Common Strength Genes Identified

Common Strength Genes Identified

The University of Cambridge conducted a study identifying the common genetic factors in muscular strength. The data was accumulated from 140,000 subjects, with an additional 50,000 people from the UK, Netherlands, and Australia. The goal was to identify sixteen variants associated with muscular strength. Dan Wright was the author of the academic paper produced out of the Medical Research Council on Epidemiology. Wright’s analysis is that identification of such genes will allow for understanding the biology of muscular strength and relation to health. The variants were either located near or inside genes that play a role in muscular function including muscle fiber function and muscle cell nervous system communication. This reveals much about monogenic syndromes. Single genetic mutations can cause serious health problems. The difference variation among genes may explain why their is various differences in strength levels among populations. Dr. Robert Scott believes such a discovery could be a means of treating muscle weakness or other diseases of the muscular system.

       Hand grip strength was used a measure for identifying genetic variation. This normally is used as a tool for assessing muscular fitness. It has been suggested that weaker hand grip strength is associated with possible bone fracture risk and other health problems in older adults.  Hand grip strength has been linked to certain health outcomes, the correlation in regards to muscular strength in more uncertain.

There is certainly no or limited evidence that having lower strength increases the risk of cardiovascular disease or death. Higher strength did reduce the risk of bone fracture. Strength training was the best method of increasing bone mass as a preventative measure. If hand grip strength were an indication of longevity, then males would be expected to live longer. The truth is that on average men have shorter life expectancy, while having a stronger hand grip.

Male-female-grip-strength-decumulate-and-overlap There are obviously multiple factors that influence health. It is not just sex, but genetics, environment, and quality of healthcare. Diet and lifestyle choices also cam effect a person’s health. It has been speculated that people with greater hand grip strength could possibly recover from surgery. There are multiple genes and environmental factors interacting with one another to produce outcomes. The question still remains which specific factors are the most responsible for particular results. The data gathered had information on demographic, biometric, and health outcome variables.

        The genes related to muscular function include ACTG I, PEX 14, TGFA, and STY1 . ACTG 1 is responsible for muscle fiber structure and function. PEX 14, TGFA, and STY1 are essential for the communication between the nervous system and muscle cells.

Genes are units of DNA required to produce protein. These sections need to code for all amino acids to contribute to protein production. The location of the gene is on the chromosome. There can be several sections of DNA on certain regions coding for only one part of a particular protein. It is not one gene that influences traits, but a combination working together. To understand this, think of your body as a building. The rooms represent your cells. Each room (cell)  has filing cabinets ( chromosomes)   with papers (genes). The people getting access to the papers have to follow the directions written on them ( proteins).

The process is more complex than a simple analogy, which explains why mutations could occur. Not all mutations are harmful. Yet an serious error in a gene could cause health problems or disease. Variations that occur in LRPPRC, PEX 14, and KANS1 can be linked to certain medical conditions of the muscular system. There could be a possibility that there are more genes related to muscular strength.

         Added strength can reduce bone fracture risk. Strength training contribute to the health of the musculoskeletal system. As a person ages they lose both bone and muscle mass. The ossification process of bone changes during a lifetime. bone is broken down and rebuilt by the body. Osteoblasts must work to replace cells in the skeletal system. Osteoporosis and fractures become a health risk as people age due to changes in endocrinology. Sex hormone levels lower causing these changes.  Women who naturally have lower bone density are at risk. Smoking and high alcohol consumption have the ability to increase risk factors.

Race can also play a role. Women who are of European or Asian ancestry have a higher chance of getting osteoporosis. This is more so a representation of population genetics, rather than just   ethnic background. It does not mean every woman of that ethnic group will get it. Certain illness can be avoided with a change in habits. Exercise and a balanced diet can improve the quality of life. When there is a full understanding of genetics this will vastly improve the quality of the biomedical and health sciences. Beyond those two fields, there could be possibilities in terms of sports performance, exercise physiology, This may even have a level of controversy in regards what we should be allowed to do with the human body.

        It is inevitable that such knowledge will contribute to a transhumanist path. Genetic engineering is no longer an idea of science fiction, but scientific fact. If muscular strength could be determined by sixteen genes, it is possible to manipulate these genes to increase human athletic potential. The athlete of the future may be able to acquire super human strength only thought of in superhero comic books . There is the prospect of gene doping as it has been called becoming a problem for the sports world. There has to be to an extent a level of acceptance that performance enhancing drugs or genetic alteration will not disappear. Sports organizations still retain the right to ban whatever substances they choose, but would genetic manipulation still be considered an unfair advantage? If it were to be completely fair in a certain context, athlete’s with a natural advantage would have to be hindered in some way. Other competitors may be at a disadvantage simply, because of their genetics. To an extent training negates this, but it can only close a performance gap so far. There are bioethical questions regarding genetic engineering on humans that must be discussed. Like it or not humanity has reached a point in which it has become master of its own biology and soon its own evolution. The evolution has happened even without the aid of genetic knowledge or technology. Athletes now are bigger and stronger than they were in the past.

Better nutrition and training regimens has contributed to this development. The knowledge of sports science has increased vastly over the past century in terms of physiology and specific exercise sciences.  Discovering these specific genes could allow for more precise training regimens depending on an individual’s physical fitness potential. With new discoveries there is a potential for abuse. Technology and biological discovery do come with a level of risk. However, this is no excuse to remain ignorant about natural phenomena. There is still more to know about genes and cytology. Further exploration will not only help understand the nature of human health, but unraveling the mystery of life.

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Common Strength Genes Identified

The Body Mass Index (BMI)

The body mass index is a calculation value for measuring the amount of body fat and what the weight should be of an individual of a certain height. This has been used to classify whether or not a person has weight related issues such as obesity. This scale has been used for both adults and children. The issue is that it may not be very precise. The measurements do not take into account muscles mass. The attempt at being a scientific measure does not seem as practical. Normally, when a person gains huge amounts of weight health problems become apparent. Aches and pains are present in the joints, because the skeleton has to support more weight than it was intended for. There is also a drastic decrease in cardiovascular fitness. The circulatory system becomes strained and the risk of certain cancers increase with an increase in body weight. The body mass index is not even accurate enough to be used as a diagnostic tool. The BMI is more of a screening tool. It may not even be as useful a screening tool as previously thought. A more precise assessment of weight related issues would involve skin fold thickness measurements, an examination of family history, and evaluations of both diet or physical activity. It is questionable that BMI can even be a measure of health.

           The body mass index at its core is a formula measuring a range of body weight that is considered healthy to a person’s height. The modern  body mass index came into existence in 1998 under the the National Institutes of Health. It was designed to be a general standard to aid doctors, researchers, dietitians, and various government agencies. Prior to this there was not a nation wide standard of determining healthy weight. Since the birth of BMI there has now been one standard.

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bmi-chartThe BMI value can either be metric or English system of measures.  The chart does not fully account for people of different somatotypes. Those with a mesomorphic body could be classified as obese. It should also recognize that women naturally have a higher body fat level no matter what  their weight is. The thinnest or most muscular woman would still carry a higher fat percentage. A woman who is not overweight may fall into the classification. Colette Nelson a female bodybuilder would reach at total of 175 lbs in off season being 65.1  inches tall ( 5 ft 5 in ). Using the equation for the BMI ( English system of measures). Solving this mathematically would be as follows : 175 lbs divided by the square of 65 inches and multiplied by 703. This results in a BMI of 29.11 on the chart placing her in the over weight range. If 0.89 were added to that value with an increase of her weight she would be in the obese range. When looking at pictures of Colette Nelson, it is clear that she does not have a weight problem.

           When she competed it was at a weight of 145 lbs. This would make her BMI at that point 24.13 considered a healthy weight. However, there is no indication she was any less healthy with a higher body mass. Her body is mostly muscle mass and their is no way for the chart to distinguish between fat and muscle. This is not just a problem for women measured on the scale, it also happens to larger men. If we were to do more calculations with women of different somatotypes a similar problem could occur. Women who have ectomorphic body types could be incorrectly classified as underweight. Halley Berry would have a BMI of 20.13 and could fall into the underweight range. As one can see she obviously is not emaciated, just thin.

It would be simple to fluctuate between these designated ranges in the BMI scale. Adding a small amount of weight would not serious harm health. The BMI has many limitations in precision. It does not estimate accurately the total amount of body fat that is present. It does not account for sex differences and sex hormones that have an effect on body composition. A person can have a high BMI, yet not be overweight or obese. Many professional athletes if their BMI was calculated would fall in the overweight range of BMI. It has been suggested that waist circumference may be a better indicator of weight health. The reason why the BMI may be rooted in its origins.

        The origins of the body mass index can be traced back to the 19th century. Adolphe Quetelet developed an index in which weight (kilograms)  was divided by the square of height (in meters). This was known as the Quetelet index  until 1972. Quetelet was by profession by trade a mathematician, astronomer, and statistician. He had a fascination with probability calculus and wanted to apply this to the study of human characteristics. The Belgian scientist then produced the equation in 1832. When this equation was developed, the world was a different place. Corpulence was seen as a sign of good health. This made sense in a time of limited food security. Even with the green revolution of the 20th century, there are still nations that struggle with food security. Prior to this having some fat would have meant survival. It was not until the mid-19th to early 20th century did weight gain began to be seen as a potential health risk. Insurance companies took note of this and developed normal weight tables of their own to determine which policies they should give their customers. Louis Dublin owner of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company was the harbinger in regards to normal weight charts based on a person’s height. This system was not exactly precise either. Weight was divided by a given height into two thirds. Undesired weight was 20% to 25% and the classification for morbid obesity was 70% to 100%. These measure seem arbitrary. Another problem was that these measures were done mostly on Western populations.

   The Polynesian  populations have a larger body structure compared to Europeans. This is a product of genetics, rather than race. The athletes that are from that region do not have health related issues in regards to weight. Yet, past and current weight classifications would state they are unhealthy. This is not true. East African runners may be classified as being under weight. Seeing as they have a high physical activity level it should be assumed that their health is in optimum condition. Such charts and equations do not account for the variation in populations globally. When  Adolphe Quetelet made produced his work he had no intention of using it for understanding obesity or weight related issues. He wanted to see if there was a Gaussian distribution in terms of height and weight. He did encounter issues when doing this with his statistical samples. The equation was developed to contribute to fixing possible errors. During his research he found that body mass increases during puberty height and weight stabilize. The only thin he was documenting was the average rate of growth in stages of the human life cycle. Even if a calculation is done in the metric system a person who is not overweight or obese could fall in that classification. Lenda Murray’s weigh was 74 kg and stands at a height of 1.65 m. Squaring her height and then dividing by the total weight results in a value of 27.2 BMI.

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This again places a person in the overweight range, when they do not have a weight problem. If we were to present this visually it would simple enough to see who has a weight problem. Lenda Murray during her years of competition was clearly at a high physical fitness level .    This does not mean physiognomy should be a measure of health. Women with naturally endomorphic body types would not be at a serious health risk. That would only happen if there was a drastic change in diet or endocrine related illness or disorder. Using charts and equations for weight in which it was not intended for will not give accurate assessments of health.

 The body mass index is not the best method for detecting weight problems. Studies have indicated that overweight individuals have similar or better outcomes compared to normal weight individuals in terms of cardiovascular incidents. There can be alternatives to determining healthy weight.

