Health and Fitness - Take a Deep Breath and Put Your Attention here

The Oscar ceremony was just last month, and the Academy Awards gadabouts must already be looking forward to next year’s red-carpet faux pas. We have all listened ad nauseam to the prattling of that sham fashion critic Joan Rivers, and maybe even joined the droves of lemmings in renting the Oscar-winning movies at the corner Blockbuster.

But please take a moment now for my health version of the Oscars — the body’s Academy Awards. I promise to shut up when the music starts to play.

The winner for best editing in the human body goes to the reticular activating system, or RAS, as it is known to those in a hurry. This system was responsible for filtering all the unnecessary dreck that made its way to your brain during the last year. It decided what was important for you to pay attention to. It concluded that 99 percent of the sensory input that approached your cerebral cortex was to be ignored. Without the RAS, you would likely have been bombarded with an overload of detail all around you. It would be the kind of overload you would experience while on the drug LSD, which temporarily disables the RAS.

The winner for best supporting role goes to the diaphragm. This veteran provided enough action and drama for five hysterical queens. It provided sufficient pressure change in your thoracic cavity to send blood soaring happily back to the heart on many an occasion. It allowed you to give that much-needed extra push while grunting and groaning on the toilet. It was even so chivalrous as to accompany you to the health club and save you from muscle tears during your heavy-lifting exercises.

The best makeup award is presented to the circulatory system for its presentation of the numerous bruises that you displayed to the world. These hematomas are more than just clotted blood masses, and it is long overdue that the Academy finally recognizes these purveyors of black and blue marks. They maintained their iridescent beauty until the body naturally reabsorbed the escaped blood that clotted just beneath the skin’s surface.

The best leading role goes to the lungs. This organ is usually secondary to the perennial favorites such as the heart, brain, or the stomach. This year the voters spoke and showed the world that nobody puts the lungs in a corner. This tour de force has provided the heart with all its oxygen, which in turn has provided the properly conditioned blood for your brain’s processing of your impure thoughts and the stomach’s digesting of those roast beef sandwiches ladled with horsey sauce.

The best director goes to the adrenaline. This little behemoth was responsible for preparing all your body parts for that fight-or-flight reaction when you came face to face with that curmudgeonly pit bull in the park. Audience members cheered furiously when you chose the flight version, outpaced the Hound of the Baskervilles, and then leapt that six-foot brick wall to the safety of those hydrangea bushes on the other side. Only a capable director could cajole you out of your slothful ways to negotiate that feat.

There were many nominees for great body parts and their exciting roles. With all due respect to the aforementioned winners, the body does function as a whole and as a winning team. Keep learning about your anatomy and physiology. This knowledge will keep you healthy and prepare you to be the recipient of the lifetime achievement award.

Ron Blake can be castigated at

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