you. Naku na, CvG.

At 5:58 pm, Blogger Simon said...

Intriguing response. If four hours a week is arbitrary, surely one hour a day is also arbitrary?

Doesn't it just end up being which research you believe? Whichever research fits into the way you want to live. I wonder...

But point absolutely taken about the body being intentionally created to move. Absolutely. And we've got to reclaim some of the inefficient habits of our forbears that have disappeared in the age of invention ... take the stairs, catch the bus, definitely do not get a Segway! :)

Some of the research quoted in Joy of Laziness showed that people who have activity built-in (habitually, I guess) into their lives lived longer. They didn't have to stress out creating a "programme" or anything, they just did the gardening (for example).

At 11:04 pm, Blogger AtGm said...

Interesting review, I came to hear about the book today and wanted to find out more about it. Your blog post helped.


At 1:28 pm, Blogger Simon said...

Thanks AtGm, very glad the book review was helpful.


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