         The alternatives to BMI  measurement involve examining waistline. A 2012 study done in eight European countries showed that overweight people with large waists were most likely to develop diabetes just like people who were morbidly obese. Then there is the method of using the skinfold. The skinfold method measures body fat in various folds of skin  on the human body. Personal trainers use this method to help clients with particular fitness goals. There also could be more rudimentary measures. The ability to be ambulatory should be a simple marker. When people put on a certain amount of weight walking becomes more difficult. The extremely obese sometimes lose their ability to walk simply because the bones in their legs cannot support it. When weight goes up the skeleton will struggle to maintain support. Bone mass does not increase with the rise of adipose tissue. Stress tests could be given as an indirect way to see if there are potential weight issues. It is clear that everyone’s health condition is different and methods need to be developed to account for that fact.

        Health professionals continue to use BMI when there has been both historical and scientific questions to its accuracy. The body mass index does not thoroughly take into account sex and age in the measurements. As people age they lose muscle mass which can effect health. Older people may have a normal BMI, yet could be losing critical bone and muscular strength. There also has to be consideration for where the weight is gained on the body. If weight is gained in the abdominal or hip areas it can increase certain risk factors. The body mass index at least could be used to measure the probable weight health of a given population. This measure would not be a precise one. If there is an account of athletes who are larger, people who are thinner, or people of endomorphic body types this distorts the data. If this is considered the obesity rates may not be as high as previously thought. It is clear that weight related issues are on the rise globally, but there needs to be an improve method of measures. The best method to prevent or deal with weight related health challenges are the traditional ones : diet, exercise, doctor’s appointments, and controlled eating.

References

Zelman, Kathleen M. “How Accurate Is Body Mass Index, or BMI?” WebMD, WebMD, 5 June 2016, http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/how-accurate-body-mass-index-bmi#1.

Brodwin, Erin. “One of the Most Popular Ways of Telling If You’re a Healthy Weight Is Bogus – Here’s What You Should Do Instead.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 9 Sept. 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com/bmi-is-bogus-best-way-to-tell-if-youre-a-healthy-weight-2016-9.

Eknoyan, Garabed. “Adolphe Quetelet (1796–1874)-the Average Man and Indices of Obesity | Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 22 Sept. 2007, academic.oup.com/ndt/article/23/1/47/1923176.

Team, The MNT Editorial. “BMI (Body Mass Index): What Is BMI?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 5 Jan. 2016, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/obesity/what-is-bmi.php.

The Body Mass Index (BMI)

Are Women Physically Fit Enough For Space Travel ?

As astronomers and astrophysicists discover more about outer space and the universe as a whole, there is the possibility that in the future humanity will regularly explore space. There could be chances in which humankind will engage in terraforming. There does exist exoplanets that may be Earth like. There will of course be the need for astronauts in the movement for wider space exploration. Such a journey either to reach a star or another planet would have a level of danger. Humanity reached the moon in 1969, which was the product of the Space Race during the Cold War. At that time most of the astronauts were men. Gradually, women began to become astronauts. There was and continues to be a common myth held that women are not physically fit enough for space travel. This is scientifically incorrect, yet there are still some considerations in terms of physiology and biology of a female space traveler . The environment of space can effect human health and the body. Some changes are sex specific and others occur in both. radiation, weightlessness, and effects on fertility are hazards. There are also other variables to consider for a long journey into space.

     There are particular requirements to be an astronaut. Education wise astronauts must have a master’s degree or higher in a science that could include mathematics, engineering, astronomy, biology or chemistry. There are many with very diverse scientific backgrounds on ships. There is a physical an astronaut must pass. Applicants must be in the best physical condition. One requirement is that a person has 20/20 vision. Candidates must be able to handle pressure on their bodies. Under water exercise has to be done to acclimate them to the pressure of space. They must be able to swim three laps in a 25 metre pool. This has to be done without stopping. Then the same action is performed with the space suit.

The Women pioneers of space exploration as shown above include Mae Jemison, Valentina Tereshkova, Sally K. Ride, and Liu Yang. 

Astronauts are basically given a scuba diving instruction. There are points in which water landing could occur and water survival training is critical. There is a height requirement which demands you be 190 cm tall to be a commander or pilot astronaut. Being a mission specialist the height requirement is less ranging from 149 to 193 cm. This may be the hardest obstacle for women,because on average they are shorter than men. This could be negated one day when spacecraft becomes more advanced. An astrouat’s routine fitness regimen involves running, biking, and weightlifting the are  most essential. Endurance is required to handle the weight of space suits weighing close to 300 lbs (136 kg) .   There has to be an exercise regimen while in space to prevent bone and muscle loss in space.  The lack of gravitation does not give the body the work that the skeletal and muscular system need. There also has to consideration for the circulatory system. One requirement is that an applicant must have a  blood pressure  of 140/90. This has to be at the reading when sitting. There are situations in which face low and high levels of barometric pressure. There also involves training in reduced gravity aircraft. This contributes to a space explorer getting acclimated to microgravity environments.

These requirements need an individual to be in great shape and health. Applicants must also have some flying experience. Flying experience is only required if you want to be a commander or an astronaut pilot. The training for astronauts has become more efficient compare to when it began in the 20th century. When the simulations began in 1957, applicants had to get in planes, while sustaining the aircraft’s sinusoidal or parabolic maneuvers. A colloquial phrase for reduced gravity aircraft became the “vomit comet.”  Around 1973 NASA took supervision of the the training program from the US Air Force. Then by 2008 a private company known as Zero G Corp became responsible for training. Flying in a wave pattern and reaching the midpoint of the parabolic motion allows the passenger to experience weightlessness. During this period weightlessness only lasts about 25 seconds. This will have to be done consistently to adequately prepare space travelers. This can make people ill with changes in motion.  A person with extreme motion sickness may find it difficult to become an astronaut. These requirements do not seem as intense as other physically demanding occupations, but are still rigorous.

         There must be a consideration of sex differences in physiology and biology. The muscular and skeletal structure are important to physical fitness. Men have on average more muscular strength compared to women. This does vary depending on health condition, age, and genetics. Men have a larger portion of upper body strength estimates vary women contain at least 40% less skeletal muscle in the upper body and 33% less in the lower body.

The reason for this is based on endocrine function. Women produce more estrogen and progesterone allowing for more body fat. Even the most muscular woman is carrying more body fat compared to a man. Androgens and specifically testosterone allow for a greater amount of muscular hypertrophy. This does not mean women cannot build muscle or strength. When a training regimen is the same for both men and women it would still result in men having a higher physical fitness level. The gap has to do also with staring point. If men have more muscle mass prior to the training regimen the gains would be higher. Weight training still has the same effect on a woman’s body, just not to the same extent. Men have more type II fast twitch muscle fibers. However, the body does switch been the more endurance based type I and  the more powerful type II muscle fiber. Strength doe not only depend on the actual muscle, but the neuromuscular activity. The rate of muscular contraction is critical to exerting force. Women do experience muscular hypertrophy in which muscle grows and repairs after exercise. Relevant to space travel for extended periods of time, it women do not exercise they would experience atrophy at a faster rate.

      To counter this it is essential that women build up as much strength as they can to prepare for a microgravity environment. The more musculoskeletal strength the more suited an individual is to space and longer travel. Women have lower bone density. This explains why they could be more susceptible to osteoporosis. The female skeleton has a wider pelvis and smaller thorax compared to the male skeletal structure. The reason men have an upper body advantage is that wider shoulders can allow more muscle to be housed there. More muscle correlates to more fibers being recruited to produce force. The skeleton is the frame that holds the body together, while ligaments and tendons contribute to movement as wells well as acting as structural support.

Cardiovascular fitness is also pivotal. Women have smaller hearts and lungs which effects how Vo2 max functions. Oxygen is transported to muscles to aid in the production of adenosine triphosphate for muscle contraction. A larger heart means that more blood is going to the tissues. Women have lower levels of hemoglobin which means their aerobic power is lower. Hemoglobin is a protein that must transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues. Besides the muscular, skeletal, and respiratory system there are also considerations related to the reproductive system. Menstruation is not an issue or a hindrance. The only difference is that hygiene will have to be performed in a different manner. The more threatening waste management problems that involve urination and defecation. Gynecological health will not be effected from being on a space ship. However, there is a concern relevant to both men and women in regards to radiation in space. This could cause fertility issues, which explains why most female astronauts wait before having children. It possible for humans to procreate in outer space, but no such experiment has been attempted. It is unknown how a baby would develop in a space environment. This is why there are some restrictions on what female astronauts can do while pregnant. Female astronauts cannot do neutral buoyancy training while pregnant. Underwater dives which could last to eight hours could have negative effects on a developing child. There are some differences in how men and women react to extremes in the outer space. Reduction in oxygen supply (hypoxia), varying temperatures, acceleration, isolation,  and impact are examples of sex differences. These are minor and vary depending on the individual.

         There has not been an extensive study of female astronauts in terms of  health and physical performance. The reality is that there have been few female  long duration astronauts. The few that exist are individuals and such a small sample would not reveal anything about a much larger group of women. Female astronauts could be at higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer. Urinary tract infections are also another health concern for female astronauts. Even bacteria on women’s bodies can be altered during spaceflight. Another observation is that some astronauts suffer vision loss. There are many problems that can occur to the organ systems of the body in space. If bone is shed too much this will  lead to kidney stones. This is a health problem that effects more men rather than women. There needs to be more studies of female astronauts and more in general. If humanity is seeking to colonize space or other planets women have to be a part of the process. There is obviously a gender bias in the sciences and space exploration. NASA conducted tests from 1960 to 1961 to see if women could handle the rigors of space travel. Jerrie Cobb who was a pilot who did the same medical and physical tests for Mercury astronauts at NASA. Her score placed her in the top two percent of qualified candidates. Yet, it was a period of sexist prejudice and NASA was simply not looking for female astronauts. Such barriers are being broken, but there still needs to be improvement.

 Staying in space would have long term effects on health and the human body. The reason has to do with how humans evolved. Our ancestors developed in an environment with gravity and space has a zero gravity environment. That is why bones and muscles are effected from a sudden change in environment. Human beings are just like other animals in the sense that their biome is essential to their survival. Outer space is a more rough terrain than any desert, polar ice cap, or ocean. The health effects can only be fully understood when one stays in space for a period of time.

          Remaining in space can cause a change in the human body. The semimotor system gets disrupted to a degree. The inner ear is responsible for balance an when this is disturbed one can get nausea. Sinuses could get clogged due to the fluids of the body floating upward. The skeleton can lose mass and it is possible for astronauts to lose about 1 percent each month. Muscles can atrophy from not being used in a microgarvity environment. There is a solution to such problems which include taking vitamin D supplements and exercising 2 hours and 30 minutes six days a week. The cerebrospinal fluid may be effected by the microgravity, which results in changes in vision. Although there is the possibility of changes in physical health, mental health is also given attention. Being with a small crew away from larger populations can effect emotional states. This information can reveal much about how women would fare in long term space exploration. Seeing as their muscle and bone mass is lower it would be wise to do strength training prior to training as a astronaut. The rate of muscular atrophy would be faster compared to men. Men and women with ectomorphic body types may be more vulnerable to bone and muscle loss.

