Sitting is the new smoking

I was down in my dungeon (office) sitting more or less comfortably at my desk “working” at the computer as usual by checking out Facebook and a program came on the radio.

I was down in my dungeon (office) sitting more or less comfortably at my desk “working” at the computer as usual by checking out Facebook and a program came on the radio.

Which happened to be on CBC, which is easier to ignore than some other stations when you are “working”.

But instead of ignoring it, I accidentally started listening which was much easier than “working” on account of the program was an interesting science talk show and the topic was called “Sitting is the New Smoking”.

I was so stunned by what I heard I almost had to stand up for a moment.

According to the item on “Quirks and Quarks”, which is either an excellent radio show or a very odd accounting firm, the act of sitting is devastating scourge that has infested our entire society so insidiously that it could very possible lead to the untimely demise of all mankind.

Oh, no, sorry, that’s chemical warfare, a different Quirks and Quarks topic, but according to the lady on the program who had a PhD. in something or other, sitting too much is almost as big a devastating scourge on the future of mankind. And womenkind for that matter.

This sitting expert detailed details of several studies and a number of guesses that showed without a shadow of a doubt that people sit. A lot.

In fact, due to the fact that many people have computers and also jobs that involve computers, a huge increase has been detected in the amount of time many people spend plopped on what Pulitzer Prize winning writer (and the person I would most like to have a beer with) Dave Barry calls the “buttular region”.

Apparently this is not good. Not good for either your buttular region or your general health, well-being, and also, apparently, life expectancy.

Experts also blame couches. These comfy furniture units have also contributed to unhealthy sitting, in the sense of creating their very own category of potatoes. Couch Potatoes.

But we (or the experts) can’t really lay all the blame on comfy expensive leather or comfy mangy old stuffed chesterfields (which is an ancient British name for “couches”), many in-depth studies have shown that 73 per cent of people who sit in couches to a dangerous degree probably wouldn’t do so unless they had something to stare at.

And this is where television comes into the complex equation of chronic sitting.

Even though statistics show that 92.3 per cent of television content is not worth watching, this clearly does not stop the various rich, powerful and sadly misdirected television networks from creating several hundred channels of, what social scientists scientifically call “nothing worth watching” which includes approximately 16.5 hours per day of nothing but reality shows.

This trend involving complete TV saturation of not-very-real reality programing, combined with dozens of depressingly similar competitive cooking shows, and shows where people sit around and argue by all talking at once about various important topics like Jennifer Lawrence’s hair or Mylie Cyrus’s pelvis or who got voted off of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Survivor, Storage Wars or the World’s Scariest Hoarder — all add up to literally millions of Couch Potatoes inexplicably glued to their televisions, and their buttular regions glued to their sofas (which is an American word for “chesterfield) for hours — even days at a time.

And of course, this means that a coffee table or some other surface designed to hold large mounds of unhealthy snacks is conveniently located directly in front of the said Potato Person.

I speak from personal experience, purely in observation terms, of course.

So the bummer in of all of this, so to speak, is that those multitudes of us who are sitting more and more as computers get more internet porn and televisions get more HBO and couches get more and more comfy, we sitters are getting more and more less healthy, as it were.

Now I know many of you out there in readerland actually have jobs that cause you to be in a standing position, possibly even moving from one place to another and that probably means you aren’t sitting, so that’s good news for you, the few.

And there are many who make darn sure to get several minutes of exercise per day by walking the dumb dog or shoveling the stupid sidewalk or, during our 3 week summer manage to play a few rounds of golf.

To those folks: Sorry!

According to Mrs. PhD. that, and I quote: “Ain’t gonna cut it!”

The radio report reports that experts are finding that an average of 8 to 10 hours sitting a day is not unusual, and if that’s the case, then even an hour of exercise does about as much good as a drive to the DQ.

(Assuming you don’t buy and eat anything when you get there, because then it’s much worse.)

The solution?

In a word: “Sit less, Stand more, Move often.” OK, so that’s more than a word, but it is the suggested mantra of the sitting experts.

So for the American TV and computer fanatic couch potatoes who are always seriously hopped up about their flag and everything, I would suggest legislating the playing the National Anthem every 10 or 15 minutes on every television station and internet site so that everyone would be forced to stand and hold their hand to their heart for a while.

Might as well move around a bit while you’re up, eh?

For the rest of us who don’t necessarily leap to their feet at the first blat of an anthem, the good news is, it’s all the rage now to have vertically moving desks.

That’s right, you press a button and your desk rises up to standing position, so that you can “work” on Facebook whilst up off of your buttular region. For a while, until you get tired and need to sit down again. Just press the down button.

Oh, and also it’s recommended that we all burn our living room furniture.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer

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