Standing on Shoulders

An aspect of some “modern” compared with more traditional societies is the lesser appreciation of people who have “gone before”. Partly this is due to the speed of activity and change in modern life. Inherent in modern society and its economic systems is new knowledge, novel ideas and “new , improved whatever”.

New ideas of real value in today’s world are built upon solid foundations laid by past thought leaders and leading practitioners from diverse fields. We stand on those people’s shoulders. They have enabled us to be where we are now.

Take “Jerry” Morris. This appreciation of him from 2009 is still available online https://www.ft.com/content/e6ff90ea-9da2-11de-9f4a-00144feabdc0 headlined “The man who invented exercise”.

Ralph S. Paffenbarger Jr., a peer of similar stature in medical research, described Professor Morris, in 2000 as he turned 90, as “a renowned physician-epidemiologist who has made landmark scientific contributions to our understanding of physical exercise and dietary intake as they affect risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD, or heart attack), and to our understanding of the role of social inequalities in risk of disease”.

Having qualified as a medical doctor in 1934, in the early post second world war years Professor Morris led a number of research studies into the incidence of heart disease and its relationship with activity levels during work and leisure. The publication of his research in the Lancet during 1953, drawing attention to a clear correlation between activity levels, their degree of vigour and rates of heart disease set in train our current deep and widespread knowledge of lifestyle and its influence on our health and wellbeing.

All of us who now know, from reading, observation and practical experience, that progressive exercise, healthy nutrition, good hydration, effective breathing, supportive relationships and reinvigorating rest and sleep can ensure our wellbeing and health endure into old age have been influenced by Jerry Morris.

As we draw on elements of that vast body of now accrued knowledge, confident in and enjoying our own good health and appreciating the wonders of human physiology, we all stand on Professor Morris’s shoulders.

crbt 06.02.21

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