According to the Reuters news agency, Australian researchers have determined that sedentary activities (sitting in front of the TV, working at a desk, riding in a car, etc.) can significantly increase your chances of death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, or other causes.
(This report probably elicits a big "I told you so!" from pioneering fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who was recently cover-featured on the "American Profile" Sunday magazine. At age 95 the robust LaLanne still exercises two hours every morning and eats at least 10 raw vegetables a day. I have an unconfirmed report that his pastimes include chopping wood, gardening, and mopping up the floor -- with Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris.)
Smoking and overeating can exacerbate the problem, but it is the very act of sitting that is the recurring risk factor in the study. The researchers lecture us that the human body just isn't designed for prolonged periods of sitting. Did you ever notice that you can always depend on researchers and reformers to unleash a litany of things that the human body isn't designed for? "The human body isn't designed to wear shoes. The human body isn't designed to eat meat. Etc." But you never hear anyone declare, "The human body isn't designed to support cockamamie research projects."
After a stressful day at work, I happen to enjoy sitting down and researching my next article or watching an episode of "Monk." But now it seems I have a death-wish if I'm not out there hiking, rappelling, jogging, and otherwise communing with nature. But if the do-gooders think the Creator did such a messed-up job of designing the human body to meet the needs of the 21st century, what makes them think the rest of nature is worth gazing at while you're coughing up a lung????
I also enjoy curling up with a good book and increasing my knowledge, but apparently such an activity shortens your lifespan. This news has dismayed the Democrats. ("At this rate, Sarah Palin will live forever!")
How will society change in response to the sedentary lifestyle scare? Here are some possibilities:
1. Dating services will spring up to match your 14-year-old daughter with 45-year-old ex-cons, so you can toss and turn all night and exercise even in your sleep.
2. Rodin's famous sculpture "The Thinker" will be renamed "The Poor Schmuck Waiting On A Myocardial Infarction."
3. Lawyers for alleged "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will argue that he was just trying to give unhealthy passengers a chance to jump up and do something on a long airplane ride.
4. The CIA will reveal that the Beverly Hillbillies' invitation to "set a spell, take your shoes off" was a major communist plot of the Sixties.
5. NBC will introduce the new high-impact exercise "twisting slowly in the wind." (No, wait, that's if you're ON television. Sorry, Conan.)
6. Churches will brainstorm to keep their pews from contributing to a lazy lifestyle. ("Forget Folgers Flavor Crystals. We've secretly replaced our members' usual Episcopalian hymnals with Pentecostal rattlesnakes...")
It's best not to panic. Continue your scrapbooking club or "DVD night," but throw some moderate physical activity into the mix. For instance, Jack LaLanne likes to do pushups with his ear hair during pinochle games. And I understand he has listed himself as his own pallbearer and...
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.