Take a seat… of DOOM.

February 22, 2011

Lately, I’ve been seeing an awful lot of articles telling me that I am at risk of dying. Dying. As in, placed six feet under, meeting St. Peter, rigidly cold and not breathing. Or at least, I’m undergoing the horror of aging, which is almost as bad. Indeed, it’s so terrible, one would almost think aging wasn’t natural.

Why? I’ve never smoked. I’m young. I live in a relatively safe city in a country with universal health care (whoot Canada!). I eat a balanced diet (and the key word there is balanced… I do enjoy my ice cream).

However… I sit. That is the big but(t).

Not all the time, mind you. I don’t have a car, which means that I end up walking just about everywhere. Plus, a combination of insomnia of the early-morning-waking variety and my doctor’s assurance that exercise will help me sleep (I’m still waiting for that to happen, but one can always hope) means that I do get enough active time.

Ah, but apparently I also get too much “sitting still” time. Children, apparently, should get no more than 2.5 hours of “sedentary time” per day. I’m no longer a child, but I imagine adults shouldn’t get much more.

A few questions, then. What about school? I seem to recall rows upon rows of wooden desks and chairs. You know, the things children sit in while the teacher expounds on multiplication, or the French Revolution, or why we don’t eat paste. Most kids are in school from about 9 to 3:30. Take off an hour for lunch, half an hour for recess for the younger kids, and that’s FIVE HOURS.

Are our teachers secretly killing our kids? Good heavens!

Moving right along then, to adulthood. Most adults have desk jobs. It occurs to me that most adults have had desk jobs for decades now. But now the cubicle is a boxy scourge on the face of humanity! It’s stealing our youthful vigour, and the only way to reclaim it is through…

Treadmill-desks and pedal machines?

Can anyone tell me where people’s common sense has gone? This issue of “ZOMG you had a cookie and now you’re sitting you’re going to DIE!!!” comes up again and again, and nothing ever seems to change. Nothing, that is, except the panicked urgency of the message. First it was that we weren’t exercising enough. Now it’s that we are exercising enough, but we’re sitting too much. We’re not eating enough “good” carbs (a moralizing term I hate; “complex” carbs take longer for your body to break down and thus stabilize blood sugar… sorry, that’s the hypoglycaemic in me talking). We’re not eating enough protein. Wait, we’re eating too much protein.

And for what? I don’t deny that the health of the general population has deteriorated over the past few decades, and yeah, some people should probably change some of their food choices and move a little more. But two things bother me: the inherent moral implications being put forth, and the focus on stopping aging.

Morals first. Food is neutral. Exercise is neutral. You are not going to find an evil chocolate bar. Furthermore, evil is not transferable through digestion. That means, if you eat chocolate, you are not “bad.” You have eaten chocolate. If you eat too much, your body will store the excess energy. That is all. It’s a natural process, no issues of goodness/badness here. Similarly, exercising does not make you “good.” It may make you fit and improve your health, but it will not make you a better person (though it may release endorphins that make you feel like a better person :P).

The cost of immortality?

Secondly… humans age. Heck, all things age. Trees age. Sharks age. Ferrets age. Some types of fly age over the course of a single day. And then all things die. The only exceptions I can think of are some jellyfish and fungi that may be “biologically immortal.” But you don’t want to be a jellyfish or a fungus, right? If you want to be human, you have to accept that no matter what you do, you will eventually grow old and die. And then what? You’re dead, without ever releasing that anxious, iron-grip of control over your life.

I suppose my main message here is thus: use your common sense. If you’re stuck at a desk all day, walk the dog when you get home. Walk to work. Play with your kids or significant other. Find something fun to do with your body. Dance. Play soccer. Swim. Jump on one foot while patting your head/rubbing your tummy.  We don’t need pedal machines and the “latest studies.” We need to reclaim the brains in our heads.




  1. I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to work, and even luckier that my walk takes me 1.5 miles through forest and along a river in a designated wilderness. (Which is why I have bear/cougar encounters). But once I’m at work…I sit. I’m now getting emails asking if I’m searching for men over 45 (no) and mail assuming I’m going to join AARP (burned it). I’m going to stick my metaphorical ostrich head in the writing sand and ignore it all.

  2. Well said. Hope you didn’t write and proofread it while sitting on your butt. 😉

    • As a matter of fact, I did. However, I seem to still be alive this morning. 😛

  3. You have once again stolen the words from my mouth, Arvik. I have noticed the very same thing–people are giving me the same message that eating unhealthy foods will kill me the next day.
    Oh, no! I ate a chocolate bar! I’m going to DIE! From 7:30 to 2:30 I’m sitting on my butt in a place called school. Too much sitting around-I’m going to DIE! Never mind that I walk home every day. Or go to dance practice twice a week. Or walk the two dogs one at a time.
    Hahaha! It’s so funny how people now are freaking out over the smallest things!

  4. I recently read that getting “enough” exercise (an hour a day for adults) doesn’t undo the damage done by working in a sedentary job. I still exercise – there’s no sense in helping the Grim Reaper to come fetch me – but it is kind of depressing that we’ve set up our society in a way that kills us from all angles (i.e. not moving, eating garbage, being stressed all the time, etc.).

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