Fitness for Geeks by Bruce W. Perry
$22.85 from Amazon
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, but I was in the mood for something different after all the web programming books I’ve been reading lately. As I start feeling the aches and pains of old age (I turned 32 this year), I’m also becoming more aware of the need to start taking care of my body.
The first chapter of this book is essentially an argument for living more like our ancestors: spend more time outdoors, be more physical, eat less processed food. Chapter two starts out the geeky stuff: toys! Here we see assorted gadgets that you can use for tracking your exercise, sleep habits, and more. Rather than take someone’s word for what you should do to get a good night’s sleep, for example, you can actually pick up a device to measure how well you’re sleeping.
Chapters three and four talk about food chemistry: micronutrients, proteins, fats, carbs, etc. It’s good information, but I honestly found these chapters a bit boring – there’s a lot of “vitamin C does this, vitamin D does that.” Chemistry geeks, on the other hand, should love it.
In chapter five, we finally get to recommendations for how you can improve your eating habits. This ranges from advice like “eat local” to instructions on reading food labels and how to eat healthy without spending a lot of money. Naturally, apps that can help you make healthier eating choices are mentioned as well.
Chapter six talks about fasting for health. Now personally, I hate being hungry (I believe in early lunches!), but the intermittent fasting described in the book isn’t that bad – it’s a partial day fast that can essentially be not eating between dinner and lunch. Since I rarely have time for breakfast anyway, for me this just means giving up on snacks and only drinking water before lunchtime. According to the author, fasting causes insulin levels to do down, which reduces fat storage. (Obviously, diabetics already know to be careful about this sort of thing!) More extreme fasts are also discussed, such as the 20/4 fast (eat as much as you want for four hours a day, fast the other 20) and 24-hour fasts. The nice thing about these fasts is that you still eat as much as you want to eat, you just restrict your eating to certain times of the day.
As a computer geek, I mostly see the outdoors through my office window (or I did, anyway, before I got moved to a different office!) Chapter seven discusses our need for sunlight, as well as a number of exercises that can best be done outdoors. It also covers ways to use GPS to track your exercise. I’ve been meaning to get into weightlifting, so I was pretty interested in chapter eight, about things you can do at a gym. Aside from basic exercises and equipment, it covers notation for weightlifting, and assorted sites and apps you can use to track and organize your workout.
Chapter nine covers varying your workout and keeping it interesting, as well as the need for sleep. We all know about the importance of REM sleep, but do you know the role that melatonin plays in your health, and how it’s affected by your sleep habits. Once you’ve read this chapter, you will. Chapter ten covers a variety of other topics for keeping your body working well: adequate hydration (and how to check it), nutritional supplements, etc. The theme continues in chapter eleven, which covers things like the health benefits of a cold shower and a sports massage.
One oddity is that, although the text refers to colors in the pictures, the book isn’t really printed in color – it’s black and red with black and white photos. In order see see the full color version, you’ll need to pick up the ebook. Still, except for a few charts where you can’t really read the information in the printed version, it doesn’t make a big difference. Overall, except for chapters three and four, I enjoyed reading this book.
Disclosure: I recieved a free review copy of this book.