Friday, March 6, 2009

Physical Fitness vs Mental Fitness

Alternet has once again kindly provided me with some blogging fodder. Author Suzie Orbach, in the article We Are in the Midst of a Cultural Explosion Tied to 'Improving' the Body, stated that:

A new rhetoric of detox, weight training, brushing, irrigation and cleansing has arisen, and along with it the idea that the body can be perfected.

My response to this article follows below:

Physical Fitness vs. Mental Fitness

Everywhere we go these days, the media bombards us with admonishments to improve our physical fitness. There are rants against the overweight, being couch potatoes, and so on, that take the tone of moral indignity not unlike that of a fundamentalist preacher railing against sinners going to hell. If you are fat, sedentary, or otherwise not going for the burn, you are a Bad Person, regardless of whatever other good you may be doing in life.

Oddly enough, however, there is no similar hue and cry about the declining level of mental fitness in our country; at least, not anywhere near the level of hand-wringing that goes on about physical fitness.

You can't go through a supermarket checkout line without seeing tabloids and magazines ragging on the physically unfit on a weekly basis. But you never see headlines about the dumbing down of our schools, the decline of science education during the Bush years, the decline of reading for pleasure, and so on.

While eating right and regular moderate exercise are both good things worth pursuing, they are not moral issues and they are most certainly not more important than maintaining one's mental fitness. The brain, like the body, also is a "use it or lose it" kind of a deal.

After eight years of a dimwitted president and a decline in education, it's time that mental fitness was put back on the front burner again. While people can get by with a moderate level of physical fitness -- not everyone needs to train to the level of a triathlete -- there's no such thing as too much mental fitness.

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