Economic Muscle

Health & Wellness

The American economy is strong, but as with any muscle, it needs periods of both exertion and rest to grow.

Normally, I keep my observations in this column to those matters that are directly connected to exercise, nutrition and general wellness practices. But, I am seeing a trend lately which I feel needs comment. The 2016 primary election cycle and the Republicans’ downward spiral into rage, bigotry and outright dishonesty has to be countered with reason, composure and calm optimism.

The American economy is a muscular system. It’s capable of impressive feats of strength. If the world’s economies were in a bodybuilding contest, the USA would take Mr. Olympia practically every year. I can see already that some people will push back against my metaphor with a comment about steroids, but hear me out.

Muscles require the following to grow: intense sessions of work, proper nutrition and plenty of rest.

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When muscles encounter resistance, more fibers have to be recruited to move against that resistance. Sometimes the exertion is performed slow, sometimes fast. Sometimes the muscles pull against gravity, sometimes they resist moving toward gravity. Whatever the training method, the point is that the muscular group performs as an integrated system to create work.

Once the work is done, there is a mess to clean up. The work has torn the muscles at the microscopic level. Food and water have to be invested to provide the necessary resources for building blocks and waste removal. This allows growth to continue. Energy has to be spent, even after the work has stopped, to sustain what has been accomplished.

Then there is rest. This component of growth is constantly overlooked and consistently undervalued. Rest is the only time long-term growth happens in the muscle. It may look like wasted time; however, this is when healing allows newly formed fibers to settle and become“permanent.” You don’t want to rest too much, or you will lose the momentum built during the work phase. But, you also don’t want to work to the point of systemic failure. Injuries that result from too little nutrition or rest will force you to stop work altogether. Once you finally recover, then you have to try to catch back up to where you already were.

So then, what does all that exercise have to do with our economy?

There are times in our history when we have experienced both unbridled growth and terrible injuries. But, what has also consistently happened is that we have recovered and continued to make gains. We work hard, and we grow. Even after we tore our Achilles tendon and got crippled during The Great Depression, we still came back and won all the medals.

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Right now the Republicans are making extraordinarily irresponsible claims about impending doom and gloom. They somehow deny that we have recovered from The Great Recession, despite the DOW being treble what it was in 2008 and an unemployment rate near 5 percent. They want people to be afraid and angry.

This is preposterous.

Recently, Warren Buffet made the point that every middle class person in the world (and many impoverished people) has better access to technology, information, healthcare and entertainment options than Rockefeller had 100 years ago. Despite all his millions, Rockefeller couldn’t buy what most people now take for granted. We have made huge improvements to quality of life, and we will continue to do so.

Is the economy exactly as we would like? No. But, that doesn’t mean we’ve blown out our rotator cuff and will never lift again. It simply means we had some mildly disappointing workouts where we didn’t get quite as much done as we wanted. But, we’re still stronger than we were, and we can still make plenty of gains. We shouldn’t abandon good lifting techniques and proper diet just because the visible six pack abs we want are slower to come than we had hoped.

Lift, eat, sleep, repeat. That is the formula for growth. Now, let’s go grab the gold!

info: Jack Kirven completed the MFA in Dance at UCLA, and earned certification as a personal trainer through NASM. His wellness philosophy is founded upon integrated lifestyles as opposed to isolated workouts. Visit him at and He is also a former staff writer for qnotes.

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