Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Exercise?

We keep hearing about the shrinking workforce, or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls, “The Labor Force Participation Rate”.  Since Barack Obama was elected, the size of the workforce, that is the number of Americans working or seeking work, has dropped precipitously from 66% to 63.6% (source: BLS*).  This is the first time since such measurements were made (1948) that the rate has gone down like that.  Why?

Here’s a thought experiment:  Suppose a law was passed that guaranteed everyone an average lifespan, but no more.  Medical professionals would annually predict the overall average life expectancy, and that would be it.  The sick would have their lives extended up to that average age by every means available.  Everyone, sick or healthy, would be terminated when they hit the average life expectancy age.   In other words, you would would be guaranteed the exact same lifespan as your drug addicted, cigarette smoking neighbor, regardless of your health condition. 

What do you suppose would happen to the fitness craze?  Would Americans spend hours running, weight lifting, cycling, and eating healthy foods knowing the longest they could possibly live would be…average?  What would be the marginal advantage of staying healthy?  What would happen to cheesecake consumption rates for those over, say, 60?  In other words, what would happen to the “Fitness Force Participation Rate”? 
Also, what would happen to the average lifespan over time, would it go up or down?