Doubtless of sex each person could react differently to space. Long journeys are complicated by radiation and the fact that the magnetic field of Earth protects us from such hazards. Going further into space would require more technology to maintain a healthy body. Even with exercise equipment, muscles of astronauts can lose up to 40% of their capacity for work. Planning an expedition to Mars would be vary precarious. The Journal of Physiology conducted a study in regards to the effect of weightlessness on muscles. The results showed that astronauts lost about 35% of their muscle fiber force. NASA has estimated it would take at least 10 months to reach Mars and 10 months to get back for one mission. Space does pose health hazards, but it is an unexplored wilderness still filled with unknown possibilities. There are exoplanets, blackholes, stars, nebula formations, and dark matter.

The solution to the threat to muscular health was to develop the Advanced Resistance Exercise Device. It is unknown if this new technology would be as effective in combating muscular atrophy. The only way to know with certainty is to measure the amount of muscle loss astronauts sustained when coming back from space. This exercise technology has been around since 2008, prior to that there was very little effective workout equipment for training the muscles. Exercise and high quality diet can prevent health issues on flights.

       NASA did conduct a study in which it examined how men and women handle spaceflight. The problem is the study only contained about 57 female astronauts. There were more men representing a total of 477. The records were examined between 2013 to 2017. The report showed that men had a greater tolerance for spaceflight in particular categories. Women were less likely to have hearing loss or vision impairment. Women according to the study lose more blood plasma and have a higher heart rate under stressful situations. There is very little difference in immune system response to space. Both men and women suffer from motion sickness during space travel. It happens at different times. Women experience it when arriving in space, while men have it coming back to Earth. The overall leading heath risk seems to be visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome. NASA and the International Space Station want to extend missions beyond six months to a year .

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The different effects of spaceflight on female and male astronauts. 

The conclusion that one would automatically come to is that women do not make quality astronauts. This is not true, but it reveals how possible solutions can be developed. More women are need for such studies to ensure precision in experiments. Spacecraft will have to either increase in speed or navigate in a manner in which one can easily travel from one point of space to another instantly. This has been theorized by astrophysicists in which traversable wormholes could be used to go long distances. Doing so would allow humanity to avoid certain health hazards. Distance is the biggest obstacle. Alpha Centari another closest to Earth is 4.4 lightyears away. This means it would take light 4.4 years to reach Alpha Centari  from Earth. One astronomical unit is equal to 150 million km ( 93 million miles ). Humanity will have to go far to reach something of interest. NASA must then study the problem of long term spaceflight from perspectives of exercise physiology, health science, biology, aeronautical engineering. and the general astrophysics of space.

          Women are capable enough to handle spaceflight. There are some considerations that should be taken into account in terms of physiology and fitness. Muscle atrophy and bone loss are serious concerns. They can be negated to an extent through training and technology. There are sex specific health related issues that must be examined. Some wonder why explore space at all. There are legitimate and practical reasons. The first reason  is that it part of human nature to be curious and explore. Since the first hominins migrated off the continent of Africa humanity has been colonized the Earth. The Bantu migrations, the Polynesian migrations, the Turko-Mongol nomads, and the Age of Exploration prove humanity does not remain still. The next step will be to go into space. Another reason for space exploration is to find and colonize Earth like planets. Seeing as the Earth is being destroyed by climate change and disregard for the preservation of the environment that would be more reasonable. There will be more exploration in the future and it will only be a matter of time before masses of people will travel through space. Hopefully a generation of female astronauts will be contributors to this project.

 

References

 MailOnline, Jonathan O’Callaghan for. “Battle of the Sexes in SPACE: Nasa Studies Medical Records to Discover Which Gender Fares Better in Zero-Gravity Conditions.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 20 Nov. 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2842813/Who-makes-better-astronauts-men-women-Females-suffer-vision-loss-males-deal-stress-better-study-claims.htm

McNally, Jess. “Astronaut Muscles Would Wither by Mars.” Wired, Conde Nast, 4 June 2017, http://www.wired.com/2010/08/astronaut-muscle-waste/.

Monaghan, Sheila. “NASA ASTRONAUTS ARE INCREDIBLY FIT.” Furthermore from Equinox, Furthermore from Equinox, 5 May 2017, furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2017/05/nasa-astronauts-workout.
Koren, Marina. “What One Year of Space Travel Does to the Human Body.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Mar. 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/scott-kelly-mikhail-kornienko/471717/.
Lunau, Kate. “Why We Desperately Need to Study More Female Astronauts.” Motherboard, Motherboard , 19 Apr. 2016, motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/4xa38j/why-we-desperately-need-to-study-more-female-astronauts-NASA-Sally-Ride.
Sivasubramanian , Shami. “The 7 Requirements to Be an Astronaut.” SBS, SBS, 15 July 2016, http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/science/space/article/2016/07/15/7-requirements-be-astronaut.

 Juan 28 Jul 2006 at 12:18 tweet_btn(), Stephen. “What Issues Are There for Women in Space?” The Register® – Biting the Hand That Feeds IT, The Register , 28 July 2006, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/28/the_odd_body_women_in_space/.

Spencer, Henry. “Why NASA Barred Women Astronauts.” New Scientist, New Scientist , 8 Oct. 2009, http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/10/why-nasa-barred-women-astronau.html.
Taylor, Nola. “Vomit Comet: Training Flights for Astronauts.” Space.com, Space.com , 25 Aug. 2017, http://www.space.com/37942-vomit-comet.html.
Are Women Physically Fit Enough For Space Travel ?

What Military Recruiters Aren’t Telling Women: You’ll Face Disproportionate Health Risks

What military recruiters aren’t telling women: You’ll face disproportionate health risks

This is an op ed from the Los Angeles Times originally published July 25, 2017 discussing the possible health issues women could face in combat roles. While there are legitimate concerns the articles raises, it is clear that they are not supportive of women have such jobs. It reveals that the Defense Department is undergoing a campaign to increase women’s numbers in combat jobs by 10 %.  Targets may be difficult to meet based on certain physical standards that the majority of women may not be able to meet. This explains why women involved in sports and physical fitness activities are being targeted for combat jobs. They would have the physical strength and endurance to meet the fitness standards. The article claims that there has not been a precise study to examine the disproportionate health risks of women in combat and also implies that combat integration would be an awful idea. It cannot be ignored that there are physiological and anatomical differences among the sexes. However, these are averages and what the military is looking for is women with the proper qualifications. If the standards are set, training is done correctly, and male soldiers see their female colleagues as valued members women in combat can will work. There are solutions to possible health risks to soldiers.

      There is the obvious statement of facts in the article in regards to physiology and fitness. These are generalities and averages that are well know to any individual with an basic understanding of biology. The average male can produce more testosterone which allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. As stated in the by the authors “the average woman can possess 55% to 58% the upper body strength of men.”   The difference in endocrinology also effects the skeletal system making bones denser. Larger lungs and hearts as well as a different shaped pelvis means men run faster. The difference translates to 40 % greater aerobic capacity compared to women. These are averages of men and women, but there should be consideration for women who have attained a high fitness level. The average woman would obviously be at a disadvantage. The female athlete would not have such a problem. Weightlifters, swimmers, as well as  track and field athletes would possibly be overqualified for some of the physical standards. There are of course health risks from injury,but stronger women are more likely to endure.

If the average woman is seeking to enter such a physically demanding job, she will have to train prior to basic training. Seeing as there is a disadvantage in muscle power it will have to be built. If a woman does not take this step initially, injury in basic training could occur. This has to be approached from a practical  physical fitness perspective. The first question is can a woman get stronger through a training method? It is possible and it requires weight training. This type of exercise also builds muscle and bone in women. Doing this prepares the body for rigorous activity of combat positions. Besides sex, there are other factors that effect physical fitness potential. There is the current state of health ( weight and diseases), genetics, and somatotype. Women who have mesomorphic body types will find vigorous physical activity easier and will respond to a greater extent to training. A woman of endomorphic or ectomorphic body type may have to train harder to reach a fitness target. Genetics play a role in athletic potential. Women who trains on the same regimen as a man will not reach the same physical fitness level.

Muscular hypertrophy is greater in males compared to females.  

If we look at averages, many men and women who would be drafted would either have to go on a weight management program. A  portion of the American population is either obese or overweight. They would need to be trained extra to deal with this. they state that “no training system can close the gap.” While women’s strength level would not reach the highest performing male, they could meet standards through training. Women who strength taring for several months can expect to see a 20 to 40 % increase in strength. The only way this will happen is if women lift weights heavy enough to cause fatigue can build muscle. Lighter weights are better for building muscle endurance. Women as the article points out may have to use most of their maximum physical fitness capacity. It should be noted there are men who may not meet the fitness  requirements either. However, no one would question their ability to be turned into a soldier.

 Women depending on which armor unit they are in are required to lift 35 pound shells and carry 100 pound packs. This may seem like too much, but it depends on the anthropometric measurements of the woman in such a position. Lifting 35 pounds repeatedly would not be a problem for a woman who has trained in strength building exercises. A woman who is 150 pounds with low body fat could have an easier time than a woman who is 122 lbs.The more type II muscle fiber the more endurance women will have to the physical strains of combat. These types of muscle fibers during recruitment provide more explosive power. Women have these muscle fibers as well, not to the same extent as men. At the cellular level and in the process of muscular hypertrophy, there is no difference. Women can build strength; the real obstacle is increasing running speed. Despite being closer to men in the lower body, the shape of women’s pelvis would mean they would run slower.

Training does not change the structure of the pelvis in women. It is possible to increase women’s running speed. Training must be done in intervals to be effective. When training to increase distance one should run slower during training. Increasing speed would involve require shorter distances while running to build up endurance. This would from a physical fitness point of view would be more difficult than building strength. The gap in physical fitness may not be reduced. but it can be narrowed. The only information revealed by this data is that women in peak physical shape would be better performers in physical tasks. The average woman would struggle without training. This means women would probably still remain in small numbers in the marines and frontline infantry divisions. The most physically demanding combat occupational specialties even if they open to women may not have equal numbers. Just like construction, firefighting, and law enforcement women will make a small percentage.

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This explains the ads targeting women who are fit enough for such tasks. The challenge for women is the higher the intensity the more strain they will face. Close combat units as the article explains have the issue of irregular meals, sleep deprivation, and low intake of calcium and vitamin D. The access to these critical vitamins can be distributed to soldiers in their supplies. Carrying such pills would not be an extra burden in terms of supplies. There are means to prevent the conservation mode in women’s bodies. Menstrual cycles could cease  and the possibility of osteoporosis could increase. Stress fractures the article states is from conservation mode, but is really from over loaded gear. Yet they attribute that to the pelvic injuries, urinary tact injuries, and pelvic organ prolapse. Designing armor and gear to fit the female body form can reduce injury during training and in battle.  The US military has began designing such armor to fight this problem. Women must focus on upper body exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, and bicep curls to strengthen those areas. Soldier loads must be designed to be ergonomically efficient. This way soldiers will not be overloaded with gear hindering their mobility. Soldiers need armor that is strong, but does not reduce their speed. Even the strongest people can get injured if the place too much weight on their body.

