Human Body 101

The owner's & operator's manual for the rest of us

Somewhere between blissful ignorance and a medical degree, there’s an unofficial working knowledge of the human body that we should each know and live by. Even 'Happy Meal' toys come with instructions, but something as wonderful and complex as the human body..well, it’s getting rewritten everyday.

The systems of our body work in symphony to keep us going day-in and day-out. When we sleep, our heart pumps and our lungs continue to fill with air. If we get hot, it cools itself. If we miss a meal, it grabs stored energy from our fat stores. And if we have to move, there’s energy in the muscles ready to propel us there.

Many people like to equate the human body to a machine, but there’s really little comparison. The body can adapt, heal, and be trained to perform at the levels we push it to. One of the more de-motivating factors of fitness is the lack of immediately noticeable results. It’s like that commercial of the man that steps on the scale, runs around the gym and steps back on the scale again (He then smacks it, as if to say, “what, no change?!”). Your body will adapt to the gradual changes you make by exercising, but it will take time. It takes time for muscles to build, for lungs to expand, and for capillaries to expand capacity to newly used muscles. It takes time for your calorie deficit to start depleting the stores of fat. But all of these things are happening as your fitness plan is being implemented and improved. Be patient – it’s the long-term habits that you want (short-term gains are just an added benefit ;-).

When we think of our most important muscles, we often look to the ones that others can see when we’re in our bathing suits..but I’d propose it’s the one about the size of your fist pumping over 2,000 gallons of blood a day. One of the most convincing reasons to adopt a fitness plan, is the health benefits and reduced risk you’ll attain by having a healthier heart. The heart, like the other muscles in your body, can benefit greatly from exercise and will become stronger as you go.

Another activity that we often overlook is breathing. We don’t seem to be in control of it, so it’s often ‘off the radar screen’. If you ever have a chance to see the exhibit of ‘Body Worlds”, please do. Among other things, you’ll see real lungs : healthy, smokers, and emphasemic. If you’re a smoker, it may be the motivation you need to quit. Picture a strong rubber balloon versus a bag made of dried-out leather – which one do you want carrying the vital oxygen that you need? Just as our diet plays a major role in our health, so does the air we breathe. If you breathe smoke regularly, you’re putting yourself in a situation you’ll likely regret down the road. If you’re trying to quit smoking, join others in the pursuit - you can start by checking out: The American Cancer Society web site (this site has the information and motivation that you need to quit today!).

Related pages:

The Human Heart
Heart Rate Training
Muscle Groups
How Your Muscles Work
Muscle Massage
Reduce Body Fat
Measure Your Resting Heart Rate

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