New York Times Magazine

Is AGNES In Your Future?

The first time I saw AGNES was in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, February 6, 2011. I put the article aside knowing that I would write a blog post about it someday. But I got busy writing other posts.  This past weekend AGNES made another appearance, this time in the Life & Arts section of the Financial Times, so I figured that it was time for AGNES to make her debut at You As A Machine.

AGNES is an acronym for Age Gain Now Empathy System, a suit, which was designed to imitate the physical restrictions and challenges associated with ageing.  Just looking at the photographs showing the author of the Financial Times article, James Crabtree’s transformation from his healthy, upright 34 year old frame to what AGNES does to him. Yikes! http://on.ft.com/ozv36Z If nothing else, just click on this link to see the photos.

In the AGNES suit James Crabtree looks so uncomfortable.  And that is entirely the point.  The researchers at MIT AgeLab, designed AGNES as a “tool to help businesses adapt their products for elderly consumers.”  Joseph Coughlin, the founder of the AgeLab believes, that as an ageing population we are in a crisis.  We can’t expect technology to save us in our old age. In other words, keep moving, stay active and flexible. He and Dr. Neil Resnick, chief of the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Pittsburg (in the YouTube clip I’ve attached), broach the subject of Younger Next Year’s research: That ageing begins at thirty and if we aren’t careful it can lead to rapid decay as opposed to healthy, natural ageing.

I was amazed when I first saw the photographs of AGNES and what the suit mimicked. Those images were motivation enough to keep me on track.

Let’s keep AGNES off our backs!

Which Workout Works?

The Tulip Stairs and lantern at the Queen's Ho...

Which Workout Works?

Rodan sent in this great article from last weekends’ The New York Times Magazine.  It is worth reading.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17exercise-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&ref=general&src=me

The article asks a range of exercise and sport physiologists to choose THE single best exercise.

Interestingly and really, not surprisingly the physiologists have very different views.

The short version is that all exercise has merit.  However, a strong argument is made for the overall effectiveness of interval training.  Short-Duration, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) is great for the time challenged.

The article goes on to say, that yes, “to be effective, HIT must hurt”.  I don’t want this to scare anyone off.  Everyone has a starting point.  Marching on the spot might ‘hurt’ for the absolute sedentary; ‘hurt’ is subjective.  What do they mean by hurt anyway? What I think they mean by ‘hurt’ is discomfort.  It means working hard and passing through the comfort zone to the point where you want to stop, but forcing yourself to finish the repetitions until the interval is over.  This is NOT to be confused with pushing through pain and losing technique just to score high repetitions.  There is a distinct difference between the discomfort caused by muscle fatigue and the pain caused from injury.

When we are consistent with exercise, our body naturally adapts and our ability to take on more increases.

It seems that what hurts the most is digging up the discipline to be consistent with exercising everyday.

Once you make the decision to try something different, I have got a little experiment for you: the stairs.  We all have to climb them and, like at the end of the article, one physiologist sings the praises of “running up steps”.

Find a staircase with approximately twelve steps.  But any number will do.

Make sure the staircase is straight and sturdy (no spirals), has a handrail and is not too steep.  Remember to go at a safe and comfortable pace. You may only climb the stairs once today, twice tomorrow and so on.  Listen to your body.

First, think about your body mechanics as you are climbing the steps.  Remember your feet and the arches.  Now go up the steps at a slow to moderate pace.  Trot back down.  Now go up the steps a little faster.  Trot back down.  Do this four more times.  Regardless of speed, the heart rate and body temperature will rise and breathing will quicken.

When finished, walk around until the heart rate and breathing slows down to normal.  Try it once a day for a week.

Leave me a comment.  I love hearing about your progress.