Recent research tried to uncover why obese patients admitted for stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular issues tend to do better than leaner peers: https://jagwire.augusta.edu/lab-results-dont-explain.../. As best as can be determined, the fact that we look for it seems to be the determinant. That is, we see risk markers sooner and have bias that people with greater body mass have higher risk, so we identify and treat problems more effectively.
This is an interesting case study on human psychology and how the human mind isn’t very good at understanding gradients or risk. When one group has HIGHER RISK, people round up and round down. Rather than carry the very simple belief that risk exists for everyone, the human mind forgets that one group has risk and insists the other is destined for a cardiac event. Rather than wrangle with risk on a grey scale, we just go “A is in danger; B isn’t in danger.”
How often do we administer EKG on healthy youths? But we know that we could prevent anomalous issues (ie - WPW-fomented death) if we did this very simple and inexpensive screening on everyone. Why don’t we, then? Because we round down, thinking NO RISK, just because risk is lower. Even if we take a pulse and find murmur, we generally won’t take the 15 minutes to do a simple EKG with ostensibly healthy young people. To be fair, it often doesn’t augur ill. But again, that doesn’t equate to NO RISK.
Thus, we are in a constant philosophical battle with others and ourselves over which risks should be tended to, and which should be watched, and which should be ignored, and which should be denied. Clearly, the last one is a bit extreme. But we see it more and more.
I’ve often surmised that any time we see an orthopedic issue arise, it was long in the making. We have a tendency to think, “my hip isn’t bothering me at the present; ergo, it’s TOTALLY FINE.” Then, when pain or overt injury make this line of thought outdated, we tend to think it “came out of NOWHERE.” Lol. Nothing came from nowhere. All things were building, gathering steam, slowly deterministically trodding to a point where we would finally take notice.
There’s an adage that paranoid people are eventually right. Being wrong 999 times out of a thousand doesn’t dissuade them; because their perspective contains chronic suspicion. They’re only emboldened in their paranoia when they get a 1 in a thousand hit. “Aha!”, they cry. “Nailed it.”
In fitness, we have so many tools at our disposal to identify possible problem areas before they turn into an insurmountable storm. Convincing is another story. You have to not just screen for potential harm, you have to convince people that what doesn’t acutely hurt them this second will become part of why they’ll need a knee replacement in 20 years. It’s a tough sell, because, again, the human mind wants to round up and round down. “If I don’t move at all, I don’t notice total body dysfunction,” is sort of the classic American wisdom. Right. But let’s improve your prospects such that you move everything, everywhere, under load, and suffer very little or not at all. Function can be nice. And I’m not saying that sarcastically or with snark.
So I try to change the wording for people. If you don’t look for opportunity, you won’t find it. If you look for opportunity, mostly you will. To me, being consumed with seeking outer faults is a little wasteful. If you’re hellbent on uncovering an error in someone else or somewhere else, you will. It seems to me more payoff can be made from seeking inner areas of opportunity, though. To look inward for possible growth, possible risk reduction, possible ways to flourish never seems wasteful. If we look inward for areas of opportunity to better our mindset and health, we’ll find them. And to look outward for destruction, and judgment, and scorn, we’ll find it too.
So we’re at last confronted with a pretty palpable question:
What do I really want to find?
Look for it, and there’s a good chance you will.
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