Two Interesting Books

14 12 2010

1) I am currently reading “Body by Science” by Doug McGuff M.D. and John Little.  It’s quite good and well referenced.  The take home message of the book is that a cell’s anaerobic metabolism pathways are not separate to the aerobic metabolism pathways.  ie: The aerobic metabolism is not neglected in short, high intensity exercise.  In fact, to fully utilize and force a positive adaptation to your aerobic capacity you must engage in high intensity training with the aim of exhausting all the four types of muscle fibers within a period of 45 – 90 seconds per exercise.
I particularly like the way the authors have written an Introduction detailing their epistemological approach to their research and I’ve noticed other good books on nutrition and exercise also do this.  It’s great when an author lays out how they approach the research, what they consider to be a good study and a bad study and their opinions on why mistakes were made in the past.  In addition, it gives you the reader a way to understand how the author thinks, to judge the author by to their own professed standards and for you to compare your epistemological standards with theirs.

Body by Science has a good level of scientific discussion (the stuff I like) particularly in the first half of the book.  However some of the studies quoted would require further investigation in my opinion.  I notice that some of the studies in this book use quite small sample sizes.

Generally, it seems to me that many interesting avenues of research in the field of nutrition and fitness are under-researched.  I get the impression that almost all research follows the typical status quo standards and trends of the day.  eg/ It’s much harder to find a good study on low carbohydrate eating compared to say a study comparing the popular high fibre approach to a low fibre diet (but not low carb of course).

I’m far from a fitness nut and I often don’t exercise nearly enough.  But I used to be a very active sportsman as a teenager and I have an interest in the most effective and efficient ways to stay fit and healthy.  This book is somewhat at odds with some of the training programs I’ve been interested in over the last few years such as the Tabata Method, or CrossFit, Yoga and body-weight exercises such as push-ups, squats, chin-ups and handstands.  However overall, I’ve found this book very good.  I’m going to try out the high intensity approach myself and see if I notice a difference.

 

2) Hat tip to Jeffrey Smalls of the Small Thoughts blog for this second interesting book, Milton Stricker’s “Design Through Abstraction, The Wright Source to Art and Architecture“.  It’s available to read for free over the internet.  I haven’t read it yet but will put it in the pile (I have so many interesting books to read).  Here’s a quote I particularly liked:

“The difference between creative people and “normal” individuals is the ability of the former to concentrate, to motivate, and to see through problems.  Creative persons are more concerned with the total picture, a right brain concern, and less interested in small details, a left brain concern.  Creative individuals are impressive people because they realize their full potential and, since they are rarely preoccupied with making an impression, they feel free to create.  Their decisions are determined by their own set of values rather than by the standards of others.  Creativity is both inborn and evolutionary, capable of continual development through dedication, motivation and independent thought.”
The above quote comes from a section of the book where Stricker is pointing out that creativity isn’t a gift from God or similar.  Rather, it’s a human quality that we’re all capable of and that we should all try to develop and that creativity is not dependent on high intelligence.  Very true.
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