Disclaimer: While I wouldn’t call this a rant post (nobody likes a rant), I will stand very adamantly against a prevailing idea. It may seem like I utterly hate what’s happening, which is mostly accurate. However, I do feel that context is important when discussing matters such as these. So, in no way am I against the technological miracles that are being invented these days. I think most technology can be used for good things. But as is often the case, technology is misapplied into making life a little easier and killing us a little faster. And I would bet big money (if I had it) that this new technology will be marketed with the purpose of making profits, rather than helping serve true needs.
Watch this… you don’t need to see the whole video to get the idea.
Honda’s Walking Assistance Device Prototype
So, Honda has seen it fit to invent a walking assistance device (WAD). Splendid! After all, walking is such a strenuous activity. And we wouldn’t want to fatigue our leg muscles or injure our joints, would we?
This is just one more step towards my lifelong dream – to invent a HOVER-PAD for personal transportation. I’m already at work with the Honda research and development department, drafting first-run schematics and big-money marketing plans. After all, we wouldn’t want to overstress our hearts by walking – even with walking assistance devices, which can be so demanding on the delicate human frame. One day, billions of people will be grateful that I invented this Hover-Pad that now allows people only to move from laying down in their bed to standing up on the pad. They’ll never experience fatigue again!
But now that I’m thinking about it… all that standing has got to make people feel awfully tired. I know my legs get a little shaky after a few hours. Ah, I know what I’ll do. The HOVER-SEAT will be born! And if it reclines, it could double as a bed! Time to get a patent for that… (anybody seen Wall-E ???)
All kidding aside, Honda has all but declared war on human physicality. To think that the human body is defective and needing mechanical support is ludicrous. Whether you believe your body was created by a divine being or evolved over countless generations, you must admit that it is perfectly suited for this beautiful environment we call Earth.
Now, like I said before in the disclaimer. This technology can be used for good things. I can think of several situations where walking assistance is a great idea. Namely, when walking is not possible without assistance because someone is permanently disabled. In those circumstances, I think this new technology would help improve a lot of lives. But what worries me is that this technology will be marketed to people who have ZERO true need for assistance while walking. Honda may try to convince us that their device will help improve the lives of mailmen, dog walkers, and factory workers. But what is this WAD really going to do for people? I’ll tell you straight.
It’s going to make them dependent. In the short term, it may feel great to relieve your legs with an extra pair of wheels that you can put on in less than 10 seconds. But after a couple of weeks, walking without four legs will be much harder with just two. The body will atrophy. The body will get weaker. That’s right, these fake legs will position themselves as a crutch for you to rest your sedentary lifestyle on. Hopefully, you bought extra batteries for when you’re pressed for time.
Now, it’s not so much that Honda is inventing a WAD that bothers me. It’s the continuous shift in our culture away from our true physical nature. This device is merely a symptom of a greater problem – becoming more disconnected from our physicality.
Most of us no longer walk to work, we drive. Most of us don’t grow or hunt our food, we push them in a cart and carry them from our car to our kitchen. Most of us don’t have physically demanding jobs, we sit behind a desk for the better part of the day. I’m sure if we put our heads together, we could think of hundreds, or even thousands of common instances where modern innovation has resulted in a more sedentary lifestyle. And innovation is not necessarily the problem. Modern innovation is actually one of the best things for humanity. The problem is that we’ve been using innovation to replace our natural reliance on physicality and the exuberance inherited from it.
The human body thrives from being used. In fact, the human body is one of the few “machines” that actually improves directly from use. The popular phrase, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” rings true here. On the flip side, if you DO use it, you’ll get better at using it, healthier because of using it, and more likely to be able to do more because you used it.
Ferrari ain’t got nuthin on mother nature
Imagine owning a car that got better with regular use. If you fed the car good fuel, kept it clean, and pushed its limits regularly (driving really fast or really long, etc.), it actually got faster, stronger, more efficient, and more agile. Did you know that if you use your body correctly, you can increase your biological horsepower? You can even install new cylinders, upgrade your fuel tank, and pimp out your exhaust pipes!
