Sitting on a Problem
Back in the 20th century, Jeremy Morris conducted a study comparing the cardiovascular health of of train conductors, versus the more sedentary work of being a driver on one of London’s double-decker buses. The results were predictable: the more active work of the conductors produced a longer life expectancy.
Yes, I know, news flash: sitting down for 11+ hours a day isn’t good for your health. I think we all realize that exercise and staying active is important. Not just for bus drivers, but for all of us who grind out long hours in front of a computer screen.
I won’t get all preachy on the answer here. I have no justification for it. I’m in my mid-40s and sit in front of a computer for long periods. And while I’m not over weight, I’ve come to believe this fact masks my inactivity. The pressure to stay active that once came from youthful vanity, is no longer working for me. Being 10lbs up is no longer pushing me to better health.
So why change now? Well, as I said, those long sitting periods and infrequent cardio-activity started my thinking. I’m also having to deal with shoulder and neck aches more regularly (which is obviously connected); and the stress of a busy family and running a business is probably more nerve wracking than I care to admit.
And truthfully? That unexpected early heart attack looms on the horizon. My genetics are good (no family history); but waiting another 10 years to get started seems like I’m not doing my part. I’ve watched too many friends and family devastated by unexpected deaths recently not to make some changes.
One thing I do know, is that my response can’t be a full-on lifestyle change. I won’t stick with it. Change has to start slow, embedding new activities within my personal routines. As an example, in November I moved my weights out of the basement into the bedroom, and started doing a shoulder-targeted workout right before bed (and yes, the neck aches did improve). I’ve been doing this (semi-quasi-reliably) 3 or 4 times a week since. I also went to see my optometrist, and got my eyes tested; and am scheduling a physical with the doctor this month.
Another experiment I’m trying is to limit being in front of the computer to no more than 2 hours in any one stretch. It’s not easy. But since I don’t think I’m a candidate for out those stand-up desks, I’m going to keep working at it.
My last personal hurdle is probably the most difficult: getting some kind of cardio back into my life. I used to play soccer and tennis, so I never worked at it. The games themselves drove my activity level, which is where I’d like to get back to. Golfing (badly) has filled that void in recent years, but Canadian winters aren’t helpful. So like it or not, I need a stationary (read: boring) cardio activity. Running isn’t my thing; but I have had some results on the stairmaster over the years. So that’s where I’m going to start. Perhaps a combination of walking, stairmaster, and some golf once spring rolls around. Luckily out here in BC, that could be as soon as April.
Like many others, I’m a work in progress. I wish I could do better. Not because it’s January 2nd (I don’t make new years resolutions). But because we all need to introspect once in a while, and determine what (and who) is important to us. We live our lives accordingly, and personal health is a part of that. Cue David Bowie.
Happy New Year!