Must-See: 'Racing Extinction' Exposes the Secrets Others Don't Want You to See
“Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.” —Shawn Heinrichs in Racing Extinction
In September of 2014 at around 10 p.m., I stood outside the United Nations building in New York City and watched a massive film being projected across the buildings in front and above me. Endangered species—from small invertebrates to large charismatic megafauna—world groove music and massive flowing images of nature streamed down the side of the 39-story building. Amidst the serene images were also scenes of environmental holocaust—smoke stacks, ecological decay and the threat of extinction to the web of life.
The UN building projection was the filming of the last scene in the documentary, Racing Extinction, just released a few weeks ago by the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), the same filmmakers who brought us the Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove.
Earlier this month, I sat in the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado, and watched the Colorado premier of Racing Extinction. The same kind of large-scale effort that projected the film across the UN building permeates the entire documentary. It’s a racing, jet-set, epic kind of film—one that takes on the big problems at a worldwide scale literally racing all over the planet to find, face and fix extinction.
In screenplay lingo, Racing Extinction is James Bond meets The Cove meets Apocalypse Now.
The most intense scene in Racing Extinction is when the film crew gets on board a small manta ray fishing boat in Indonesia. A village fisherman stands on the bow of the boat with a long harpoon in his hand searching the water below. A giant manta ray, maybe 12 feet across and nearly flying through the ocean, surfaces just ahead of the speeding boat. A second later the fisherman lunges into the water, his full bodyweight on the harpoon as it stabs the giant manta ray in the back. Blood fills the water as the ray fights and flails. The film jumps an hour forward as the huge dead animal is hauled atop the boat.
What Racing Extinction does before and after this scene is what sets the film apart from other documentaries such as its predecessor, The Cove. Back on shore, the filmmakers show scenes of dozens and dozens of dead manta rays in just one day of fishing on this Indonesian island—it is an apocalypse, a type of species genocide, that is played out day after day on manta rays and other endangered species across the planet. The film jumps to other scenes of tens-of-thousands of shark fins in Chinese markets, bags and bottles full of endangered species body parts and oils for sale in markets worldwide, all while discussing the holocaust that humans are wreaking on the non-human world across the planet.
Racing Extinction then goes a step farther than just chronicling how human avarice and greed are purposely killing and profiting from the endangered species trade. The film delves deeply into the climate crisis and how it will likely lead to making many of Earth’s species endangered, especially those in the increasingly acidic oceans. Coral reefs dissolve and die before your eyes on the screen and hi-tech carbon-dioxide-sniffing cameras film the exhaust of the millions of planes/trains/automobiles polluting the oceans.
More importantly, Racing Extinction does not just chronicle the potential apocalypse, it also offers some hopeful outcomes and a path forward for everyone to take action. The same genocide that occurred with manta rays on the Indonesian island is now being replaced with a tourism industry that focuses on protecting and restoring the ocean and its species. The OPS team has been helping to educate children in that Indonesian fishing village and develop a tourist trade to replace the slaughter. Further, the entire film and its website is a call to action for people to engage and make a difference.
The two main people on the screen in Racing Extinction are Louis Psihoyos who is the Oscar-winning director of The Cove, and Shawn Heinrichs who is an internationally renowned oceanic photographer and owner of Blue Sphere Media. Another prominent person in the film is Leilani Munter, the “carbon free girl” race car driver who drives the Tesla that is fitted with extremely powerful film projectors that bring the images to life on the side of the U.N. building and wherever the filmmakers go. All three were on hand at the Boulder screening and were extremely gracious to visit with every person who came to see the sold-out event. Behind the scenes were dozens of producers, filmmakers and directors who helped bring the documentary to life.
In the trailer to the film, Louis Psihoyos says, “If you can reach people, you can change them." Racing Extinction is a big-screen attempt to reach people—not just environmentalists and the eco-choir—but also reach children, adventure seekers, educators, decision-makers and people who care of all ages.
As this film races across America and the world, try to catch it in your town or on the Discovery Channel which swiftly picked up the distribution rights. In fact, the CEO of the Discovery Channel said that the channel’s goal with this film and others is to “dump all the pseudo stuff and instead have programming that would impact people to do something.”
Stopping extinction is a race that we can win if we all run together—Let’s Go!
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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