Why I Love The Liverwort And What Has That Got To Do With Safe Exercise?


Hi folks,

A tree outside of Subway, in Chapel Hill, NC, with street lights (not flying saucers) in the background.

A tree outside of Subway, in Chapel Hill, NC, with streetlights (not flying saucers) in the background.

Life is a series of branches, and each choice that you make will define your future, to a greater or lesser extent, for the rest of your life. This is what is so interesting about the all-pervasive presence of physical branching in nature, where life or death decisions are also made. I attended a lecture many years ago on the branching of the airways in the lungs of mammals, including humans, and this lecture was most fascinating. You might think, branching airways, no big deal. But you would be wrong. Each branch angle, location, and the diameters and shapes of the daughter airways, influence local airflow, and thus airflow resistance, which can make the difference on a larger scale with respect to capturing prey, escaping a predator, or disappearing into the mists of extinction. If you look around you will see that trees and shrubs vary greatly in their branching patterns, and these patterns are not the result of happenstance, but the long process of natural selection that finally resulted in the mastery of survival in a selected niche.

A beautiful Thallose Liverwort. From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchantiophyta

A beautiful Thallose Liverwort.

The niche, or chosen home of the common liverwort, a member of the Marchantiophyta, fascinated me as a teenager. I was an odd kid, really, spending my time trying to identify grasses or small insects, whilst most of my fellows were watching an incomprehensible cacophony called ‘Top of the Pops.’ I think I understand now that they were enjoying emotions that I was going to discover many years later. In the meantime, I was really enjoying my study of plant and animal life, and then I came across the liverwort. It kind of took my breath away. You find them hidden in damp places where water flows essentially perpetually. The largest population I ever saw was under a waterfall near the small, and delightful town of Sligo, in Ireland, where I also enjoyed a seaweed bath.

Bar flower in Southern Season, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Bar flower in Southern Season, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The liverwort preceded the flowering plants, with which we love to decorate our homes, lives and other places. But you have to remember, we are all distant cousins, related via a stream of common ancestors, which is beautifully portrayed in Chez Ollie – I strongly recommend this book to you, if you have any interest whatsoever in your origins. This gives new meaning to the expression, ‘Chez Ollie.’

And what has this to do with safe exercise for better health, you might ask? Everything! To find your sport or exercise, you need to find your niche. The place where you thrive without forcing yourself. Some prefer to sail, others dance, some lift heavy weights, and others climb high mountains, but the happy ones do it for the love of it. The common liverwort sure looks to be the master of its niche, working away to survive happily on this planet, as you might work or exercise to overcome an illness or avoid one. See if you can find these ‘humble’ little plants one day. You might come to love them as I do, who knows?

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workouts:

Workout PLAN Coach: Chris Hauth
Duration: 01:30:00
5-7′ warm up jog
40′ at Z2 running HR – steady
then: 6×1′ VERY fast, upper Z3, low Z4 running with Z2 30 recovery.
10′ at Z2 running HR – steady
15′ at Z3 running HR – good form
10′ warm down jogZ2 30 recovery = see your HR recover down to Z2 range and remain there for 30 seconds before you go into the next effort.


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.