What if cars were like us?

Posted by Hans Lindgren DC on 26 October 2012 | 0 Comments


Often we see health care and fitness professionals use the car reference to illustrate how well most people look after their cars, while completely neglecting the care and maintenance of themselves.

The comparison between us and cars could be further expanded to illustrate what it would be like if cars were like us.

First of all there would be some very firm basic rules:

  • Every car would almost be the same, as in a low-budget standard sedan with a small engine and without any frills.
  • The initial car would have to be kept for life. There would be no possibilities of selling the car and buying another.
  • Cars would to a large extent be self-repairing. No need for mechanics, the cars would try to fix themselves.  

Having the knowledge that the initial car would have to last for the rest of our lives would probably guarantee that most people would look after their cars meticulously.

Cars working like humans would not be all bad if people were prepared to put in some hard work into their cars. An exciting and positive fact is that cars would have the human capacity of Super compensation and SAID.

Super compensation is the ability to adapt and improve to withstand increased demand. This is the fundamental principle behind all training, where there will be a period during which the trained function would have a higher performance than it did prior to the training. In brief terms this means that the more challenge you expose yourself to, the better you will get. 

The general idea of training is to challenge the body and then allow it sufficient rest to repair and come back stronger. Regular training can thereby make the body better and better. If not enough rest is allowed or the challenge is too demanding, the body will not be able to repair properly and thereby not improve, and instead show signs of injury (over-training). When the training does not challenge the body or if the rest is far too long, there are no improvements (under-training). 

SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand and describes the specificity of the compensation phenomenon. The SAID principle explains how we only improve in what we specifically expose our bodies to. That is why we don’t get better at running from lifting weights and why running long distance will not improve our sprinting capacity.

How would these two fundamental principles affect the cars?

  • Sports cars and other high performance vehicles could not be bought but would have to be made through regular hard work. The standard sedan would improve with imposed demand, which means that the more vigorous we drove it the better it would get. Regularly accelerating would make the car faster to take off, and constantly sitting at maximum speed would gradually increase the top speed of the car. Regular firm braking would not wear the brake pads out but instead make them better, and if we wanted to improve the suspension we would just drive on rough roads. Steering, transmission - well actually all other functions of the car- could be improved with regular use. Not all cars could be turned into Ferraris, but all the individual specifications would greatly improve and the looks of the car would be positively affected as well. Once the car had transformed into a high performance vehicle it would have to be continuously exposed to the increased demand otherwise it would slowly start to revert back into a standard low performance car again. Through lack of effort the sports car would disappear again.
  • Depending upon what car we preferred, the driving strategy would be designed to suit. Some people strive for a sports car while others are more interested in creating a strong and durable vehicle. The more load the car carried or towed, the larger the loading capacity would get. Fuel economy would also be improved with regular use.
  • If the car was never pushed towards new limits, but just casually driven around aimlessly it would never fulfil it true potential. Without challenges it would remain a standard, low performing vehicle for ever. 
  • The car would also be self-repairing provided it received good nutritious fuel, quality oil and had sufficient, but not too much rest between the work-outs.
  • Not using the car and having it standing still would make it deteriorate and lose its performance very quickly. The small engine would steadily become weaker until it one day was not even able to propel the car around properly anymore. Apart from the reduced performance, the safety and appearance of the car would also dramatically decline.
  • Tyres would not wear out from heavy use but only from faulty alignment. Hard use of the tyres, provided they were properly aligned, would only improve the performance.
  • Most of the car parts could not be replaced, and if deteriorated or broken through neglect or abuse it would still have to keep performing with its reduced capacity. Some parts like tyres and exhaust systems could occasionally be repaired or replaced by a car-surgeon, but would doubtfully ever perform to the original capacity again, and if replaced the new part would not be self-repairing.
  • The cars computer (brain) could become stressed and tensed, leading to a tendency to idle at too high revs and being jerky and unreliable when driving, as well as frequently blowing fuses.
  • Bad fuel would clog up the engine and could cause clots to develop in the fuel lines blocking the passage of fuel to the engine. The unhealthy fuel would also turn the car into a heavier vehicle, but with the same low performing engine. A heavy low performance car would struggle driving up-hills and would also be very slow and uncomfortable. Bad fuel would not only make the car heavier, it would also make it bigger and bulkier on the outside without any extra space for the passengers on the inside. The big cars could even get too big for garages and parking spaces.

 Summary: How you treat the car would determine whether you are going to end up with a vintage sports car or an old rust bucket.  


It is very surprising that so many people allow themselves to be a low performing or sometimes even non-performing “rust bucket”, when we all have the ability of being so much better with regular exercise and good quality food.

Finishing this post off with an interesting MRI study, showing the effect of regular exercise in preserving muscle mass in masters Athletes.


Seeing the muscles of the 70 year old athlete makes me even more determined to never give the training up.

The whole study can be found here > . 

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