Friday, October 28, 2016

Books review: Ken Cooper

As I hinted earlier, I've had the privilege to re-read some books I read earlier of Ken Cooper's--they were in my mother's library, written in the late 1960s/early 1970s (showing every day of their age with acid paper), and they had a great deal of responsibility in starting the "Aerobics" craze of the 1970s.  Knowing their age, how do they hold up?

Answer: very well, just like another old book I've reviewed, The Boy's Book of StrengthAnd of course, it was also my step-father's basement.  Cooper does wonderful work in noting that strength is not equal to fitness, and moreover that it matters how intense the workout is.  More or less, if you can keep a six minute mile pace--ten miles per hour--you can get your 30 "points" in the Cooper system by running five miles in half an hour.  For the "mere mortals" among us, of course, a bit more time, not to mention distance, is required.

Calisthenics and isometrics?  Yes, they're fun, and yes, they develop strength, but they're not fitness--just ask those huge guys throwing out their backs playing in a "beer league" softball game.  No?  I noted a long time ago that the guys who got hurt most in that "sport" were....sorry...the bodybuilders.

Two things that come across as very strange to modern ears, in my view, are that even the Armed Forces (especially the Air Force that Cooper served) did not do a good job keeping people fit for service, and that he addresses smoking in terms of "lack of lung power" instead of as a cause for lung cancer.

But that's not too bad, really, as losing a lung to cancer (like John Wayne) does impact lung power, and I'd have to guess that a lot of names appear on the Vietnam Memorial due to a lack of fitness.  Scary, really. 

What's scarier yet, though, is that according to this article, Cooper has had to struggle through life to be heard, and as late as 1986, the power of preventative medicine was still debated.  Forty years after The Boys' Book of Strength, and decades after our sad lessons in World War Two and Korea, and after sad lessons in Vietnam, people still didn't clue in that aerobic fitness was a good deal.  Very strange, really.

So take a look at "squaring the curve" of aging a la our brother in Christ Ken Cooper.  Just like someone you know who delayed his need to take drugs for blood pressure by a decade with fitness, you can increase your odds of vigorous health to within a short period of when God takes you home.

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