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What Will Exercise Routines Be Like in a Hundred Years?

A new fitness fad comes along every decade or so. There were gentle stretching exercises for ladies in the 1910s, twist dances in the 1950s, aerobics videos in the 1980s, and Zumba classes in the 2010s. (If you haven’t seen it already, this video shows 100 years of fitness in 100 seconds).

A hundred years ago, exercise was built into everyone’s day. The vast majority of people didn’t own cars or many other modern conveniences back then. They walked or rode a horse into town, chopped wood, scrubbed their clothing by hand, planted, weeded, and then harvested their crops, preserved food, repaired their wagons and tools, carried buckets of water to the plants and animals under their care, and did many other physically demanding chores from morning until evening.

The First Half of My Prediction

As fossil fuels become far more rare and expensive, humans will start adding some of these activities back into their daily lives in order to save money. Walking a couple of miles to a nearby destination only costs as much extra food as it will take to fill your stomach once you need to eat again. While this has already been a common thing here in Toronto for many years, I see it becoming much more socially acceptable to walk to all kinds of places in suburban and rural communities, too, in the coming years.

Eventually the price of driving to all of those locations is going to be too high to do anything else on a regular basis. As grocery store costs rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if it also became more common for people who own a patch of unused land to start growing and preserving some of their own food again as well.

Exercise will no longer be about purposefully lifting weights or setting aside half an hour a day to break a sweat. People will naturally need to do these things during their daily routine in order to save money or maybe even to survive in general. This is going to change everything from what folks do for fun to how far away from their jobs or schools they’ll be willing to live.

I wouldn’t be surprised if tele-commuting became almost universally available for students and workers alike, especially for those who aren’t able to live closer to town for any number of reasons. Why physically go into school or the office if you can get all of the same information online while saving valuable money and time on the commute?

The Second Half of My Prediction

The other thing I see happening with exercise in the future is it becoming much more technologically-aware. We have just entered the age of digital fitness trackers, and I only see them becoming more important in the future for many different reasons.

Imagine students who are enrolled in online schools getting credit for gym class while they’re digging potatoes out of the garden or wiping off the solar panels next to their house. Some kids would respond much better to this than they would to playing the kinds of team sports that are generally shown as examples of staying active. I know that I would have been much more interested in gym class had I been shown a wider range of ways to stay fit and then been allowed to pick a few that interested me the most. There’s nothing wrong with liking football or basketball, but there are so many other forms of exercise out there!

Think about how much information your family doctor could get about your health if he or she was able to see an average of how many minutes of exercise you’ve gotten per day for the last year as well. Maybe he or she could also see your blood sugar levels, blood pressure numbers, and resting and active heart rates, too. I’ve known people whose blood pressure rises dramatically whenever they have it checked at the doctor’s office because they get so anxious around people in the medical profession. These sorts of changes to the way health data is collected could give doctors a much more accurate picture of how their patients are really doing.

Insurance companies could give discounts to people who agreed to share their activity levels or who showed a steady increase in the number of minutes of exercise they did every week as well. While I would never agree with forcing people to share this kind of information in order to qualify for insurance coverage, it could be a nice incentive for folks who want to save a little cash and begin some healthier habits at the same time.

Will some of these predictions come true far sooner than 2117? I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, to be honest. It will be interesting to see how technology and exercise continue to develop over the next few decades. Only time will tell if I’m right about some, all, or none of the societal changes I think are on their way.

Suggestion Saturday: February 25, 2017

Here is this week’s list of stuff from my favourite corners of the web.

Counting Steps to Increase Physical Activity. Is everyone staying active this winter? I use a program similar to this one, and it’s been effective for me.

Orthorexia Nervosa “Unhealthy” Healthy Obsession via Charmsthefoodie. This is a self-test for an eating disorder called Orthorexia. While it wasn’t included in the DSM-5, I’m hoping it will be included in the future.

34 Books by Women of Color to Read This Year. I love these kinds of lists.

How Writing Poetry Every Day Made Me More Patient and Emotionally Resilient via businessinrhyme. I’d especially recommend this link to those of you who are poets.

Fantasy Novel Title Generator. This might work well for pet names, too. “Hero, Dragon, and Child” could be a book or a trio of mischievous cats that you’ve just adopted from the local animal shelter.

Motivating Factors in My Life via WomenWriters. What life was like for this writer who was stuck in a bad marriage in the 1960s.

From Helpful Tips for Biphobics:

Being biphobic is currently a popular sport for many, and does appear at first glance to be a simple task. However, it’s not as easy as it may seem, so I’ve compiled this list to help you be aware of the many pitfalls you might encounter.

