New discoveries, intelligent devices and irrepressible dreamers are making life even more exciting. There are so many positive developments around us in the world today that it becomes possible to conclude we are living in the best of times in the second decade of the new millennium.
There is so much to do in a day that we begin wondering how we believed that our youth represented our best days when all we had by way of entertainment was some sport, a lot of films and the occasional raids on the library. Today’s world has all that plus so much else to do and savour that 24 hours a day do not seem sufficient.
If there is one reason to complain about modern life, it is to do with having so much to do without having to get up from your seat. There is an inbuilt danger to having too much at hand like devices and television. Sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day could increase your risk of a premature death by 60 per cent, says a Lancet study. Long before its conclusive findings, we knew that we were at risk from a sedentary lifestyle, which modern living thrusts upon us.
The study found that “Office workers must exercise for one hour a day to combat the deadly risk of modern working lifestyles. Scientists said sedentary lifestyles were now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking, and were causing more deaths than obesity. They urged anyone spending hours at their desk to change their daily routine to take a five-mnute break every hour, as well as exercise at lunchtimes and evenings.”
To combat the dangers of sitting 8 hours in the office, the recommended activity is an hour of brisk cycling or walking. Curiously, even when the recommendation was only for 30 minutes of exercise a day, half of the women and a third of the men failed to achieve this in the UK.
This is what the lead scientist of the Lancet study had to say and it is worth repeating if only to inspire and convert at least a few of our couch potatoes — “You don’t need to do sport, you don’t need to go to the gym, it’s OK doing some brisk walking maybe in the morning, during your lunchtime, after dinner in the evening. You can split it up over the day but you need to do at least one hour,” Professor Ulf Ekelund, from Cambridge University and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, said.
We know the diligent ones study a subject thoroughly before coming to conclusions. The results of all studies may not excite all of us. Also, there are so many nowadays putting out their surveys that they sometimes end up contradicting each other.
There is, however, one aspect of modern life about which we should not be cynical and that is about the need for exercise. While those who were active in sport when young find it easy enough to keep up some activity into and past middle age, we must fear for those who were not so sports minded and so slipped even more easily into a sedentary lifestyle.
A condition like diabetes forces a lifestyle change in many. An hour in the gym or on the road or the tennis court becomes compelling enough in course of time for them to become even compulsive. But what the change to a more active lifestyle does is it injects doses of positivity regardless of how much such activity helps in controlling the glucose levels, etc. It is not a mere truism that exercise does more good if you believe it will. In fact, a scientific study in Germany has established this.
“People who believe exercise is good for them may derive more mental and physical benefits from working out than those with lower expectations.”
The lead scientist in this study concluded that “our belief in how much we will benefit from physical activity has a considerable effect on our well-being in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
In this quest to spread the message about the positive vibes to be picked up from physical exercise about at least five times a week, that line is a nice one too. To make this part of a daily routine is not the simplest thing. Myriad excuses can be found not to get up on the alarm and rush to the gym or begin that morning constitutional. Fighting the ennui of repetitive activity is not simple although modern devices pouring music into your ears or even converting the mobile phone into a television screen do help somewhat.
If after reading this even one person becomes a convert to organised physical activity stretching over weeks and months, this edition of the column would have served its purpose. Far from being a sermon, this is a plea to all to try a small change in lifestyle to reap big benefits....