This reveals why soldiers feel the health effects after service. The military is ignoring health issues and providing low quality healthcare. Women should avoid taking contraception thinking that it will enhance performance. There is a myth that the menstrual cycle reduces a woman’s physical strength and athletic performance. Women take contraception not to prevent birth in this circumstance, but think they will perform better. This comes to having accurate information about women’s bodies. Not using contraception except for what it was intended to be used for can prevent weight gain and loss of bone mineral density. To prevent such health problems it is critical to monitor soldier health and to make sure they are aware of possible health conditions .

         There is a general fitness issue of weight management that the text does not discuss. The American population struggles with either obesity or weight control. The data could be exaggerated if calculated on a body mass index scale, which has not always been the most accurate. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey  66% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Then was an increase from 53% a generation ago. There could be numerous factors in the spike. Food labeling may not be completely honest and the use of high fructose corn syrup contributes. Foods with enormous amounts of sugar and fats also sabotage weight loss efforts. Then it could be difficult if one does have the motivation to lose weight. Some try multiple times and quit. There has to be an atmosphere of encouragement to change habits. Another problem is keeping the weight lost off. Weight issues do not only effect adults, but children and youth. What this means is that the majority of the population would not be physically fit enough to meet military standards. That means many Americans would have to lose weight prior to starting any form of basic training. Besides that, there has to be a paradigm shift in how people view exercise and physical activity. The problem is people see as a chore, rather than something fun or enjoyable. This is why physical education classes should be structured  in that manner. Not only will it teach children to be active,but it will  encourage life long healthy habits. Relevant to women there is a challenge. It is harder for them to lose weight. Higher estrogen production and differences in metabolism make explain this. Women can lose weight through the right methods. Diet alone will not be adequate; there has to be an exercise regimen to burn calories. What also must be done is altering women’s perceptions about fitness and physical activity. There still is the antiquated belief that exercise,sports, and physical activity or skill is male only. When women understand that their bodies are not biologically inferior, they gain more confidence in their physical skills. Doing this would make it easier for women entering the service. The American population has to get its weight issues under control if it wants to assemble a larger fighting force.

        This op ed does have an agenda. While it does not resort to outrageous claims as detractors of women in combat make, it does believe in the frailty myth. The idea that anything physical women will fail at. Physical skill or strength or occupations that require it are places that women are not meant to be in accord to those who believe in women’s biological inferiority. Julie Pulley a former army captain and Hugh P, Scott a Navy medical officer have credentials as military professionals, who wrote this op-ed. However, they do not offer solutions to issues of women’s health. Besides that, they ignore women who have excelled. There have been women who were physically capable, but at the time of their service combat jobs prohibited them. Alley Miesch Nie was a military service member. Looking at her photograph one would assume the 5’4 woman would not be able to handle combat or physical tasks.

blog_alley-miesch-nie_military_435x290  Despite a person’s gender bias the reality tells another story. At 141 pounds during her competitive career as an athlete she was able to 225 lbs  bench presses, 350 lbs squats, 800 lbs leg presses, and 325 lbs deadlifts. She clearly developed an impressive level of functional strength through training. Based on these statistics, how would Alley do on a particular MOS standard? These new standards are called “gender neutral” yet there is a problem with that. Using this terminology makes people think that standards are lowered for women. What it really means is that there will no longer be a fitness standard target that is lower for women. It means both men and women will have to be qualified physically depending on which occupation. The standards vary depending on the US Navy, US Army, and US Air force job. After basic training, the soldier can make the decision which MOS they want to go to.

  The year 2017 has brought some updated combat arms fitness standards. The biggest changes came to infantry and armor. The test will be in four parts. It wants to specifically target who would best fit in a particular occupational specialty. This new test is called the Occupational Physical Assessment Test which went into effect January 1st. It has only one scoring scare and adjustments are not made for sex or age. The marines did have separate standards which are now being formed into one fitness standard. It consists of four fitness events which include a medicine ball throw, standing long jump, deadlift, and interval run. The scores are classified based on the results of performance labelled in color codes . The black (heavy) score means a soldier is prepared for the physical demands. Significantly prepared is gray. The moderate range is gold, while the lowest score is white (unprepared). Soldiers who make the black category will qualify for all MOS in the US armed forces. All recruits must meet the gold category. Infantry, armor, and combat engineer are what would fall under the black category. The gray category would include tank mechanics and helicopter repair mechanics. Many combat jobs are under the moderate gold category ( army medical occupations ). Based on this information it seems that Alley would have no problem reaching the black category. Women with the least amount of fitness would fall into the unprepared category. The majority of women could fall into either moderate or some in the significantly prepared. If a recruit wants to really be part of some occupation specialty, they have to make sure they are physically prepared for the test. Another problem is that the height and weight standards will have to be adjusted.

Height        Min Weight            17-20            21-27               28-39              40+

58                 91                           119                 121                 122                 124
59                 94                           124                 125                 126                 128
60                 97                           128                 129                 131                 133
61                 100                         132                 134                 135                 137
62                 104                         136                 138                 140                 142
63                 107                         141                 143                 144                 146
64                 110                         145                 147                 149                 151
65                 114                         150                 152                 154                 156
66                 117                         155                 156                 158                 161
67                 121                         159                 161                 163                 166
68                 125                         164                 166                 168                 171
69                 128                         169                 171                 173                 176
70                 132                         174                 176                 178                 181
71                 136                         179                 181                 183                 186
72                 140                         184                 186                 188                 191
73                 144                         189                 191                 194                 197
74                 148                         194                 197                 199                 202
75                 152                         200                 202                 204                 208
76                 156                         205                 207                 210                 213
77                 160                         210                 213                 215                 219
78                 164                         216                 218                 221                 225
79                 168                         221                 224                 227                 230
80                 173                         227                 230                 233                 236

Alley because of her height would fall out of the required weight range. The ironic part is that she is not overweight. The body mass index does not account for a person who has vast amounts of lean body mass. So a woman who built up muscle would be denied the position based on the weight and height standards. The Marines realizing women were fit enough, but did not fall in the range of the body mass standards had to make a change. These standards have also effected men who just are bigger. The average Marine is bigger than in the past and this has not been accounted for. A muscular strong woman would then fall out the weight and height regulation. This would put shorter women at a disadvantage, because under the old regulations.

 The women are going to need the extra lean body mass they have built up. The maximum weight for a woman of 5’3 is 141 lbs. Short muscular women even if they are capable would then disqualified. There was the option of wavier, but this process was long and cumbersome. Women could have been reducing their physical optimum to reach the weight requirements. This only harms success. Another problem being addressed is unequal fitness standards. Women must not be given lower standards based on ideas they will perform worse. That means having them so the same exercises. One issue that arouse was three pull ups controversy in 2014. Most female Marines struggled doing three pull-ups. Detractors took that as evidence women could not meet the demands of combat. Yet, upon further investigation the problem became obvious. Women were for a long time doing the flexed arm hang rather than pull-ups. That exercise in particular will not build the most upper body strength. When women were trained to do such an exercise it was not a problem. The mass media focused on women’s failures rather than their successes.

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Women are going to need the physical strength and fitness  to be in combat positions.

The article admits “women are essential in America’s armed services” yet the author may not truly believe that. The most vocal opponents against women in combat come ironically from conservative and Republican Party groups and individuals. They have become the party of war and yet they are condemning women who enthusiastically  volunteer for service. This is why the constant slogan that they preach “support the troops” is disingenuous. The conservatives and far-right Republicans cite sex differences as evidence women are incapable or inferior in terms of combat qualification. The reality is that women have been in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan in unofficial capacities. The reason for misogynist rhetoric or behavior ( the Marine cell phone picture scandal) is that men do not want to compete with women for combat jobs. the irrational fear that women are going to take jobs away from men in the military is ludicrous. The policy of  military intervention in various nations around the world. There will be no shortage of jobs in the military. There may actually be a time in which there may not be enough men to fill these positions. It makes no sense to ban women who are qualified for a combat job. The article states that army recruiting sites or recruiters themselves do not reveal reports about the health risks. Anyone with a basic understanding or physiology or anatomy would realize physically demanding jobs to have an attrition rate. Physical attrition can happen from repetitive motion injuries and factors due to range considering the intensity of  activity. This may happen to women faster over the years. The male body may be able to sustain more trauma, but no person of sex is impervious to injury. The only solution is to reduce soldier load for ergonomic efficiency and let recruits know specific standards as well as the best methods for training. The US military must stop present the frailty myth as fact and having low expectations for women in combat positions.

        The evidence used to make the case women are not fit for combat must be questioned. The one text that they do mention “Musculoskeletal Injuries in Military Women” is credible but the authors do not mention the solutions given after the study. The 2011 report has general prevention of injury strategies that the US military is finally implementing. The solution that the report states is to have modifications in the training programs. Running mileage has to be reduced, because many injuries occurred from this. The training method should involve progressive and gradual exercise stress. The report notes that higher fitness levels mean less injury. The reason why the Brigade Combat Team placed a fitness standard for recruits to meet before training was to solve this problem of high injury rates. Women must meet the three push-ups, 17 sit-ups,  and run 10.5 minutes for one mile before they can go train for the BCT. The reason it should be done gradually is that the body must adapt to the level of intensity. The report also notes that progressive loading exercises are the best for strengthening the lower body muscles. The muscles that should be targeted are the soleus, gastrocnemius, quadriceps, hamstrings, tibialis (anterior and posterior), and gluteus medius. The report found a solution yet the authors of this op-ed do not share this information.

Some solutions are also the most simple ones. Women require better running shoes. Having the proper running shoes can allow for avoidance of knee, ankle, hip as well as the back. These running shoes should be comfortable reducing as much pressure on the foot as possible. Shoes should contain Achilles Heel relief, strong midsole, fexiable toe box,  and enforced cushioning. The toe box should provide plenty of room. These attributes of a running shoe help make the shock of running less harmful to the feet and legs. This is critical considering women’s different pelvic structure creates a more q angle. This also indicates that soldiers require shock absorbing boots. Having these will allow for less stress fractures and lower extremity injuries. “Musculoskeletal injuries in Military Women” provides prevention suggestions to common aliments that could befall female soldiers. A combination of exercise, training adjustment, and proper running shoes will vastly solve the problem of high injury rates in women. Core stabilization exercises are also recommended to women in the report. The rectus abdominis including the external and internal obliques must be strengthen to prevent spinal conditions.

The report also cites the treatment, diagnosis, and management of multiple injuries.Not only that, the 2011 report delineates proper rehabilitation from injuries.   A soldier must be aware of  lower back injuries, patellofemoral syndrome, Achilles tendinitis ( or tendinosis) , iliotibial band syndrome, ACL tears and other conditions can be prevented. The training will have to build up bone and muscle mass in women. If one reads the report thoroughly it is not arguing excluding women; it provides practical answers to the disparity in health for military women.The second source regarding women in combat the authors cite ” The Physiological and Medical Aspects That Put Women at Risk for Overuse Injuries.” The only information it provides is what could be deduced based on the 2011 report for the Army surgeon General’s office. Women have to use more of their maximum physical capacity to perform on the same level as men. The only conclusion is that women must build their core strength and upper body to lift the weights required for physically demanding combat jobs. Both of these reports show the health risks, but provide solutions, rather than using them for justifications for keeping women out of combat. They identify a problem and scientifically assess the situation and formulate a answer. The conclusion is to have women train first before attempting tests for combat positions. Physical fitness level before entry is pivotal to success. However, the text cites one of the writings of Marine Captain Katie Petronio who makes it clear that she does not favor women in combat. Most of her writings are specifically against women in the infantry. Her agenda seemed to support the conservative cause of preventing the ban from ending, but claimed on a CNN interview in 2012 : ” I’m not against women in combat.”     Then went on to explain “combat readiness is going to be effected by this.”Women who enter combat are not going to reduce combat readiness or efficiency, as long as they meet the same standards. Petronio claims that her two deployments two Afghanistan caused her health problems. The first was muscular atrophy and weight loss . The atrophy only happens when muscles are not in use. This could have been another medical issue not part of her combat experience. Sudden atrophy would indicate some form of multiple sclerosis or at least symptoms of it. She may not have had this, but it was clear that she was not training her body to maintain muscular strength.

