In case you missed it, there is another hazardous behavior that’s been identified as shortening our life spans. I don't mean to alarm you, but there's about a 99.9% chance that you’re doing it right now. Here is the headline, and I swear I'm not making this up:
Sitting for long periods increases risk of disease and early death, regardless of exercise.
Source: University Health Network (UHN)
The amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death, regardless of regular exercise, according to a review study.
I'm fairly certain that the fine folks who conducted this study had the best intentions. I'm also pretty sure they were sitting at their computers as they were tabulating their results. What I'm not so certain of is whether or not the absolute absurdity of this pronouncement was fully appreciated. The very first thing that popped into my mind was the old George Carlin joke that, "Scientists now say that saliva will cause cancer but only if ingested in small amounts over a long period of time."
Let's think this through together. A nation of scurrying, energy drink consuming, hyper-kinetic and restless souls who were once warned of the health perils of Type A living, are now being told that slowing down will kill them. It's enough to want to make you dust off the treadmill and hop on until your heart explodes.
Surely, the sounding of this alarm takes into account the type of sitting we do? My own quick review did not find any mention of types of sitting. Apparently, then, there is no difference between sitting with a bowl of chips in your lap while watching a Dancing with the Stars marathon, versus sitting in silent meditation, sitting in the audience of a three hour long orchestral extravaganza, or even sitting in an extended psychotherapy session trying to quell your growing anxiety that the last hour just increased your chances of getting cancer.
I have to admit, as a psychotherapist I sit a lot. I would guess that at least 75 to 80% of my professional life has been spent in a chair. Here's the spooky part. I did get cancer. At the time the doctors told me they didn’t know how I got it. Why was that? Maybe it’s because they didn’t want to say, "Well, Mr. Verano, it turns out that sitting on your butt has caused a tumor to appear in your chest. We could explain it to you but you wouldn’t believe us." Adding insult to injury, after open-heart surgery, in addition to radiation, the primary form of treatment was to sit in a chemotherapy chair for up to five hours at a time. And all along I thought it was the poisonous chemicals they were pumping in that were killing off my blood cells.
Ok, enough sarcasm for one blog; back to good ol' incredulity. Who knew that the greatest risk to the proverbial couch potato was not his increasing waistline but his decreasing lifeline? (Oops, that sort of sounded sarcastic but then again I did not create this study.) I can only imagine the plethora of products that are going to flood the market to get us off our collective derrieres. Soon there will be advertisements for the miracle Sit-No-More; a device that sends a shock wave directly to the buttocks anytime it experiences contact with anything other than a toilet seat. (Please tell me that sitting down in the bathroom is still permitted) Can't you just hear pitch:
Are you still sitting? Are you sitting still? Well if not you may want to sit down because I've got some bad news. All this sitting is killing you! That's right; it's a scientific fact that everyone who has ever died, no matter how healthy they appeared, all shared the same pattern of behavior. We used to call it sitting but now we know it by another name; inviting death. Don't become another statistic, get off your butt and take a stand against this modern-day malady. Get a new Sit-No-More and put an end to this life draining habit.
Finally, how long before FaceTime is replaced by ButtTime, the app that measures the pressure on your rear-end and calculates your ever diminishing life-span based on an algorithm that even its inventor does not understand.
Honestly, just writing about this has worn me out; I think it’s time for a nap. At least us old folks still got sleep…this just in from WebMD (I’m also not making this up.) “Oversleeping has been linked to a host of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and increased risk of death.”