Posted: January 7, 2011 in Posts

This article in Scientific American is certainly thought provoking.

It has made me evaluate what I do when I have nothing else to do. It usually, work or home, involves the computer. It’s made me think about the way I do many things and how I raise my kids.

The thrust of the article is that even if you’re active, like me, sitting too much can still harm your health in ways we don’t totally understand. I work a skilled labor position that requires me to stand and walk, I workout for 30 minutes to and hour and a half six days a week, and I still sit more than I stand. I’m sitting on my ass as I write this.

I noticed things in the article that we “do right” around our house. We limit time spent on video games and TV. We watch a lot of  commercial free kids programming, DVDs primarily. Mostly because I don’t like the endless strings of “I want that!” or “Can we go there for dinner!” they provoke. I prefer the kids focus on things they get the most joy out of (My daughter, dress up, play cooking and animals. My son, drums, nerf guns and swords and yes, video games) rather than have everything they show the slightest interest in. I want them to look at indulging in fast food as a treat, not an everyday occurrence. Everyday is not an occasion to eat like a king, or what the people hawking frozen fat bombs claim is eating like a king.

I also refuse to have more than one TV. The kids can have their own when they can afford to buy it themselves. I can’t sleep with a TV on so we’re not putting one in our bedroom. The computer stays in the living room too.

Part of being a family means occupying the same space. I believe that learning to get along and choose what we watch builds skills in sharing, compromise and other social skills. From that philosophy we may have stumbled onto something that may be inherently healthier for our children.

I may be justifying the article in hindsight here, but I think I can see some of what it talks about in my life. As the economy has gotten worse and our budget has tightened, I’ve turned away from active hobbies (I enjoy woodworking and geocaching) and more towards old standbys from my years spent overweight. Online chess, books, movies and yes, I play video games too. These are fairly inexpensive “activities” when compared to driving an hour to find a geocache or buying $300 in hardwood to build something I could buy for $100 at the local outlet store.

I have kept fat off my middle pretty well since I joined weight watchers 2 years ago and after six months of my old hobbies I’ve had to go back on a strict weight loss diet. I’m not claiming sitting is the only reason for this, but there’s every reason to believe it’s part of it.

I’m going to make a few changes and see what effect it has over the next few months. One, there are two grocery stores less than a mile from my house. I’m going to dust off my bike, have it tuned up and buy a big rack and saddle bags for it. Yes, it’s winter, but I’m still wearing shorts and my fives. I don’t get cold until it’s under 40. I can handle a couple of half mile bike rides in the “cold” to pick up milk and other small purchases. We make at least three of these runs a week. That’s another 30 min of activity and 10 fewer minutes spent sitting in my truck.

I’m going to skip one break at work and spend it barefoot and stretching. Another 20 minutes spent on my feet.

On the weekends, I’m not sure but I think some walks around the neighborhood with the kids on their bikes will be in order.

I’m just going to sit less.


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