This is Mina Mituskoa which shows her during her athletic career and after. As you can see her muscles atrophied after not doing intense training. 

When you stop exercising such gains will be lost. This happens faster with women, due to the difference in hormones. The extreme weight loss was probably induced by irregular meals. Such low body fat levels from irregular meals may have caused her infertility. Endurance issue could have just been caused by the extreme environment of Afghanistan. Maybe if her training were different, she would have been able to handle such rigors. The time in which she entered the new standards had not been established. The footwear and equipment has to be designed for the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Petronio has in a Phyllis Schlafly fashion promoted an anti-woman sentiment in the infantry. It is ironic that a woman is the one preaching such ideas. Citing her article for the Marine Gazette does not add to the image of providing an honest opinion.

The common health problems of stress fractures and spinal cord injury can be reduced by lighter loads and improving a recruit’s physical fitness level before entry. 

The numerous health risks are well know,especially the major one of death in battle. Those injured by gunfire, shrapnel, or suffer a traumatic brain injury are not mentioned in the text. Military recruiters do not tell the truth about the US. There is also a more pressing issue that has often been ignored rape and mental illness in the US military. Women face sexual violence from their male colleagues. Women also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Hardship and witness the carnage of war makes it difficult to adjust to civilian life.

        The military has another health crisis of rape and sexual assault. According to the Pentagon statistics reports of sexual assault have reached an enormous high. Service members reported a total of 6,172 cases in 2016. This does not account for the women and men who do not report attacks.  The Pentagon also reported that 58% of victims said they faced some form of reprisal for exposing their attacker. Sexual misconduct is ubiquitous in the armed services. Only recently has the US military taken action, but this may not be enough. Sex based violence is a threat to health and personal security of the women and men who serve. Many times commanding officers may be involved, but are not brought to trial by a civilian court. A military court is more likely to be more lenient. The only way this scourge of violence can be stopped is if punishments are more severe. The problem is not just in attitudes; it is institutionally based. The Marines have this problem with online harassment. It had to deal with a Facebook group known as “Marines United” which often spread misogynist and lascivious commentary about women in the armed forces. There is a hostile work environment that requires dramatic human resources action. If not, this will hinder military effectiveness and productivity overall. A culture of mistrust is growing at a period when it is required to function as a unified fighting force. There has to be a way to challenge the strange hazing culture that is present in the US military. This involves fraternity like antics, which involves the harassment of women. It is no secret that the US military has an unwritten policy of rape of the populations they invade. From World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War US soldiers have assaulted populations with sex violence. With Iraq and Afghanistan the numbers could be much higher. America now has a declining global image, due to the damage of aggressive and unprovoked war. The authors should realize this is just as much of a health risk to women as combat itself.

        Soldiers may leave the service without any physical injuries, but mental health can also be effected. Many soldiers are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. This could also put them at risk for depression. The challenge is there is still stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why  people do not seek the help they need. There is nothing wrong with a person seeking help. A study conducted by the US military revealed that soldiers have higher rates of mental illness than the civilian population. The worst case result after service is possible suicide. There are explanations for higher rates of mental illness among military personnel. It could be some had it prior to entry into the US military.  Data collected from the Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members revealed that soldiers had six times as high episode of intermittent explosive disorder. This is a mental disorder when rage cannot be controlled and impulse is difficult to manage. The study surveyed 5,500 soldiers. There is the possibility of multiple tours of duty causing the problem. Younger soldiers are more at risk for mental illness. The reasons could be that they become home sick, stressed, or do not have the emotional support system.

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The military must take into consideration what multiple deployments will do to military families. It is critical for a soldier’s well being to stay connected to friends and family.

There needs to be an honest description of the hardships that will follow military service. However, it is not the case of false advertising. Some people like the idea of danger and adventure as well as possible risk. They want to explore the world, but do not have the means to travel. The military in some ways provides that opportunity for some who are economically disadvantaged. The shock of being in a new environment and acclimating can be difficult. There are reasons for the suicides, which are elucidated by particular experiences. It has been known soldiers may be forced to do unspeakable and unethical acts that were ordered by their commanders. If if violates protocol or basic rules of warfare. The guilt and controversy will eventually get to people engaging in such acts. Killing one’s self is an escape from some from constant mental anguish. Soldiers and the military must realize that getting help or consulting someone is not weakness. The military trained soldiers to be tough and self reliant, but even the strongest people need emotional support.

       There are certain realities that the US military has to come to terms with. Women are going to be a part of the fighting force and resisting this change will only hinder operation. Just like African Americans becoming integrated into the US military it will happen. The US armed forces are becoming more diverse and represent the demographic shift in America. The US will have to reevaluate its foreign policy strategy.  Women have a harder time due to the fact their ability is put into question. The frailty myth or the idea women just cannot be physically capable is still disseminated through out the mass media. Conservative outlets are the most vituperative. Their argument is that “you don’t see women playing in the NFL.” War is more violent and complex that a football game. A sports event does not involve someone being killed or imprisoned after defeat. The only concern is if a female soldier is disarmed some how. A larger man would have the advantage of strength that she is fighting. This means they would have to be reliant on martial arts skills. Judo and Krav maga are effective fighting styles that can be useful for a person who is smaller.

This is why women must be given the same hand to hand combat training. Doing so ensures women can fight out a precarious situation if disarmed. However, just being physically strong does not automatically make you a great fighter. Limited skill and maladroit movements could be more of a hindrance. Although this is a sports analogy consider this : a hand to hand fight between a MMA fighter and a bodybuilder. The more muscular person may have more strength, but did not learn fighting techniques. The MMA fighter has knowledge of these and knows how to avoid hits. This could be a decisive factor in determining who wins.

 Each fighting style has its strengths and weaknesses. As we have seen from women’s mixed martial arts and boxing they do have the ability to fight. There is the question can a woman carry a wounded man off a battlefield if the situation calls for it. The requires a significant portion of upper body strength. Women can lift men with an understanding of leverage. The approach should be to have them practice casualty drags both without gear and with their armor on. Carrying a person without gear is easier, because there is no extra weight. Having women do both can physically prepare them for the demands.

There could be simple solutions to this problem. Detaching some of the gear and removing the person could be one. Dragging the individual by there shoulders could be another. Yet, there could be situations that require medical evacuation and moving the person could cause more harm. Women who are in this situation should be able to do just fine if the passed their tests and met proper qualifications. Thus the argument “women are not strong enough” seems to lack cogency. Even ones that are qualified still are questioned about their competence. Women who work in mostly male dominated professions have to work extra hard to prove themselves. One simple mistake can be a representation of the group, which demonstrates the general sexist atmosphere in these jobs. The US military has to challenge this culture of women being less than capable. The frontline has been burred with warfare becoming more asymmetric. So, women who go to other locations around the globe may see combat without having trained for it. Physical fitness is important, however technology negates this in some regards. Muscles are of little protection against tanks, jets, bombs, guns, drones, biological, nuclear, and chemical weapons. A physically fit military is essential, however a state must have the technology and tactics to ultimately triumph in conflict.  Other nations are also allowing women to serve on the frontline. The UK and India are now in the process of allowing women to fight in combat roles. It is only a matter of time before more countries start doing the same.

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Countries that allow women in combat. This was a map produced in 2013. This however does not include women who fight in an unofficial capacity .

There are women who fight in unofficial capacities. This could be in paramilitary groups, liberation movement causes, or other armed insurgencies. The peshmerga and YPG has female fighters operating in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds do not have their own state,but seem to be attempting to carve out one after the battle against ISIS ends. It is clear that women will be a part of that fight as well. The Tamil Tigers also mobilized women in war during the civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009. FARC  when it was fighting the Colombian government did the same. These places were not states so that is why on the data of women in combat. It seems more women are involved in combat than previously thought.  A majority of Northern European countries allow women in combat. Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

It seems people if inspired enough will pick up arms if they deem a cause worthy. Women who are born in countries with less resources do not have the same the training as the US military women and still fight effectively. There is no reason that women in the US cannot do the same. The biggest question is how physically strong can a woman get in order to meet the qualifications of certain military occupational specialties ? A sample from women’s weightlifting  scores could provide a hypothesized answer. The women who fall in a fitness category of advanced and elite would be more likely to handle more manual labor compared to the beginner or intermediate fitness level. This may complicate implementing a draft. Women would take longer to reach fitness targets.

female-strength-chart

The only solution is too either adjust the total goal target of the number women you want to serve or have a fitness program in place. This can be done, but another issue must be addressed. Women should register for the selective service. The fact that one preaches equality means that you also accept the responsibility that comes with it. Men do not have a choice, because they are forced to register. The option of being a conscientious objector is available, yet this may be ignored by a military that is becoming more desperate for a victory in a series of failing military engagements. There should be no objection from any advocate for women in combat to reject women being part of the selective service. By this same line of reasoning, this is not license to end a volunteer army system. So far, it has worked well sense the end of the Vietnam War and allowed  for higher skilled and higher paid positions to become available. Americans will not tolerate being drafted for wars that are either imperialist in objective or futile in execution. The point the US military is for security. The United States is more and far beyond capable of defending itself. Most of America’s military engagements have nothing to do with security at all. They either advance a business agenda or a geopolitical strategy of keeping America as the world’s sole superpower. Americans have been taught that its military fights for freedom and human rights when this is a fabrication. If there is a concern about military recruiters being extremely dishonest, this is the part that should also cause concern.

            There have been exaggerated claims that allowing women in combat will result in failure in US military operations. Women entering combat will not do this, because the US is continued a path that could lead to major social and political issues. Take the role of policeman of the world has caused much anger and distrust of the US throughout the world. The end of the Cold War gave the US immense power which it has abused. Without the Soviet Union,there was little justification for a large military. This did not stop interventions in Somalia, Iraq, or Yugoslavia. NATO and the US struck Kosovo not for humanitarian reasons,but to dismantle Yugoslavia further. Civil war and ethnic conflict was already tearing the country apart, intervention by other Western European nations furthered the disintegration. The US wants to maintain global hegemony even if it conflates into wider regional conflicts. China and Russia are clearly world powers and the US sees them as a threat. This may not be the case, if diplomacy was utilized. Instead there is a network of shadow wars and wars of proxy occurring between the US, China, and Russia. All these powers use the false narrative of fighting the War on Terror as a justification for reducing freedoms or initiating wars. North Korea, Ukraine, and Syria are countries that find themselves caught up in the nexus of wars of proxy. The United States must accept the that the world is moving to a multipolar  world power system.Military recruiters will never be honest about what America is really doing. They will never tell of the numerous atrocities, corruption in the Department of Defense, or the neoconservative war agenda for various countries. To say that women are being more so manipulated by being recruited for certain jobs is no more exploitative than any other aspect of the US military. Opening combat roles to women in a way was a public relations technique to improve the image of the US military. lost wars, war crimes, and the abuses of the military industrial complex have tarnish the institution’s image. Maybe a new generation of  leadership in the US military can reverse this. Women should not seek to be just combat soldiers; they should also aim to be generals of the highest rank.

