Sunday, November 6, 2011

Risk Reduction

Over the course of my engineering career I learned a lot about doing things safely - and designing processes so they would minimize the risk of harm to people or the environment. I found that companies today are extremely risk averse when it comes to the potential for damage to people or the environment, and spend a lot of time and effort to assure a focus on safety.

In fact, as I now write technical articles on the techniques I use in restoring clocks I include a section in each article discussing the safety issues that need to be addressed.

And yet, the same people who spend hours and hours discussing the impact of a small design change on the safety of a process or piece of equipment eat large meals that are anything but healthy and then manage to convince themselves that they have no time to workout.

Don’t let the above statement give you the wrong impression - I really admire and respect the people I worked with - and I grieve as each of them die younger than they should because they have not been willing to reduce risks in their own lives.

In point of fact, I am getting rather tired of finding out that another has died.

I got a note from a friend who I met when riding bicycles up and down mountains on dirt roads in the rain in Costa Rica. Oh, it was cold too, and the wind was nasty. He asked if there was anything driving my workout routine other than staying in good shape/health. I suppose I could respond that I wanted to be able to go back and ride up big mountains on dirt roads in the rain, but I am not actually sure I really want to - have you ever climbed into a shower with your clothes on just so you could get enough mud off the back of your clothes that you could take them off? Or had to scoop sand and gravel out of the shower to keep from blocking the drain? Nope, not sure I want to head back to Costa Rica, but I want to be fit enough that I could ride up and down mountains in the cold rain if I was stupid enough to want to.

The real reason I work out is that it reduces risks - let’s see - eaxercise reduces the risk of some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity, dementia, stroke, osteoporosis - the following article chronicles physical and mental health conditions that are improved by exercise: Science Daily Article

An extensive research review, published in the December 2010 issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice, says that apart from not smoking, being physically active is the most powerful lifestyle choice any individual can make to improve their health.

Besides, working out keeps me fit so I can do things I want to do. And so I can look like I am 40, not 57, and can have blood work that suggests that I am perhaps 30.

I realize as I write that I should perhaps soft pedal some of this, so I don’t come across as a raving exercise freak. But, in truth, I likely am a raving exercise freak. Michael, my work out bud, once commented: “It’s no fun doing something you are not good at”. He’s right - and there is a corollary to that. Getting really good at doing something makes it really fun.

Doing things - making yourself satisfied with yourself - engenders happiness!

In the posts to come I plan to talk about other ways that we can reduce the risks in our lives.

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