First, it’s important to understand that as much as the intent of your biphobia may be to hurt bisexuals, you may be inadvertently helping them.

What have you been reading?

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5 More Modern Scifi Books You Should Be Reading

Last month I recommended five modern science fiction books that I really enjoyed to my readers. Today I decided to write a follow-up post so that I can recommend even more great reads to you! Who knows? Maybe this will become a series on this blog. We will see what happens in the future.

The Passage by Justin Cronin.

What is it about?

A virus turns humans into vampires so quickly that our species is now on the brink of extinction.

An FBI agent suddenly finds himself in charge of keeping an abandoned child safe in a world where no child is safe anymore.

Humanity must adjust to this new world, so the rest of the plot is about how that happens over a long period of time and what happens when the precautions people take to protect themselves begin to fail.

Why should you read it?

This is one of the most suspenseful and action-packed books I’ve read in a long time. Dividing it up into sections that told different pieces of the same story was a good idea. In some ways, it was sort of like three novellas set in the same universe one because each section was focused on such a specific part of the storyline.

One of the other things I appreciated about it was that the vampires weren’t misunderstood, secretly romantic, or anyone’s boyfriend. They were violent, dangerous, ugly, and menacing. This black-and-white approach to the genre was refreshing. I really like it when monsters act like monsters.

Oryx and Crake  by Margaret Atwood

What is it about?

It’s a dystopia set in the near future. Jimmy, a man who thinks he’s the last living human on earth, is grieving the loss of his friends Oryx and Crake.

His only companions are the Children of Crake, a small group of genetically-modified, human-like creatures who are about as intelligent as the average 7-year-old child. They think of him as a messenger from their creator and obey his every command.

The plot thickens when Jimmy runs into his old friends and realizes that he isn’t alone after all.

This is the first book in her MaddAddam trilogy. If you like it, the next two books in the series are just as excellent.

Why should you read it?

The first thing that drew me into the plot were all of the flashbacks to life right before society collapsed. Your social class determines everything from what kind of school you’re allowed to attend to how much food you have to whether or not you survive in this society. It is a very rigid system that’s basically impossible to escape.

The Children of Crake weren’t the only genetically modified creatures in this universe. In fact, they weren’t even the most interesting ones!

I also enjoyed the storytelling. This is something I’d especially recommend to anyone who has read a lot of science fiction or who is already a fan of Margaret Atwood’s writing in general. She plays around with this genre in some pretty spectacular ways.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie 

What is it about?

This is a collection of interviews done with people of all ages and backgrounds who survived the zombie apocalypse many years after humanity more or less won the war.

Patient Zero’s experiences are included early on. Most zombie fiction doesn’t bother showing where the virus comes from or how it started to spread, so I was fascinated by this section.

Another interview is with a feral child who somehow escaped being attacked and then survived alone in the woods for years before finally being rescued. Despite being much older now, this witness will always remain a small child as far as their mental understanding of the world goes.

There is also a dog who was trained to fight the zombies as part of a military strike against them. That interview was obviously done with one of the humans who worked with the dog, of course, but it was fascinating to see how such a partnership was created and why it functioned so well.

Why should you read it?

Regardless of whether you hated or loved the movie that shares the same name, this book is nothing like that film. The only thing they share in common is their title.

I loved the interviews because they covered the civilian, military, and medical sides to the story. Some characters saw and fought multiple zombies. Others had more sheltered experiences because of the nature of the work they did or where they happened to be when the outbreak began.

This reminded me of the oral histories I’ve read about real historical events. One person’s perspective can’t tell you the whole story, but you’ll learn a lot about what happened and what was possibly a myth or a misunderstanding if you interview many people and compare their memories.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

What is it about?

The title gives away much of the plot. Harry August is a man who keeps living the same lifetime over and over again.

No matter what he does or where he goes, every death that finds him only brings him back to the day of his birth.

This isn’t to say that every single lifetime of his is exactly the same, though. He makes different choices every time that lead to happier (or sadder!) outcomes later on in life.

Why should you read it?

Reincarnation is fascinating.

I’m also intrigued by the idea of reliving your life in order to correct mistakes that you made in it. Would things be better or worse if you hypothetically took back those cruel words you spat at someone, or never travelled to the place where that awful thing happened, or ordered a salad instead of the shrimp special on your twenty-third birthday that gave you life-threatening food poisoning the last time around?

11/22/63 by Stephen King

What is it about?

A high school English teacher named Jake who travels back through time to attempt to stop the assassination of President Kennedy.

Like The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, trying the change the past is much harder than it looks. Every time Jake changes one thing, the universe does its best to thwart him and restore time to the way it originally was.