Women should become part of the leadership and maybe with new perspectives some problems can be addressed from a different approach. There has to be also a change in political leadership. The system of world politics should adopt another mode of operation. There should not be preparations for war, rather a sustainable peace. All nation-states are guilty of competing with one another for military dominance of the globe. There are nations that carve out and become power centers in a particular region often bullying smaller nations. On a larger scale world powers bully the entire globe. The US-EU block has done such actions to Libya, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria. It has to be understood that liberal democracy or another governance system cannot be imposed upon people. The US military is an apparatus for security, not nation building. A complexus of skilled diplomacy can prevent war; intervention should be the last resort. These ideas are practical, but with more women and others joining the US military the possibility of peace seems hopeless.

           There were rumors that Donald Trump was going to reverse the Obama era measure allowing women in combat. It has not happened, but there is a possibility. He has already targeted transgender service members  who do not make up much of the US military. Blatant acts of discrimination are common in  America. Even if the individual is qualified hate and the status quo is favored. There are numerous examples that show women are capable.

Although women have proven that they can be capable, there will always be doubts and hatred directed at them for being in jobs that were male only. If combat integration is to be successful there has to be a massive human resources effort. Sexual harassment and assault should be punished quickly and severely. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must work to provide a higher standard of healthcare . Veterans too often are not getting high quality care that should be every citizen’s right.If not the US could face a major public health crisis. Soldier health should incorporate mental and physical well being. While there is a movement to improving the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, the care in regards to PTSD and depression are not adequate. Military recruiters should be honest about the health risks and the challenges involved. Honesty about the military should not discourage individuals with a strong desire to serve. Women should not be discouraged from serving just as long as they know what they are signing up for. A military health maintenance program can solve certain problems and reduce medical discharges.

Further Reading

  Reuters. “Sexual Assault Reports in U.S. Military Reach Record High: Pentagon.”NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 1 May 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sexual-assault-reports-u-s-military-reach-record-high-pentagon-n753566.

Healy, Melissa. “As Obesity Keeps Rising, More Americans Are Just Giving Up.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2017, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-fewer-americans-diet-20170308-story.html.

Myers, Meghann. “New in 2017: New Fitness Assessment to Go Combat Arms.” Army Times, Army Times, 18 Oct. 2017, http://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/12/19/new-in-2017-new-fitness-assessment-to-go-combat-arms/.
Willingham, Val. “Study: Rates of Many Mental Disorders Much Higher in Soldiers.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 Mar. 2014, http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/03/health/jama-military-mental-health/index.html.
What Military Recruiters Aren’t Telling Women: You’ll Face Disproportionate Health Risks

Battle of the Sexes: Men Work out More Than Women

Battle of the Sexes: Men Work Out More Than Women

This article from Shape magazine reveals a health disparity between the sexes. According to a study from Preventive Medicine  the average man gets more physical activity than the average woman. To people familiar with gym culture, fitness, or sports in general this is no surprise. However, it does indicate that women would disproportionately suffer negative health consequences due to inactivity. Osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, and even neurodegenerative diseases are risk factors for inactivity. Oregon State University too a sample of 1,000 men and women According to the data which was not self reported women only got 18 minutes of moderate to intense exercise, while men went to 30 minutes in a session. The data was collected from accelerometers recording total physical activity. It has been recommended that people should get at bare minimum 30 minutes of exercise a day. The problem is women are not getting enough which puts them at higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even depression. One in three women as suffer from metabolic syndrome. What are the possible reasons for this disparity? This question can be answered through sociological and biological factors.

        The text cites “some evidence indicates that women, compared to men, have less confidence in their ability to overcome exercise related barriers.” At first a reader would be perplexed by what that means. To elucidate their is a prejudice and sexism against women who show physical strength, skill,  and power. Simultaneously, women who do seek to improve physical fitness do have a lack of confidence at the beginning of their program. The weaker sex stereotype is still in the consciousness of many and some women are more vulnerable to it. This makes them believe their are certain activities they cannot do, simply because their biology does not allow it. The female body has been regarded as biologically and physically inferior, even though exercise physiology has discredited this notion. The gym and physical activity has been for a longtime thought to be solely a male domain. Gradually, with more women in sports this dated idea has diminished. Yet, sexist stereotypes and traditional gender roles still remain, even in an atmosphere of change. The idea that women can excel at something physical or athletic is considered unladylike. When a strong man shows his skill he is congratulated; when a woman does this she is condemned.

Unfortunately society judges women who are physically strong more harshly than men.  

Muscle and physical fitness are seen as something male only. This effects the way women view exercise throughout their lives. Women may internalize such negative attitudes. While it has been known that weightlifting has more benefits, women may focus on cardio for fear of “getting too big.” With little encouragement and a negative atmosphere women may just stop an exercise regimen all together. There is a segment of  the fitness industry that promotes weight loss for aesthetic purposes rather than health. The impact of body image is powerful, especially is one body type is constantly promoted in various media. If one is surrounded my one image or idea it can distort a person’s thinking. Too many women are attempting to change their bodies to an unattainable or unrealistic body ideal. Extreme cases lead to anorexia or bulimia, which occurs more in women. This is no accident and it is understandable why such a psychological disorder is prevalent. Women who have different body types are either disparaged or ostracized. Women who look different or want to alter their bodies are made into outcasts. If body image pressure is hard on the average woman it is even more intense on the female athlete. While there are sociological barriers, there are some that are biological. Male and female bodies are different, which means there will be a number of outcomes in fitness regimens. Women may have to adjust training to suit their endocrine and musculoskeletal attributes depending on what their goal is. Women on average have less muscular strength and aerobic capacity compared to the average man. Looser joints mean women could be more susceptible to injuries such as ACL tears. This does not mean women cannot handle exercise, it means it should be tailored to prevent injuries and enhance results. Some assume that women cannot gain strength or enhance fitness levels due to sex differences in physiology. Being female does not limit potential,because women can increase their strength and cardiovascular status.

 This will take longer for women to achieve. There are women who get discouraged when results do not happen immediately and quit. Like weight loss regimens, if one is not consistent it will fail. There is a constant inferiority complex that some women might feel that if it is anything physical or sports related, they will fail at. This psychological barrier has to be overcome. Men do not have this problem, because they are not taught to view their bodies as weak. There are differences, but this does not indicate inferiority. Body composition, lung as well as heart size, skeletal and muscle mass just indicate that men have higher physical fitness levels. While women have shown they are capable, that does not mean they have acceptance in the gym space. Traditionally, women were excluded from these areas.

There were only some exercises that were considered acceptable for women. Most were directed at making sure childbirth could be easier. The professional  medical community in the 19th century was not concerned about women’s health, just as long as women could produce children. They though rigorous exercise was bad for the female body and could harm her reproductive capacities. Such falsehoods were promoted by eugenicists and physical educators with the purpose of discouraging women from using their bodies. Although women had been participants in sports since ancient civilization, there has been a constant theme of women being discouraged from the use of their body.  The exercise related barriers are present to this day, even starting at an earlier age. Girls are not taught to throw or  learn other physical skills. If the do receive such instruction, it would only be in physical education. Even in that atmosphere the expectations are lowered. The physical standards for boys and girls in terms of the President’s  Council on Physical Fitness Award differ.

benchmarks_presidential_largeIt makes no sense that the standards are different between the ages of  6 to 13. The reason being is the endocrinological changes from puberty have not occurred. Some standards on the chart are the same, but others are not. Men do not start getting their strength spurt until the age 13, when testosterone production increases. This effects both the muscular and skeletal system giving men more strength. Early on girls seem to be viewed as not capable of playing sports or physical skill. This explains why “you throw like a girl” is used as an insult. There is a subtle sexism that remains in physical education and  is much ore vicious misogyny in sports. Childhood experiences mold what type of person one will be as an adult. If girls at at young age are told they are not capable, they will not attempt try. For both boys and girls their experiences in physical education will influence how they feel about exercise and physical activity. If a PE teacher makes the class unpleasant or dull students will take that negative attitude into adulthood.

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Exercise becomes associated with a chore or a pointless task, when it is essential to your health. The same can be said of children in youth sports. If soccer moms and football dads are too aggressive and pressure their children too much. This will only turn  them away from such activities as adults. They should get from such activities how to work in groups and discover the joy of play.  These exercise related barriers are influenced by environment and culture. Biology may also have influence as well. Boys seem to have more energy and it is harder for them to sit still. Girls seem more sedentary. It is unclear how much is this is cultural or biological. This may explain why to an extent more men gravitate to sports or physical activity. It has been suspected that their is a link between competitiveness and higher testosterone levels. These difference in behavior could be evidence of a human evolutionary past. Men’s desire for physical activity could have been essential in early hunter gatherer societies. Biology is important, but environment has just as great an impact.

       Environment and duties were cited as another reason women had difficulty getting involved in exercise. Childcare was cited as the main duty that women had to do, which effected their exercise pattern. The world has advanced in some ways, but in others it has not. Women are still expected to do all of the child rearing, with minimal help. Life is harder for single mothers who face both stigma and lack of sympathy. There is another problem. Everyone may not have money to afford a gym membership or have access to particular facilities. It should be remembered that conditions vary around the world, even with rapid technological advancement. Women in other nations not only have to deal with childcare, but also financially supporting the family. This is the case in lesser developed nations in which the economy is agriculturally based.Women are to an extent privileged in the West. Daycare services may not be present in certain regions of particular countries.

While there are challenges for the global south nations, the first world nations have another problem. Modern society has caused a new set of health issues. Being overweight  or obese has become more prevalent, seeing as technology has eliminated many manual labor jobs. A majority of occupations or professions do not require much physical activity at all. There are few remaining ones, yet these will gradually disappear when artificial intelligence and robotic automation become more advanced. Combine with a more competitive, fast paced, and regimented workplace severe stress and depression are ubiquitous. The slow paced labor of agricultural and artisan society was eliminated by the industrial revolution. This changed the health of populations , which can be seen today. People are living longer, but the price is that the chances of getting a chronic disease have increased. Abundance is not always a positive development. The surplus in food has made it so that eating out of boredom is a common activity. Unhealthy habits become stress reducers in a society that is too uptight. There are still large numbers of people who smoke and consume alcohol to excess, even when they know the health risks. Rather than just making time for exercise, mentality has to change. Dedication and discipline must be maintained to change habits. If you environment does not encourage will power or self control then  it is more difficult. Time should not be the enemy; we make to for matters that are important to us. This can also be circumvent if a busy schedule gets in a person’s way. Using the stairs or standing can be enough to burn some calories. Short periods of exercise is better than nothing. Doing push ups or sit ups before bed could be useful.

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Environment can effect health and exercise habits in a population. Increasing exercise can help improve health, but these gains could be lost if pollution and climate change effect the population.  The daily routine of most people seems to involve too much sitting. A sedentary lifestyle causes numerous health issues. For women who on average live longer it can harm the quality of life.

