Free Will: Is It Real Life? Is It Just Fantasy?

It’s been in the back of my mind to write this post for a while, but I had been putting it off. But as I was walking out of the gym the other day thinking about my class choreography, I realized how relevant this topic is to so many things, so it’s time for it. I was thinking about the strength training class I teach and how much I love the section where we work back (deadlifts, rows, flyes, etc.). It has become my favorite section of that class, in large part because I always play a Journey song. Then I began to realize how that has helped me—no, caused me—to enjoy Journey more (not that I didn’t enjoy them before, but I’ve been getting into them much more since I started teaching this format), and also how I really started to enjoy the bcak section more once I began to make a big deal about making it my thing to always use Journey. In short, I had profound yet mundane epiphany: did I choose to start liking back moves (or Journey) more? Or was this increased fondness somehow destined by my previous actions and decisions? Continue reading

Physical Fitness for Psychical Fitness: The Mental Benefits of Exercise

Age-related cognitive decline is pretty much inevitable, especially now that people are generally living longer. While this decline in fluid intelligence (e.g., reasoning abilities) is complemented by an increase in crystallized intelligence (e.g., factual knowledge) (see figure below), fluid intelligence helps us deal with many aspects of our daily lives (such as processing new information and solving problems), so it’s worth preventing its decline as much as possible. Thankfully, there are ways to do this. Continual learning and mental engagement (i.e., effortful mental engagement, not simple passive learning) is an excellent way to keep one’s mind sharp. But, perhaps one of the best ways is by doing something that also benefits us in other ways: exercise. Continue reading