Thursday, September 3, 2009

Things are actually quite complicated

This is an interesting looking discussion paper.

Lack of adequate appreciation of physical exercise's complexitiescan pre-empt appropriate design and interpretation in scientific discovery.

I've not read the whole thing, but this statement stood out in the abstract:

Normal physiological processes are dynamic, integrated, periodic, and therefore, it is difficult to define normal physiological function by looking at a single time point or single process in a non-stressed subject.

The paper is challenging this idea of an exercise pill - this concept that a drug could be developed to mimic the beneficial effects of exercise.

The authors object:

The concept of an "exercise pill/exercise mimetic" demonstrates an inadequate appreciation for the complexities in integrating cell, tissue, organ, and systems during both acute disruptions in homeostasis by a single bout of exercise, and longer-term chronic adaptations to different types of exercise such as resistance and endurance.

We are more complex systems - there are lots of interactions going on when we exercise. You cannot separate out single elements and expect to understand the whole.

This may sound complex but I think there is also a simplicity about this. We need to move, to exercise. The movements and the exercise can be simple but the effects on our bodies may be quite complex and indeed may be predicated on complex systemic interrelationships.


jleeger said...

oh ye wise scientists! Bestow upon us your divine wisdom!

I'm happy to see it, but it's so bloody obvious that it seems insipid to have to spell it out "scientifically."

John Sifferman said...

This is definitely interesting stuff to read about, but I agree with Josh. I've seen a lot of research coming out lately confirming what we've always known to be true. The human body is pretty complex... no kidding - we aren't even close to understanding it yet.

Chris is giving us the best advice, the only advice we need to take away from all this health research that keeps coming out - we need to move, to exercise. If your readers follow those simple instructions, the world will be a better place.



Kira said...

It's a step in the right direction, but talking JUST about physiological complexity and ignoring the larger social complexities is just as stupid ...

'Exercise' is as much to do with the complex inter-relationship between psychological, sociological, economic, geographical and political factors as much as it is between physiological ones.