         As we age the body becomes more vulnerable to disease. There can be prevention through exercise and diet. Women have lower bone density. As people age ossification slows and cannot rapidly build bone mass as it used to. Women would be at higher risk for osteoporosis if they are not doing some form of load bearing exercise. Building bone mass is critical to skeletal health. Doing so allows people to be more mobile in old age.  weight training exercise can also maintain muscular strength. Women would lose more considering they have less in terms of body composition. This can also be reversed through physical activity. Maintaining a functioning circulatory system also is essential to health. Heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure do not only harm the circulatory system, but the entire body. Blocked arteries can effect organs, which need blood.

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It has been hypothesized that being active protects the brain from neurodegenerative disease. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease  have been increasing in elderly populations. Their causes are not entirely known or understood, but symptoms such as death of neurons and the loss of memory are common. This causes cerebral atrophy and the widening of the brain  ventricles. There is a possible connection that a compromised circulatory system damage could contribute to neurodegenerative  disease.  There have yet to be precise studies, so it remains speculative. Having some physical activity may actually be good for your nervous system than previous thought. Not only that learning and keeping the mind active is just as pivotal. Excess body fat can put strain on the skeleton and possibly a risk for certain cancers. Joints are also put under intense strain from excess weight. Women are more at risk from gaining excess weight due to how food is metabolized in their bodies and the function of estrogen. Estrogen produces higher levels of fat, which means it is more difficult for women to lose weight. Even the slimmest or most muscular woman has a higher fat percentage compared to a man of a similar somatotype.

Body Scan
Body scans of an overweight person and a person of normal weight show how excess weight can negatively effect health. 

Other than the personal risk to  individuals, there is the question remains of healthcare systems. If the population of a nation lives longer and does not have an adequate healthcare system, there will be a crisis. A huge population of sick people means it will be a public health crisis. Another troubling problem is that children are also having weight related health issues as well. Obesity continues to rise in the US and UK. This could be reversed not only with a change in diet and the reduced use of high fructose corn syrup, but simple exercise. It does not have to be intense. Simple walks or jogs could  be effective. High fat and sugar diets are creating health problems in youth as well as adults. Women getting less exercise is a urgent health issue. Women’s health commonly focuses on pregnancy, diseases or conditions of the reproductive system, and differences in how the female body reacts in certain health and medical conditions. There should be more study and expansion to include women’s physical activity. The reason is that the health risk of physical  inactivity  would be too high.

Battle of the Sexes: Men Work out More Than Women

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

In The Future Women Will Be Amazons

This article written Matt Novak explores an newspaper released published in 1950. The name of it was “How Experts Think We Will Live in the Year 2000 A.D.”  and it makes predictions based on thoughts from the editors. Futurology and future studies became popular in the 20th century due to rapid technological and sociological change. When the Associated Press ran this piece, two World Wars had happened, cars, airplanes were in use and computers were gradually developing into what they are today. Futurism and futurology more specifically attempts to postulate possible outcomes , perspectives  or futures. It these academic fields are more related to the social sciences. What this branch of study seeks to do is understand why the world changes and the probability of change. To the futurologist there is a pattern in past and present. This method however has its limits. The problem with prediction is that it almost becomes the equivalent to a person reading tarot cards. Some cases these prediction about human society can be completely wrong. There was a time in which humanity was excited about the future. There was an idea that technology, progress,  and the elimination of conflict would create societal utopia. Some believed that by the 21st century humanity would have mastered interstellar travel and cured most diseases. This has not happened. While humankind has reached the moon, there are still the some sociological problems plaguing the world. There has been some advancement in terms of human rights, public health, and the availability of education. War, poverty, and racism threaten human advancement. When discussing the state of women there is a fluctuation. Dorothy Roe one of the editors of the article, described what the typical woman would be like in the year 2000. Her prediction about women entering the world of business and government has occurred. Roe states that the average woman will be six feet tall, wear a size 11 shoe, and have muscles like a truck driver.” It is now the year 2017 and the average woman does not have the muscles of truck driver or is above six feet tall. There are obviously stronger and faster women athletes who fit this description. Her futurist prediction was partly off, yet not entirely wrong. Examining this futurist prediction from a sociological, anatomical, biological, and physiological method could have provided a more precise picture.

      Women have been in some instances in a  subordinate role through out human history. This however was not always the case. Before the rise of long lasting human civilization hunter gatherer societies in some respects were more equal. The rise of agriculture, land ownership, and property created the inequality that is present in modern society. Men had access to more property and land. Simultaneously, women were denied education, equal rights, or full employment. This did not mean women simply accepted oppression. Before feminism, there were female leaders, scientists, and mover’s of history. The tragic element was that historians did not think enough of women to include their narratives. Thankfully, women’s history seeks to reverse this mistake. Historical figures such as Hatshetpsut, Nzinga, Queen Elizabeth I, and Joan of Arc are notable women who had risen to prominence in male dominated societies.

The news piece states the amazon of the future “may even be president.” The way in which that though was expressed made it seem as if a female leader was a new concept. The futurist prediction only examines that world through an American perspective. Other countries have female leaders, but at that time it was far less. Now it has increased across the world. Some female leaders have left their mark on history for good or bad, but have shown they have mastered the art of politics. The United States has not yet elected a female president, despite its rhetoric of supporting women’s rights. Although Hillary Clinton lost, it encouraged more women to run for political office. Women have even been leaders in countries, which do not value them as citizens or protect their rights. Benazir Bhutto and Indira Gandhi  governed nations in which had an ultraconservative view of women’s roles. Benazir  Bhutto was the first female leader of a majority Muslim nation, while Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. The US still lags behind compared with the UK which has had two Prime Ministers to date which included Margaret Thatcher and currently Theresa May. The irony is that their policies are not in alignment with women’s rights or causes. Ellen Sirlef  of Liberia and Tsai Ing Wen of Taiwan represent a new female leader of the 21st century. They vary in political ideology, do not refer to themselves as feminists, and are tactical.

One cannot not say women are not capable politicians. Largely a culture of misogyny has kept women out of politics. There have been biological explanations for why men have domination of society. These theories normally just are designed to justify sexist convictions. History disproves this, because women have been involved in science, politics, warfare, and the building of civilization. The gender gap is still present even when women make progress. The world of business and finance is a place where women have reached a glass ceiling. Discrimination, unequal pay, and sexual harassment are the sociological reasons why women may not advance in certain fields. Even under these unfavorable conditions women are present in occupations that were thought to be male only. Law enforcement, firefighting, the military, construction,  and sports are physically demanding occupations. Due to differences in physiological and fitness capacity women would remain small in number in these occupations. However, despite such obstacles women have become part of these professions. While sociological factors are relevant, biological factors cannot be ignored entirely.

If a society has less technology a majority of jobs would be manual labor based. This could theoretically exclude many women, beside the obvious prejudice. The rise of the industrial revolution saw the replacement of brawn power with machine power. This should have benefited women the most, but cultural mores and gender roles prevented it. Women were regulated to the domestic sphere excluded from public life and participation in it. The working classes had women in menial occupations, with even less independence. Women’s status and roles have fluctuated through out history. There were periods in which they had some freedom and as time passed society degenerated. Ancient Egyptian civilization allowed women to own property and have some legal rights to it. They were not burdened by male guardianship and navigate freely, which Greek historian Herodotus called unnatural. As monotheistic religion emerged, women’s status was then lowered. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam demanded that women have a subordinate role in their religious texts and belief system. Women were regulated to property and not people. The rise of the suffrage movement in the 19th century evolved in the feminist movement of the 20th century. Women then gradually regained their status as free people, while facing  backlash to change. The sudden change in women’s status is part of a consistent pattern in human history. There may come a time in which women create large corporations and companies of their own. Society and civilization is never static it is always evolving.

        The article predicts that the average woman in the year 2000 will have proportions that are perfect though amazonian, because “science will have perfected a  balanced  ration of vitamins, minerals, and proteins that will produce the maximum bodily efficiency and a minimum of fat. ” Dorthy Roe then says “she will compete in all types of sports- probably compete with men athletes in football, baseball, wrestling  and prize fighting.” There is no denying that women in sports and athletics have become very strong, but competing with men on average seems to be inaccurate.

Women now compete in most sports, however there are no organized teams for baseball. Women have teams for softball, but there remains work to be done in some areas. Women do have organized football teams, yet they do not have the coverage comparative to the NFL. The strength sports thought to be out of women’s physiological capabilities, are active in. Mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, weightlifting, track and field are areas in which women are showing their talents. Women’s participation in sport has increased, yet mixed competition has not occurred. The reason is anatomical. There exists an athletic performance gap between the sexes due to anatomical factors. Men on average have broader shoulders and more upper body strength. Generally men grow taller than women. While the muscular and skeletal cells are the same their structure changes athletic outcomes. Denser bones and larger muscle fibers mean males would have more absolute strength. The smaller hearts and lungs of women mean that their aerobic capacity would be lower. The major organ systems that contribute to athletic performance include the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, the nervous system, endocrine system, and the musculoskeletal  system. Movement is not just dependent on muscle, but the impulses of the nervous system. The hormones produced by the endocrine system do influence athletic performance. Testosterone allows for greater muscular hypertrophy. Women with lighter bones and smaller muscle mass in comparison means they are more susceptible to injury the more intense the physical competition. There is a point in which absolute strength levels are equal. Prior to puberty boys and girls do not differ in physical strength. Girls may experience thier growth spurt earlier compared to boys. When gondadotropin releasing hormone is produced by the pituitary gland it then signals the production of lutienizing  and follicle producing hormone. Thus begins the production of sex hormones and growth hormone. Estrogen makes the female body retain more fat. Even the most muscular woman and the thinnest woman still retain a higher fat percentage compared to a man of a similar physical fitness level.

Tendons and ligaments are also contributors to body strength. Women’s tendons may not respond the same way to training, but their looser joints make them more flexible. This means women would dominate gymnastics and figure skating even if their was mixed competition. A wider pelvis and lower aerobic capacity means that women would struggle to keep up with male speeds. Contrary to popular belief women do not have stronger legs than men, but are relative closer in strength in that area. However, despite these differences, women can still acquire physical strength through training. Genetics do play a role giving women of a mesomorphic body type more of an advantage. The average woman has not morphed into an amazon quite yet, but there is a group that could fall into Roe’s description. While nutrition has improved, there is the problem of abundance. Foods high in sugar, fats, and high fructose corn syrup have created a problem with obesity and weight related diseases. Women are particularly effected more by this, considering it is more of a challenge for them to lose weight. The modern age has produce a very sedentary lifestyle, with limited physical activity. As a result heart disease, diabetes, and weight management issues have increased. This has not only happened in the United States, but is spreading across the globe. A low vegetable, fruit, and protein diet can result in poor health. It seems if this is not addressed the average woman and man will look similar to blobs. This can be reversed through diet, exercise, and honest nutrition labeling. Roe’s other prediction seems to have realized the effectiveness of supplements for athletes. Women can benefit as much as men from the use of vitamins and supplements. This has become a lucrative industry and has greatly benefited athletes and the general public. Recent investigations into the importance of vitamin D and it is now believed it is essential to muscular and skeletal function.