The human body is so amazingly adaptive, that it actually improves from direct (and correct) use, rather than breaking down. If you walk X distance today, you’ll be able to walk more than X distance tomorrow. The same applies to all physical activities. Lift 100 lbs today, and you’ll be able to lift more than 100 lbs tomorrow. Run 5 miles in 40 minutes today, and you’ll be able to do it in 39 minutes tomorrow. It’s true because of the law of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID principle).
You can’t break the law
But the reverse is also true. Walk less today than you did yesterday, and you’ll be able to walk even less tomorrow (maybe not literally after only 1 day, but focus on the concept). Wear a WAD today, and you won’t be able to walk as much without it tomorrow. You can’t defy the SAID law of conditioning.
You see, WAD’s may sound great in the short term, but they aren’t really going to help us.
Just like Chinese food always sounds like a good idea until the next morning (at least American-made Chinese food), and the beer humidifier had high potential until people actually started trying it, WAD’s are no different. They won’t help us in the long-term.
Not to mention the fact that you would be severely limited if you suddenly had to do something other than walk (like catch something that’s falling, run or skip out of the way of a car or bicycle, or lift something heavy off the ground). I can hear them now, “hold on, I gotta take my WAD off before I can lift that. Gimme a sec!” I’m also sure somebody could win a lot of money through our legal system if their WAD battery died while walking on a busy street crosswalk.
And don’t even get me started on the biomechanical consequences of wearing this contraption. They say it will help your joints, but they’re lying – whether they know it or not. I’m sorry, but this device won’t help your joints any more than these shoes will tone your butt and thighs automatically…
So, WAD’s will have all sorts of health consequences and will limit how we are able to function while depending on them. Two negative strikes that are bad enough to warrant a boycott, but certainly not the most profound consequences. This type of technology encourages laziness, ignorance, and a “give up” attitude among other things. I will predict that when these WAD’s hit the markets, droves of people whom are suffering from obesity, lower back pain, hip, knee and ankle problems will flock to purchase them for temporary relief, which will ultimately exasperate their conditions.
So, while Honda is positioning their devices to solve a legitimate problem, they’ll be selling them with the after-effects of promoting laziness and health problems. Just like the peasant who saved the prince’s life, only to have his family later enslaved by the very king whom he saved, Honda will be doing a good thing that has terrible long-term consequences, both measurable and subjective.
But back on point. Our culture is gradually disconnecting us from our physicality. Let me say that another way – our culture is RAPIDLY disconnecting us from our physicality.
So we must ask ourselves: why walk? Or, taken to the extreme: why breathe? Why even live?
It ultimately comes down to this question: why practice our physicality if we’re all going to die eventually?
I don’t know if I have THE answer to this question. But I do have an answer.
Life is a gift. Our bodies are a gift. Even physicality itself is a gift. So, accept it and use it well. We won’t be able to enjoy it forever. You can’t predict or prevent what happens tomorrow, but you can control what happens today, right now. There are some things which we do have control over, like your health and fitness. Making them a priority is honoring the gift of life you’ve been given.
So, when someone asks you, “why do you workout?” or “why do you take the stairs when everyone else is on the escalator,” or any other question relating to why you make your health and fitness a priority, you can tell them that you’re doing it because you love the gift of life. And hopefully, you’ll intrigue them enough to open a door to share why you truly love Physical Living with others.
I’m confident that this message will resonate with my readers because you are part of an elite sub-culture who understands the role that physical living plays in our lives. No, this was not a top 10 list of practical ways to improve your life, but it was something to think about, to ponder what others often ignore or never recognize. The truth is that practical advice doesn’t help us nearly as much as practicing the principles on which they are based. And this is exactly why I like to balance the information I share on Physical Living between a) immediately helpful and practical tips and lifestyle strategies, and b) advice that will help you long-term, regardless of which way you express it.
Unlike the philosopher René Descartes, you know that our bodies are much more than just a vessel to carry our mind and soul around in. You know that physical health is deeply intertwined with our mental and spiritual health. You don’t need to be convinced. You love physicality, and there’s nothing left that needs to be said about that.
So, why do you practice physical living if the end-result is already decided?
To your health and success,
CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT