Sitting is the new smoking, they say. Many of us spend hours a day sitting at a desk, then another hour driving a car or riding a bus, then another hour or two or more couch-surfing.
All of that time on our butts is affecting our health, and an hour of exercise a day does not counter-act the deadly effects.
In the 1940s, a British doctor named Jeremy Morris noticed something strange about London Transport workers. Men who drove buses, and thus were sitting most of the day, had much higher rates of heart disease than their colleagues, the conductors, who constantly climbed up and down stairs on those classic double-decker buses
One recent study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of a screen at home with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:
A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain or heart attack
Reducing that time in a chair is a good goal for increasing the odds of a longer life. Stand at your desk; do stretching exercises while you watch TV, or throw away your TV and go for a walk.
The phrase solvitur ambulando is Latin for “it is solved in the walking”. What is solved? Go for a walk and you will know. Your mind thinks more clearly, your heart pumps more surely, your muscles expand their sinew and strength, and your spirit soars with the exploration of your surroundings.
It’s like giving up smoking, as you discover how fresh the air really smells, how bright the open road may be even in a rainfall, how the life around you inspires you as you saunter along a trail or beach.
“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,—who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived ‘from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre,’ to the Holy Land, till the children- exclaimed, ‘There goes a Sainte Terrer,’ Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean....For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and re-conquer this Holy Land.”
—Henry D. Thoreau, “Walking,” 1862
“Man takes root at his feet, and at best he is no more than a potted plant in his house or carriage, till he has established communication with the soil by the loving and magnetic touch of his soles to it. Then the tie of association is born; then spring those invisible fibres and rootlets through which character comes to smack of the soil, and which makes a man kindred to the spot of earth he inhabits.”
-John Burroughs, “The Exhilarations of the Road,” 1895
“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily without getting there in spirit. In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the village. The thought of some work will run in my head, and I am not where my body is—I am out of my senses. In my walks I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”
–Henry David Thoreau, “Walking,” 1862
“Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune,
I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more,
postpone no more, need nothing
Done with indoor complaints,
libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.”
-Walt Whitman, “A Song of the Open Road”
“It is the best of humanity, I think, that goes out to walk. In happy hours all affairs may be wisely post- poned for this. It is a fine art; there are degrees of profi- ciency, and we distinguish the professors from the apprentices. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good-humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much. Good observers have the manners of trees and animals, and if they add words, it is only when words are better than silence. But a vain talker profanes the river and the forest, and is nothing like so good company as a dog.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Country Life,” 1857
How to counter the effects of sitting:
More information: https://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-
information-31/misc-death-and-dying-news-172/too- much-sitting-can-be-deadly-even-if-you-exercise- review-finds-695577.html
Some recommended walks at Deception Pass this time of year:
Any of them...all of them!