The women who are involved in athletic competition, not only have to focus on training but maintain a strict diet. This requires a good knowledge base of of nutrition. From the early 20th century to present exercise physiologists have figured out the role of nutrition in athletic performance. Understanding that women’s metabolism functions differently has led to the structuring of  more efficient training programs. Women still must eat to feed growing muscle,but is should be understood that more of that food could be metabolized into fat. That is why activity level should be adjusted to compensate for the endocrinological function. Even though women have proven to be great athletes, male performances levels are still higher. This extends beyond anatomy, but to biology.

          The difference in physical fitness capacity is rooted in biology, through human evolution. Sexual dimorphism is the reason why on average men are stronger. Most primates demonstrate a degree of sexual dimorphism. These are attributes that are secondary sex characteristics, which exclude the reproductive system. During the course of human evolution the size and strength difference may have been a natural selection tool. Male authralopiths most likely fought each other for access to mates. Larger size and strength would have given an edge to the hominin who wanted to spread his genes. The females did not have to fight, so therefore it was easier to just pick a victor in a struggle. While it is hard to test this theory, it can be seen in mating strategies of modern primates. Gorillas function with a male who heads a harem of females. When another gorilla challenges him he will fight to maintain dominance. So, over time the strength and size genes continued to be propagated in the primates species. A changes in environment can influence evolution. When our early ancestors got access to more protein based diets, endocranial  volume increased. Between six and two million years ago brain size increased. Around 17,000 years ago homo sapiens became the only survivor on the evolutionary tree. Evolution was not a linear progression, but a series of branches that came from divergence.

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Humanity occupies the homo branch, with the other species becoming extinct. Relevant to the future woman is it possible that given the right conditions that average woman can become stronger? Evolution has the power to change the body structure of organisms so it would seem like a possibility. During the process of human evolution the body went from being heavily built to adapt to colder climates ( 400,000 years ago) to a lighter body ( 50,000 to 20,000 years ago ). Internally the intestines became shorter to accommodate an omnivorous diet. Assuming what is known about human evolution is correct, theoretically it could take millions of years for women to change their physiology. This certainly could not be witness in our current lifetime. Still with a sudden change it will also effect men as well. The article predicted that women’s height would increase. If women changed it would men could see an increase in height as well due to the genetic attributes of sexual dimorphism.

If men already have the genetic trait for more  height, it is likely it would not disappear because natural selection has favored it. Only when it is no longer favored will it disappear. It should also be understood  many elements of a species can be adaptable. There are women who are stronger than men and taller. They are not the average, but have inherited traits that have been passed down generations. The reason that certain species survive is that they have a variation in genetic information, can acclimate to various environments, and pass on genes through offspring to ensure survival. The phrase “survival of the fittest ” is not a correct description. By all standards homo neanderthalensis should have survived based on the fact it was physically stronger. They survived a colder climate. but died out after 30,000 years ago. They could not adapt to the changing environment. Homo sapiens did mainly due to their increased reasoning skills. Nature favored brains over brawn and humanity began to spread through out the Earth, except Antarctica. Sexual dimorphism continues to be a physical trait that proves human evolution. Humanity and other organisms continue to evolve depending on the condition of their environment. Humanity has acquire such a vast knowledge of science it will be possible to manipulate our own biology. This could be done through genetic engineering, surgery, and technology itself.

            There are physiological difference that exist that products of sexual dimorphism. Men have more type II muscle fibers, while women have more type I. Muscular contraction is essential for movement or any athletic performance. Muscular endurance describes how long the muscular contraction can last. Men  and women can have similar levels of muscular endurance. Women may have more, because they fatigue slower. When comparing men and women of a similar size men would still have more upper body strength. When the size is held constant it is estimated that women could be at least 80% as strong. The remaining percentage points account for the upper body disparity.  Cardiovascular physiology  plays a role in oxygen transport. During exercise oxygen is transported to the muscles to form adenosine triphosphate. This then provides energy for muscular contraction. Hemoglobin housed within red blood cells has to transport oxygen from the lungs to other tissues of the body. Larger lungs and hearts contribute to men’s 50% greater aerobic power. Women however may have an easier time converting glycogen into energy, which aids in endurance. Women’s higher fat levels are useful in long distance swimming and running, because it can aids in metabolism. Estrogen-B could also be responsible for fatigue resistance during muscular contraction in women. A combination of biological, anatomical, and physiological factors explain the gap in athletic performance. There can also be overlap, but this is explained by unique physiology of particular individuals.

Women's growth

Tall
Women have grown taller, but the average height is not six feet tall. 

Dorthy Roe’s prediction make the mistake of not taking into account particular factors. If this were to be average as she claimed it would mean that every woman would have to have the same nutrition and access to certain opportunities. Then genetics plays a role in the possible maximum physical potential. Then it also has to do with choice. How many women would actually want to achieve that level strength? The hilarious aspect of this prediction was the statement “muscles of a truck driver.” Driving a truck requires little physical strength. The job is mostly sedentary and therefore would not be the best for your health. Sitting too long for extended periods of time has been linked to heart related and weight issues. The question remains why are there not more women truck drivers? Again, discrimination is an obvious answer, but personal choice is another. Job seekers will only go to jobs that could benefit them the most economically. Companies may just not try to recruit women, even if they have positions opened. Despite this, there are women who are involved in trucking.

The only difference is that the truck has to be ergonomically designed to suit the female driver. All trucks have to in order to make the seat comfortable for the driver. Driving long periods of time in one particular position could cause back and neck issues. Part of the problem is that people still think their are men’s jobs and women’s jobs in the workforce. This dated concept not only harms women, but could be hindering economic growth. A functional economy must have a low unemployment rate to keep consumption up. Women must be part of the workforce to maintain economic stability. There are some occupations in which women’s numbers may still remain smaller relative to men’s due to differences in maximum physiological capacity. This does not mean there will not be any women in those positions. There are women who, even with the noted sex differences can outperform many men.

The female athlete will be in better shape or either just as strong or stronger than the average man depending on which training regimen is used. So, in this sense the prediction was only a part truth. A group of women have become stronger physically across the world who compete in both local and  international sports competition. The total number of women on Earth have not become physically stronger. Health has improved as indicated by women’s increased life expectancy . Women have the edge in terms of durational strength, living longer in most cases. The wonderful element about humanity is that it is diverse and can be flexible with its environments.

There can be strong women who are short. Tall women who are not the strongest or women of average build. The same can also be with men as well. The genetic variation protects the human species from genetically inherited diseases. That diversity helps, but has not completely eliminated such ailments. The article does not say that the average woman will become physiologically similar to a man, just that she will reach at higher fitness level. The implication that women will be able to compete en mass with men in mixed competition does not seem probable. However, there is a possibility that individual elite female athletes could beat an elite male athlete. There it would be presumptuous to say that it could never happen. It is just at the moment is not happening in the future Dorthy Roe predicted. A hypothesis should not be a mere prediction, but thoughtful estimation of probable outcomes.

Women still have to work harder to attain a high level of physical fitness. While their are women who have more natural strength than others, they are a unique exception. More training just enhances their physical potential. There is a new phenomenon. Women are now competing in sports at larger numbers compared to the past. Women’s involvement in sports dates back to the ancient world being documented in Greek and Egyptian civilization. There has never been a period in history to date in which women have embrace sports and physical fitness to this extent. Not only that, but women are seeking to build as much muscle and strength for their particular sports. While their is traditional backlash and divide in public opinion there is a portion of people who are embracing this change. The physiques that women display across various sports would be inconceivable  to many 200 years ago. Some women it seems have become the amazons of the future.

       It is clear that women have enter areas that sole were male domains. The change in women’s status is spreading not just in the West, but in the Global South. Status and progress in a society depends on the historical, sociological, and political situation. There is a possibility that civilization could collapse from mass global warfare, dramatic climate change, pandemics, or economic instability. Such events would mean the reversal of progress and even the end of humanity itself. When the fabric of society is unstable women and other marginalized groups suffer the most. Women could lose the little rights and opportunities they have if there were a change in political regime. Active organizing and vigilance can prevent such occurrences. A faction of futurist believe that in the coming years the world will become a better place. Like the utopian science fiction of the early 20th century, it seems out of reach. Both World Wars and the following Cold War proved that The Jetsons like future seems more imaginary. There is more advanced technology, but with it comes other problems. Roe’s predictions fall into the more utopia version of futurism. Her predictions would not seem so outrageous if she did not say that the average woman would be an amazon in terms of physique. As for height, women have not on average reached the six foot range. The tallest women in the world live in Latvia and the Netherlands. When Roe was writing this, she was only thinking about America.

Height chart

The US does not place in the current record of tallest men and women. This does not mean we do not have our own tall people. It should be no surprise that experts writing this in 1950 were off. They did not have a vast body of knowledge to base predictions on and human evolution was still though of as a linear progression rather than a series of branches coming from a root. The more precise assessment that could have been stated is that women of the future would greatly enhance their physical fitness capacity. Title IX was and continues to be an important law that allowed for many American women to become active in sports. Those women who first benefited from it went on to be top performing Olympic athletes and  the law still continues to make this possible. That is an example of how when barriers are removed  the numbers increased. Then another development happened that was not just in the US, but seems to be spreading around the world. Women who are enthusiastic about weightlifting are becoming serious competitors. It was not until the year 2000 that women’s weightlifting was added to the Olympic Games. Maybe the prediction of Roe’s amazons was not entirely incorrect.

Prior to women’s weightlifting, women had worked out with weights. This was mainly in bodybuilding, which had its origins in the 1970s. The early pioneers of women’s strength sports worked out with weight even when the gyms tried to prevent them from going to such sections and faced harsh ostracism. Now, it does not seem so abnormal to see even the average woman doing some weight training. Their intent may not be to be a professional athlete, but to simply maintain and control body weight. Women are no longer afraid to show physical strength or actual muscular development. Dorothy Roe may have predicted accurately what the average female athlete would be like. The average woman could vary between ectomorphic, endomorphic, and mesomorphic body structure. Height as well will vary as seen from sets of data. The conclusion would thus have to be modified. The average woman will be participating in various fields in the future. Improved health, physical activity, and nutrition will mean some women will reach physiological capacities greater than previously thought. Technology although helpful may cause adverse health effects that lead to a sedentary life style. The tendency for futurologists to be sensationalist leads to imprecise conclusions. To make precise assessments, one most take a rational method of analysis.

“In The Future, All Women Will Be Amazons” From The Smithsonian

What is an Alcoholic by Kortney Olsen

Kortney Olsen bodybuilder and champion armwrestler explains what alcoholism is in this video. Modern medicine now has come to the realization that addiction is a disease. It has both biological and sociological factors. Chemical dependence alters the function of particular neurotransmitters. There is also a human cost. Families become dysfunctional when a member becomes subject to addiction. Children with parents who are alcoholics live in unstable households. Kortney speaks about her struggles with addiction and being a child of an alcoholic parent. Alcoholism is a broad based term, but is not specifically a disease. It can sometimes be classified as a psychiatric condition known as alcohol dependence syndrome. There are many reasons why people become alcoholics. Stress, life trauma, genetic factors, and availability of substances. Then there is limited self control. While Korntey says it has nothing to do will power, this is not entirely true. Living in a society of abundance encourages people to over indulge and be excessive in various areas of life. Through counseling, interventions, and medical research alcoholism can be effectively fought.

What is an Alcoholic by Kortney Olsen