It’s hard to keep up

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

If you’re worried about your brain and your body functioning on all pistons into your old age, exercise is better for you than sitting, and butter lettuce is better for you than butter.

This kind of information sounds simple and realistic. When do I start? Therein lays the rub: fewer than five out of a hundred of us exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day; and as for healthy eating habits, you only have to look at the potato chip sales compared to the apple sales to give you a clue on that one. Or, perhaps, just look in your own cupboard.

According to a research paper published in the British medical journal Lancet, physical inactivity has become pandemic. We have spread our addictions to MacDonald’s fries, television, internet and smart phones across the continents, and everyone is becoming addicted to the deadly quartet. Sitting, munching, sitting, munching. Some of us just like a lot of TV, with snacks. Some of us sit in front of the computer and munch on potato chips and leave our screens only to walk to the fridge for a Pepsi; some of us sit at coffee houses with iPhone in hand and latte at the ready and walk only to the car to go home and continue the habits.

One of the shocking stats from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is that one in 10 of us will die of poor eating habits linked with lack of exercise; this number is equivalent to the deaths caused by smoking. I think of those countless hours I not only sat around but that I sat around smoking! Yikes.

So what do you do if you have no will to exercise? Will you simply let your body and brain atrophy? Ignore the increasing girth and panting climb up the stairs? Have one more beer? Figure you’re going to die anyway, why not go down eating what you like in your BarcaLounger watching football?

Thankfully, in this era, all “facts” are disputed. A study came out in July that told us we could sit and not die from it. This is news worth accepting, right up there with the dark chocolate, coffee and red wine that are now good for us.

All of these things — sitting, chocolate, coffee, wine — are to be indulged moderately (that beige word) and accompanied by exercise (that bugaboo word).

I have contemplated the following workable system: Set the timer and get up from the computer once an hour, walk around the house, take one bite of dark chocolate (this is one bite, not one section, or half a candy bar; just a small bite to savor); resume the recently thought-to-be deadly position called sitting. As the day progresses, have a sensible lunch that excludes Lay’s chips, walk someplace outdoors, resume the position. Soon, switch from dark chocolate to dark wine and eat a few protein-filled hors d’oeuvres. Eventually go to bed to read.

To my knowledge there is no recent deadly news about lying down other than the directive that if we don’t relax more, we’ll die from stress. Lying down is relaxing. But then, I thought sitting down was, too. Sitting will give me heart problems, diabetes and a big rear. Standing will give me bad feet and fat ankles. Chocolate and coffee rev me up. Wine calms me down. Sit down, stand up, walk, walk, walk. It’s a whole day of uppers and downers, both in the eating department and the moving around department.

The reason so few of us keep good eating and exercising routines must be the news itself, don’t you think? It’s not just the Republican candidates that like to blame the press. This constantly changing news about our health is another good reason to either blame the broadcasters or get rid of the TV — no conflicting latest bulletins to confuse and no flickering screen to compel. You might find yourself walking around your kitchen concocting something yummy — cherry pie. I suspect that pie crust is not good for you this week; but cherries are.

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