Why should you check it out?

This isn’t your typical Stephen King tale. There are no monsters, demons, or gory plot twists. As much as I occasionally enjoy his pulpier work, this is a wonderfully mature and complex story that I’d recommend to people regardless of whether or not they’re already a fan of this author’s writing style.

This is one of those rare cases where I’d recommended watching the TV show by the same name just as much as I’d recommended reading it.

Is it cheating to admit that I’m not entirely sure I finished the book when I tried it a few years ago?  It’s been so long ago that I can’t remember for sure, but I love the TV show so much that I’m now planning to give the original story another try. Sometimes it takes me a few tries to read all the way through a full-length novel, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

This is the kind of story that excels on the small screen because of how much it depends on small details. In this case, visualizing those little details was much easier for me to do by watching it unfold one episode at a time. You may want to try both and see which one appeals to you most.

Happy reading!

How to Survive a Post-Apocalyptic Storyline

Congratulations!

You’ve just been selected to be one of the secondary characters in an upcoming post-apocalyptic novel.

If you wish to die nobly in order to spur the main character on at a critical moment in the plot, please disregard the rest of this message. There is always a need for volunteers for this position, and so your sacrifice in this manner will be greatly appreciated by everyone who expects this kind of tearjerking moment in a world without any modern conveniences.

If you want to live, memorize these rules and be sure to follow them religiously once the first scene has begun. They won’t guarantee your survival, but they will greatly increase the odds of it.

  1. Ignore the news and the government. There has never been one single instance of a government body or a news organization having any clue what is really going on in an apocalypse. Do not listen to any advice they give, and avoid traveling to any safe area they recommend in the first few scenes. It will be a trap.
  2. If the protagonist travels east, head west. While this isn’t always something that’s possible to accomplish, staying out of the way as much as possible is the safest thing you can do until or unless you are promoted to a main character role. Every big battle will take place wherever the main character roams, so you will reduce your chances of getting caught up in one if you travel anywhere other than those locations. This rule can be broken during the climax if other secondary characters have already been killed off and if you are willing to take the risk that the author still has some tricks up his or her sleeve.
  3. Do not endear yourself to the audience. You will feel tempted at times to play up the best parts of your personality in order to lure some of the audience’s attention from the main characters, but encouraging them to love you will only increase the odds of you succumbing to whoever or whatever it is in the storyline that has killed off so many other people before you. This is especially true if you are young, vulnerable, or happen to remind the protagonist of a loved one that he or she left behind in the beginning of the story.
  4. Avoid playing the hero. If you know your safe house is surrounded by monsters, avoid any foolhardy attempts to sneak past them regardless of who in your party might be in dire need of medicine, food, or water in that scene. There is only one hero in this story, and any attempts to steal that spotlight will be interpreted by the writer as foreshadowing for your eventual death. Stay in the shadows and away from the dangers of sudden plot twists as much as possible while the keyboard is still clicking away.
  5. Remain slightly hopeful. Characters who lose all of their hope for the future are in just as much danger as characters who are still obnoxiously cheerful and upbeat after days of hiking through the mud and shivering the night away without a single blanket to keep them warm. Stay neutral when the dialogue is not focused on you and slightly hopeful but still realistic about the odds if you happen to get accidentally caught in the same scene with the main character after the opening act.
  6. Memorize the most common kinds of creatures found in the science fiction and fantasy genres. Elves and faeries are almost always trustworthy. Unicorns are harmless to non-virgin humans. Ghosts may be frightening, but they are rarely a genuine threat to anyone. Orcs, zombies, vampires, and goblins are always dangerous unless you happen to wind up in a rare post-apocalyptic romance novel where a member of their species happens to be the main character’s love interest. Once you know who or what you’re dealing with, you’ll know whether to stick with, tolerate, or avoid any non-human characters that may be lurking in the book.
  7. Listen to your elders. While not every post-apocalyptic story will include an older, wiser character who knows exactly what is going on, be sure to listen to them if they appear at any point in the storyline. The chances of that individual guiding you safely to the final scene are much higher than you might think.  People like this usually appear in the plot for a good reason and should be trusted unless you have an even stronger reason to ignore their sensible advice. In some cases, this can even shorten a full-length novel into a tidy short story with only a small reduction in the overall suspense and excitement of the tale.

With any luck, following all of these rules will help you survive until the final battle. Every character is more or less on their own at that point, so be sure to continue practicing your swordsmanship, long distance running, emergency medical drills, and spell casting until you know exactly what kind of book you will be assigned to and therefore what skills you will need to survive whatever disease, monster, battle, natural disaster, or other source of conflict may be coming your way.