Stuck in Your Chair
The words may sound harsh but everyone in the modern world almost everyone is stuck to their chairs. No Indian generation has ever moved as little as today’s generation in India. Most people in Indian cities do not get even 2 hours of moderate exercise per week and a lot of people are completely inactive. Millions of people die from illnesses caused by lack of exercise every year many many times more than terrorist killings all over the world! Chief among the killers are cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and type 2 diabetes. Truth be told, most people do not choose to be consciously lazy but are actually just resisting to the temptations of the modern lifestyle. Television and armchair entertainment is the norm in today’s world. White collar jobs involve hours and hours of remaining glued to computer screens. With cars within the reach of everyone, people now drive even short distances instead of taking a a walk. The eCommerce trend in recent times has ensured that even the little bit of walking and carrying that families used to do at hypermarkets and malls is coming to a close! For a large section of city dwellers, physical activity is almost non existent and is a highly worrying trend if this continues.
Children are growing up in a world that is leaving no time for any physical activities. Earlier generations of Indians were much more active than the present generation. Our parents either walked or rode a cycle to school. Today’s kids are chauffeured to school or are packed inside school buses or taxis because it is definitely dangerous for kids to be walking to school in our crowded traffic congested roads and streets. Students are not really challenged physically in schools because studies are given more priority than PT. At recess, video games and cell phones take more precedence than playing or running. The idle kids of today would much rather travel online than walk by foot. It may be true that some 10 year olds have got great tech skills and some of them can even design mobile applications and start online businesses but ask them to pitch a ball or climb and jump and they would simply collapse. According to Nielson Media research, most children in India watch an average of 3 hours of television per day. This figure does not include time spent watching online movies or playing video games. Combine all different types of media together and you realise that the average kid spends almost 6 and a half hours every day absorbed in sedentary activities leaving little to zero time for outdoor activities or playing.
Digital technologies are reducing the amount of physical activity that we get in subtle ways. To start with, today’s workers do not really have a need to leave the house to go to office or work in the first place. Thanks to cell phones, fast internet connectivity, computers and laptops with fast processors and ram, professionals can work from home however complex be their demands and work requirements. Even walking around the office to chat with a colleague seems to be unnecessary when chatting applications on mobile phones are at hand. Over the course of days, weeks and months, these small effects can make a large and damaging difference to one’s well being.
Slow Weight Gain
Let us take the example of a slim white collar employee who weights between 60 – 70 kgs to start with. Let us say that the worker had two choices. In the first instance he could print all his documents, pick them up from the printer and personally deliver them like a peon to all the relevant colleagues. In this instance, he would have to rise from his chair atleast once per hour and walk at a slow pace for two minutes or so. In the other instance, he could send all his documents by email and would not have to get up from his seat and remain seated the whole time. In the latter example, his energy consumption would have decreased by an amount equaling 500 gms of fat per year. This small example proves that just sending emails makes you fat! After a period of ten years, this person would be 5 kgs fatter just by sending emails. Pile on other lazy choices such as chatting with colleagues on chat applications instead of walking over to their desks, eating at one’s desk, taking the car to work instead of traveling by public transport etc. and you can count an increase of atleast 50 kilos over a decade. If the same person has a more active lifestyle, he could make up for this. But if he keeps his food intake but stops his morning walks or stops exercising, he will gain between 2 – 5 kilos per year! The email example is a shocking but simple idea to prove how our modern lifestyles are making us fat and unhealthy. But like we mentioned there is hope. Just add exercise or a morning walk or a spot of yoga to your routine and you will not only be able to maintain your weight and keep your health in check but also enjoy your life to the fullest.
Tania Verma is the co-founder of Wellintra Fitness and an avid Yoga and Martial Arts Fitness Trainer and Practitioner. Tania lives in Mumbai and New York City.