Chapter109ChapterTraining: physical itness and strengthening It is no secret that physical training is good for our health. Scientiic studies have repeatedly shown that becoming physically it enhances general health and can help to prevent or reduce the debilitating efects of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, dia-betes, arthritis, and a variety of other chronic medical disorders. Physical training and mastering physical challenges can also improve mood, cognition and emotional resilience. Many of the resilient individuals we interviewed have a regular habit of exercise and believe that staying it has helped them, both during their traumatic ordeals and during their recovery. In fact, some of them credit physical exercise with saving their lives. Surviving with the Air Force 5BX and the “daily dozen” Korean War veteran Lew Meyer, whom we have mentioned earlier in the book, was a civilian ireighter working for the military in South Vietnam when his post in Hue was overrun by North Vietnamese soldiers during the Tet ofensive in 1968. Ater three days of ighting, Meyer and 12 others were captured and force-marched through the jungle for an arduous ive months, ultimately reaching Skid Row Prison, 60 km northwest of Hanoi. here Lew was imprisoned in a dark 8-by-4 foot cell, where he remained alone for the next 22 months. By the time of his release on March 27, 1973, he had spent more than ive years as a POW; only then did he ind out that he had been listed as Missing In Action (MIA) the entire time. Meyer exercised in prison whenever possible, even when he felt tired or weak. Sometimes he jogged in tiny circles around his cell and sometimes he did isometric exercises, but at other times it was as many sets as possible of the Air Force 5BX, Army “daily dozen” or “JFKs” (exercises recommended by President John F. Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness). hese widely known calisthenic routines contain a variety of exercises such as sit-ups, pushups, squat jumps, and jumping jacks. Meyer’s cell was so small that his ingernails would strike the wall leaving scratch marks when he did jumping jacks. Lew continued to exercise even while shackled in leg locks that were embedded in the concrete loor of his tiny cell. In the morning I asked them to take my legs out of the locks. I wanted to do my JFKs, my exercises. But they didn’t listen. So I started doing sit-ups. hen they pushed me back, yanked my leg locks of, removed them from the cell, and never put the leg locks on me again because the locks helped me do more sit-ups. When transferred to a larger cell with roommates, Meyer increased the intensity of his workout routine and included his cellmates in practicing the Air Force 5BX and the Army daily dozen. hey started with one repetition of each exercise and then progressed to two, 8 of use, available at . Downloaded from . University of Birmingham, on 18 May 2019 at 13:15:22, subject to the Cambridge Core terms
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