Applying the Use It or Lose It Theory

The Body

Although I have been running quite a bit during this COVID-19 crisis to stay in shape, I rarely push myself to my limits. Last week during one of my runs I was recalling Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns. There was something within this text that I have not been applying at all lately, and that is to push yourself to flight or fright type situations of endurance every 7 to 10 days.

So on Friday I took a drive down to Central Park here in Topeka and ran six 100 meter sprints. I found out a few things.

  • I’m quite slow
  • I wasn’t this slow before
  • Ouch
  • Really? I have to stop at 6?

Should I throw in the towel and never do that again? I like to apply what I’ve learned as much as I can. I’m looking forward to those sprints again at the end of this week or another variation of a track workout that pushes me to an anaerobic state.

The 3rd rule of Mark Sisson’s 10 Rules of Aging Well is to exercise. It is where he mentions the use it or lose it cliche but accurately describes how our behavior sends the same signals to the cells in your brain, muscles, and bones. Sitting around all day will let these cells know that you don’t need them.

The Mind

If you put “use it or lose it” into your favorite search engine, you will find that several top hits will be about how those with an “active cognitive lifestyle” will be less likely to suffer dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life. Why would one need to find out about this correlation before acting on it? Doesn’t that sound like something you want to have anyway: an “active cognitive lifestyle”?

The fact is that most of you are leading a passive cognitive lifestyle, especially during your leisure time. My good friend Jonathan wrote about it best in his blog post Reclaim Your Free Time with Active Leisure last Friday. “It’s progress – not endless relaxation – that creates happiness,” he admonishes.

There are numerous ways you can achieve an active cognitive lifestyle. Instead of sitting in front of the television, why don’t you join me in one of the following?

  • Solve problems on The Riddler, or Project Euler. (Here is my solution to the 04/10/2020 Riddle)
  • Practice learning a language on Duolingo. (I’m currently on a 429 day streak with 54406 points distributed among Norwegian, Spanish, German, and French).
  • Learn how to play the guitar using
  • Read/listen to a book
  • Sign up to get extra certification in your career and get studying (currently I’m working and studying Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice modules as the last big step before becoming an Associate in the Society of Actuaries)

Come up with your own list! Get your mind into an active state. Use it! Or don’t – you know the consequences.

Featured photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Applying the Use It or Lose It Theory

  1. Thanks for passing on the “10 Rules of Aging Well!” I’m starting to realize that I’m almost certainly going to continue aging, and I should probably be more proactive about it. 🙂


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