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Boring Cardio?! ADD, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) We Like to Move it, Move it!

eebee's picture

 I've been knocking these rather trivial, large-scale thoughts around my head for some years now and wanted to write something about them. Last night, whilst watching 20/20, was the final straw! This post might complement KJG's questions in Monotony of Training.

The need to be constantly on the move seems to be a large part of human nature; not just in the same place seeing the same things, but branching out, further afield to see and experience as much of the world as possible. Bridging great distances sets the stage for such human learning. Fossil fuels (boo) and astronomical amounts of cardio (skating - thanks to the utilization of fossil fuels/asphalt) enable the distance-bridging.

I'm going to start with the controversial claims I heard last night on 20/20 about Jim Karas' new book: The Cardio-Free Diet. Now, I understand the cute wordplay in the title, but cardiovascular activity is a separate entity from diet. Per 20/20, since I haven't read the book, Karas claims that cardio doesn't help people lose weight because it's boring (people avoid it like the plague), and because it makes you hungry! Well ok, vive la difference and whatever gets you through the night. I conclude that this one is not for me, and probably won't be a healthy approach for others who loathe sitting in one place for longer than 30 minutes. I wanted to scream at the cardio-machine-frustrated 20/20 interviewees that they should take up inline-skating, cycling, dancing, badminton, ping-pong, or something they always wanted to try, and then claim they hate cardio! Treadmills are boring! Stairmasters are boring! Yes! Embrace your boredom. Your treadmill tedium is trying to tell you something. Exercise machines, gyms and office jobs are a covert form of inhumane torture! But wait! Don't throw the fitness out with the stairmaster. Poor ol' badminton has a bad rap for being pansyish, but you can slug the heck out of the shuttlecock/birdie and get rid of some aggression without shattering your neighbor's window. Plus all that lunging to pick up the shuttlecock gives you a pretty good glute workout.

An interesting article on NPR about Restless Legs Syndrome added another component to my musings about wanderlust in general. Johns Hopkins University neurologist, Christopher Earley, mentions low levels of iron in RLS sufferers, and suggests that one way the brain tries to remedy that is to have you run around hunting a source of iron. Mmmm, Mammothburger! He also points out that a large number of RLS patients seem to be of Scandinavian descent, and jokes "What could possibly possess a bunch of guys to get in a boat in the middle of winter and row across the Atlantic," he says, "other than a bad case of restless legs!"

Whilst investigating Attention Deficit Disorder (or whatever it's called now), I found a very useful book by Edward M. Hallowell, called Driven to Distraction, that offered up some very doable solutions for people who have trouble staying on task. OHIO has worked wonders for me regarding messy piles of paperwork: Only Handle It Once. That is, start sorting through the pile by looking at each piece of paper and decide then and there what to do with it. Either throw it away or file it, but do either one right now, instead of making more piles to look at later, because we all know, later never comes. At some point in the book, Hallowell proposes that perhaps the reason ADD is so common in the U.S. is because the genes were stacked from the start (never mind the barrell-loads of Coca-Cola we drink here these days). So by nature, those who wandered over here to begin with had an incessant drive to push forward and beyond what they had already found. I laughed at first over the sweeping generalization, but after a while I decided he may have a point. 

Archaeologists also offer evidence of the human need to cover great distances quickly, as Nicholas Bakalar writes in his article How Europeans got to Europe, in the April (?) edition of Discover Magazine. He quotes University of Colorado Archaeologist, John Hoffecker, as stating "One of the things you see when modern humans show up is a big leap in the distances over which materials move". Amen to that.

It took me way too long to write this and my legs have been all bent up under me for longer than I care to admit. Time to get moving! I used to wonder why I'd rather pull out my own fingernails one by one than sit though a day at school, office workday, baby/wedding shower, party, church service, etc.. So I cut myself a break, made the peace with my restlessness and started training for A2A each year! 

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