Chapters 8 & 9

I enjoyed the anecdote about Ancel Keys at the beginning of Chapter 8 — it is amazing how much one person can accomplish and Keys certainly did not take life for granted. I like the approach he took in life, especially in his physical activity practices. When you first read that somebody is “very active,” you are probably going to assume that the person runs a lot or plays a certain sport often, but I never considered it from Keys’ perspective. Staying active in the service of interests, such as traveling or gardening, is a way in which I think many people who consider themselves “inactive,” would thrive, both physically and mentally.

The fact that the Terman participants were the first to ever have their physical activity measured from childhood through death seemed fascinating to me. I did not find it very surprising that their findings revealed that we should not rely on generalizations. It makes sense to me that every person has different physical activity interests and routines. I also think that genetics play a big role in the physical development of a person, so enforcing “rigorous exercise” among everyone will likely not work to the same effect on every participant. I still can’t believe the average person will spend roughly 900 days jogging, and as an active runner, reading this really made me think about how much time I have spent running so far in my life.

Although it has been mentioned before in the book, the fact that practices we assume are associated with good health and a long life are not always the causes of a healthy life is something I think many people would be shocked to learn. I have heard stories about people who are in the healthiest and most active stage of their lives and still get heart diseases, which I guess is a prime example of this idea that the link between physical activity and better health begins to deteriorate at a certain point in time. I appreciate the advice the authors provide and I feel as though I would recommend the same thing to somebody struggling to make themselves go to the gym. Exercise can be done in an endless amount of ways and even someone is simply spending a day at the mall, he/she is achieving both mental and physical goals at the same time.

Coming from a Colombian family, I have learned just how uncommon divorces are in Latin America. I feel as though I have grown up being told that if you get married, you will live longer. Although I do hope to get married one day, it is comforting to know that there is no scientific evidence proving this theory of marriage being connected to a long life. It was interesting to read about the differences among the men and women of the Terman study in the sense of their marital statuses. The case of John, who never even married and still outlived the remarried group, certainly disproves the idea that marriage leads to a longer life.

I admire Dr. Terman’s determination as he eventually developed his own “new marital happiness test.” Although I have never been married, the self-assessment portion of Chapter 9 stressed me out a little as I read it because it reminded me of how much goes into a marriage — in order for it to be healthy, at least. I was not that surprised to read that sexual satisfaction and a happy marriage are good indicators of health, but I did find it surprising that the man’s happiness is what will typically predict the health of the couple’s future, overall. I find this to be pretty sexist and would like to research further about it in the future. Personally, I believe this is something that varies case by case and depends on who the subjects that are being observed are.

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