Fitness vs. Fatness: Biology and Pottermore

As much as I complain about having picked the wrong major in college, I am actually quite interested in biology; I just don’t want to stay in the field forever. Ironically, working in the field has made it very difficult for me to talk about the subject. Nothing wrecks your academic self esteem like working with 10+ PhD’s. Still, it doesn’t keep me from thinking about the stuff, as you will soon find out.

I had a granola bar when I got back from work and drank a few cups of water. Today’s running strategy was to plan on doing it from the moment I got up. Regardless of how tired I was, I backed myself into a corner and committed from the get go. After taking my usual digestion break for 30 minutes, I took off for the monuments again.

About a mile into my run, I started to think about one of the many irritating things about running: the simultaneous feeling that you need to drink and need to pee. The earlier in the run that these feelings come on, the more irritating they are. This cruel contradiction got me thinking, the thinking gave me an excuse to discuss biology, and this blog gave me an outlet for that discussion.

My favorite things about biology are the clever little evolutionary tricks that our bodies have worked out. They’re elegant, simple, and effective. Take exercise as an example. When we start to run, our muscles start churning through oxygen to produce energy. The more oxygen they use, the more blood they need to deliver oxygen. As anyone who has worked out knows, your heart rate increases when you begin exercising. Obviously, this is to get more blood to the muscles. The better shape you get into, the stronger your heart gets, and the more blood it can pump with each beat (the amount of blood being pumped is called stroke volume. Get the giggles out now). As your heart becomes able to pump more blood per beat, your heart rate decreases. This is why people like Lance Armstrong have insanely low heart rates (Please note that this only applies to cardio). The longer your heart has between beats, the more time it has to fill with blood, and even more blood gets pumped per beat. Essentially, this is why working out is awesome.

Don't worry, I don't expect anyone to actually look at this.

I personally think this system is an extremely cool positive feedback loop. What I find even cooler is that the act of running, or any cardio-type exercise really, directly affects the amount of blood being pumped. The repetitive contraction and relaxation of your muscles puts pressure on your blood vessels and literally acts as a pump, moving more blood through the system, and getting more oxygen to your muscles. Cool!

There’s also a really terrible bit of biology involving high blood pressure and how getting it starts a downward spiral where your heart works harder, things gets screwed up, and blood pressure needs to be increased even more to maintain blood flow. It’s the reason I freaked out when I found out my blood pressure was high and obsessed over it until I got it down. The bottom line is that you seriously want to keep your heart in good shape.

Anyway, this is all a very roundabout way of saying that the same repetitive muscle movements that pump extra blood also have a tendency to put pressure on the sensory system around your bladder, which gives the sensation of having to pee. At the same time, your body is heating up, losing water, and trying to tell you to drink. So that’s why that little annoying thing happens. Looks like I could have just explained that in two sentences instead of 3 paragraphs.

Now that I’ve finally broken out of my winter/spring workout funk, I’m happy to say that I’m seeing improvements again. Despite my little annoyance with the run today, I felt a whole lot better than I have in other runs recently. It’s always nice when you feel motivated, workout, and find that working out is getting easier; it makes you avoid it a lot less. Another positive feedback loop, yay!

Finally, I need to speak for a moment regarding Pottermore. As you all know, I’m a raging HP fan. I haven’t met anything HP that I didn’t like, except for the new Dumbledore. Even he got better in the Half Blood Prince at least. With that said, I’m cautiously optimistic about this Pottermore business. Personally, if it wasn’t going to be a new book, I was hoping for a MMORPG. I know that there’s supposed to be “game” elements involved in this, but ever since Angry Birds flung itself into pop culture, I’ve lost respect for the term. I sincerely hope that there are engaging interactive elements though; lord knows that I want to be as involved in the HP world as possible.

What is the meaning of this?!

Personally, I can see the whole thing one of two ways. The timing of the announcement makes me a little suspicious. With the final movie coming out, I’m worried that someone decided that they needed to hurry up and find another way to cash in; however, I seriously doubt that JK needs any more money. I hope that the goal really is to extend the HP experience for all those who are getting depressed that our childhoods are dying, not just to sell ebooks.

Finally, although I would have preferred a printed encyclopedia from JK, I am extremely stoked about her releasing information about the HP universe through Pottermore. It would be a serious bummer to think that we already know everything we ever will about the universe. So in closing, I am at once suspicious, curious, confused, and extremely excited about the whole thing. Now if you will excuse me, tomorrow is Friday and I need to wake up at 5:30. Good evening!

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