Here’s what’s on the healthspan menu today:
- A cure for distraction, stare at a painting for 3 hours?
- Vain astronauts strength training in space
- The Hadza Tribe: 7X more movement but burn the same number of calories
A cure for distraction, stare at a painting for 3 hours?
Could you stare at a painting for 3 hours straight with no computer, smart phone, or other distractions?
Most people would say, “no,” but for Harvard University students who attend Professor Roberts’ American art history class that’s their first and most dreaded assignment! They are supposed to choose a painting, stare at it for 3 hours, and then write about what they learned or observed.
Why does she make her student’s do this?
Part of it is an effort to help her student’s build more attention and focus, but another reason was to show students that by deeply concentrating on something that you’ll notice things you otherwise would have missed.
Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology, who believes that focus is what 21st century students lack (which I think can be extended to adults as well), says when we don’t focus “… we’re missing stuff that will give us a richer understanding of the world.”
This story is a good reminder that just like we train our bodies to get stronger, we can also train our focus to get better by practicing focus.
Vain astronauts strength training in space
In passing, I had heard how living in space is not great for the human body. However, I was surprised to learn just how damaging it can be on astronauts’ bodies.
Consider the following:
- After 6 months of living on the space station an astronaut can lose up to 10% of their bone mass. It takes 4 years to recover this bone once back on Earth
- Muscle loss can be up to 15% during a mission
This is why astronauts spend 2.5 hours a day, everyday, exercising while living on the International Space Station. Half of the time is strength training and the other half is cardio-focused exercise.
Interestingly, NASA created ARED, Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, which allows them to lift up to 600 lbs of force for doing compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, and bench press.
You can check out this video we made showing astronauts working out in space.
Astronauts living in space are a great example of how detrimental being sedentary in life is for health. Most humans may not live in zero gravity, but we do spend most of our time sitting and not moving enough. So when you can, get out there and move.
The Hadza Tribe: 7X more movement but burn the same number of calories
If you’re trying to cardio your way to health, maybe you should think twice.
The Hazda are badass hunter gatherer’s living in northern Tanzania that haven’t been corrupted by modern society.
They get more physical activity in a day than most Americans get in a week.
Surprisingly, once you account for body size, they actually burn less calories than their American counterparts.
Through isolation, the Hazda have changed little in terms of tradition and active lifestyle in ten thousand years
Despite their lifestyle but low calorie burn rate, the Hadza experience almost no autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes and other chronic health issues.
Dr. Herman Pontzer revealed 3 theories on why they burn less than western cultures:
- Their diet and activity levels lead to lower levels of inflammation so their immune systems use less energy
- Their culture has less chronic stress, which otherwise can lead to more calories being burned
- Their reproductive hormones are lower, which leads to lower energy upkeep
It’s your holistic approach to life, stress and diet that contribute to your weight and healthspan, not just burning calories.