Sitting is the New Smoking, So Get off Your Bottom - The New Indian Express

Sitting is the New Smoking, So Get off Your Bottom

Published: 22nd August 2014 11:50 PM

Last Updated: 22nd August 2014 11:50 PM

A friend once called me "a fat, lazy slob". I chose to interpret this as a compliment. Denial has always been one of my strongest superpowers.

But I did start thinking seriously about health when I saw a TV report on a new sport called "base jumping", in which you jump off buildings wearing flappy clothing. At least, they call it "new", but we had it when I was young, when it was called "committing suicide".

The base jumper being interviewed said something like this: "Jumping off buildings in a wingsuit is usually survivable. Doing a desk job every day and being a couch potato every night is always lethal."

The Universe was clearly telling me something, because the very next day I received two news reports from readers about health.

The first was about a collision between an accountant and a crocodile. A circus bus was motoring at high speed along the Murmansk road in northern Russia when it went over a bump. Two circus employees, the crocodile and the accountant, body-slammed each other. At two metres long, the crocodile was technically bigger than the accountant, but the accountant had been doing a lot of comfort-eating lately, and at 120 kilos, was heavier than the crocodile. Afterwards, the crocodile had a stunned expression, vomited regularly, and could not work at all. The accountant was fine, but received a reprimand for failing to wear a seat belt.

The ironic thing was that the other health news item warned us not to stay seated. Professions in which people work in a seated position (desk jobs, mud-wrestling and the like) are measurably less healthy than jobs in which people stay on their feet (teaching, nursing, bullfighting et al). Readers' Digest had a shock headline about it: "Sitting is the new smoking". Sitting distorts the spine and crushes the internal organs, causing death, it said.

If sitting is the new smoking, it is clearly only a matter of time before chairs are sold plastered with photos of twisted skeletons. First, sitting will be banned in offices but allowed only in a designated room on each floor. Then, the designated room will be removed and people who want to sit will have to cluster at the front of the building with chairs they have brought themselves. In the final stage, anti-sitting signs will be placed around the building and people will have to go and find dark alleys in which they can pull out a portable chair for a five-minute sit-down.

I honestly think scientists have a list of "Everything People Like Doing" and methodically work through it to stop us doing them. Otherwise the law of averages would force them to discover something slob-friendly every few years, such as "portions of chocolate fudge cake boost health but only if you eat two".

I would write more about this, but I just made myself hungry, it's been an hour since my mid-morning coffee break, and it IS lunchtime, well, eleven o'clock-ish, near enough, so I think I'll stop here.

This does not mean I am admitting to being a fat, lazy slob. No! At least not after I have turned on my "total denial" superpower. Bon appétit.

(22.08.2014 - Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send comments and ideas via www.mrjam.org)

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