Longevity and the Ethics of Human Movement

In my book KineSophy: The Ethics of Human Movement (see sidebar on right) and previous articles (see The Ethics of Human Movement, Part 1 and Part 2), I proposed the following ethical precepts for human movement:

  1. A human being should be able to lift his or her own body weight off the ground.
  2. A human being should be able to maintain a comfortable resting squat position for at least ten minutes.
  3. A human being should be able to travel 5000 meters (3.11 miles) on foot in thirty-six minutes.

Longevity and the Ethics of Human MovementIn the same book and in two other articles on this blog (see Why Be Fit? Hedonism and Altruism), I argued that those who care about some ethical value also have reason to care about their own physical fitness. One strand of these arguments says that those who are more fit will live longer, thus giving them the opportunity to indulge in more sensual pleasures or provide more good for others.

However, I never actually connected one argument to the other. I spoke generally about improving one’s physical fitness in order to live a more ethical life, but I never argued that being stronger, more mobile or more enduring would help you achieve your ethical goals.

But it turns out that the physical abilities addressed by three ethical precepts for human movement just are three biomarkers for longevity. In other words, if you improve your fitness in these three areas, chances are you will live longer and have more opportunities to perform the acts you believe are good.

Here are three scientific studies that link strength, mobility and cardiovascular endurance to longevity:

  1. Strength: Muscle strength as a predictor of long-term survival in severe congestive heart failure
  2. Mobility: Ability to sit and rise from the floor as a predictor of all-cause mortality
  3. Endurance: Relationship Between Low Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Mortality in Normal-Weight, Overweight, and Obese Men