We can feel gravity's effects every day and experience its cumulative damage on our bodies over a lifetime. No other force affects us so dramatically.
When an apple fell onto his head and he formulated the law of gravity, Sir Isaac Newton began to understand the role of gravity in controlling the moon's orbit. However, Newton probably didn't realize the profound effect of this force on the human body.
Have you ever noticed that your pants feel a little tighter around the waist at the end of the day? Have you ever adjusted your rearview mirror up in the morning and then down at night? Did you realize that after the age of 20, you've been losing an average of 1/2" in height every twenty years? Do you suffer from varicose veins, swollen feet or an aching back? If you responded yes to any of these questions, you are a victim of the inescapable, compressive force of gravity.
The results of gravity's constant downward pull on our faces, shoulders, backs, necks, chests, organs, legs and feet are painfully obvious to most of us. Gravity never gives up, nor does it discriminate. Young or old, couch potatoes or athletes - we will all experience change to our bodies as a result of life on this planet!
Exercising will help keep you fit and trim - but exercise is both beneficial and harmful to your body. How can that be? It's called compression fatigue: the more we run, the more weight we lift, the more our bodies pay the toll from gravity.
Perhaps, the most noticeable effect of gravity on the body is compression of the spine. Our spine consists of vertebrae and sponge-like discs. The downward force of gravity causes the discs to lose moisture throughout the day, resulting in a daily height loss of up to 1/2" - 3/4"! The moisture returns to the disc overnight, but not 100%. Over a lifetime, a person can permanently lose between 1/2" - 2" in height!
Height loss not only effects the health of your back, but acts like a "domino effect" on the rest of your body. Your organs become compressed and your waist measurement increases (without actual weight gain). You probably call these love handles, but we call them compression wrinkles because they are, in part, a direct result of compression of the spine! This also effects your ability to move and bend, which can seriously hinder your ability to perform simple daily activities.
Gravity wreaks havoc on the inside of your body as well. Over time, organs begin to prolapse, or fall, from their rightful place in your body. Organ function becomes less efficient. It's not uncommon for people to experience bladder, kidney and digestive problems due to prolapsed organs. In fact, for centuries, yoga practitioners have performed head stands to ensure proper organ placement.
Height loss and larger middles inevitably result in lost flexibility. Perhaps the most vital part of maintaining an active lifestyle as you age is maintaining the ability to move. Gravity can actually rob us of the ability to golf, garden, and play with our grandkids in our later years.
If gravity can prevent water from flowing uphill, it can also prevent the blood in our bodies from freely flowing upward. Over time, gravity takes a toll on the circulatory system, which may cause varicose veins, decreased scalp circulation and swollen limbs. Poor circulation to the eyes, ears, skin, scalp and brain is one reason why our most valuable organs deteriorate over a lifetime.
Try this simple experiment to witness the powerful effect of gravity on the circulatory system: lift up your right arm for two minutes. Lower your arm and compare your right and left hands. Which is more pink? Now consider the effect of standing all day on your lower limbs. Our bodies subconsciously understand that we need to aid circulation from our limbs to our heart - how often do you find yourself propping up your legs on a desk or ottoman?
We may call all of these problems the unavoidable effects of aging. The truth is that they are merely a result of the constant force of gravity - and they are not unavoidable.
If you're still unconvinced about the power of gravity, consider this: astronauts grow two inches while in space! During weeks in orbit, astronauts' discs continue to absorb moisture from the blood stream. With no gravitational pull to squeeze moisture out, the discs remain plump, making their spines longer and themselves taller. In fact, space suits are designed to accommodate the extra two inches spinal stretch. Unfortunately, most of us will remain earth-bound for our entire lives. Here are some ways we compensate:
- As fetuses, we all develop in the near-weightless environment of our mothers' wombs. During the last trimester, we actually turn upside-down to help with brain development.
- As infants, we often slept bottoms-up! Keeping our heads lower than our hearts, we encouraged a proper supply of blood and oxygen to our brain
- As children, we love to "escape from gravity" by riding the swings or hanging upside down on the monkey bars.
- As adults, we prop our legs and feet on desks or stools to compensate for gravity's constant presence.
Effects of Gravity
Dr Theresa Dobson describes the effects of gravity, as gravity travels down our bodies it summates, its adds load and pressure from the top of our body all the way down to our feet, gradully getting stronger and stronger, she goes on to describe that the our heads weigh about 10-12 kg and just by leaning forward the effects of gravity can make it feel more like 18kg.
In this popular science video, gravity is discuseed and explained in great detail from the massive galaxy to the smallest atom, the benefits and the problems are explored along with the historic science of the mystical force of Gravity
How we enjoy playing with gravity
If you were an alien coming to this planet for the first time and watched only this video to give you an illustration of what humanity is like, you’d think that we’re all a bunch of flying lunatics for which gravity is completely optional.