April 23, 2018
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The tale of a couch potato

By Emmet Meara, Special to the BDN

I am a dead man, walking.

According to the website Divine Caroline, I am doing everything wrong in my extended retirement. The more you sit, the shorter you live, is the basic message.

You know how it is. You plan to walk to the post office, a 2-mile jaunt that will get the heart pumping on the way back, uphill. But you know Maine weather in May. One day it is pouring sideways, the next day there are near-hurricane winds sweeping Camden streets.The best-laid hike plans always seem to go astray.

There is too much traffic for the bike and too many whitecaps for the kayak. Some days typing this column is the only significant movement at Cobb Manor.

It’s too cold to walk. Or too hot. Or too windy. It’s too late. Or it’s too early. I don’t feel well. My feet hurt. Looks like rain. Maybe snow.

A recent study (I hate those) in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who sat for six hours a day had a significantly higher mortality rate than those who sat for three hours a day. What about 12 hours a day? A walk to toast an English muffin is the most exercise I get some days.

A major contributor to the couch potato life is, of course, the trusty computer. Another study (hate them) by Ball State University indicated many of us spend nine hours a day in front of the television and computer. Sometimes I am on the computer in front of the television. I wonder if that is twice as bad.

If that isn’t depressing enough, the Nielsen Company’s Three Screen Report study (another one!) reported that lazy Americans watch 153 hours of television every month. That does not count computer time. Most television shows such as “Dancing with the Idols” (that will be next) bore me to tears. But I will watch virtually any movie without gunshots and a car chase, and any event that includes the Red Sox (wait ’til next year), Patriots or the Celtics. I will watch the Bruins only if they get to the Stanley Cup finals.

I have my limits, after all.

According to the National Health Interview Survey (another one), we should at least do 30 minutes of “moderate” physical activity, at least five days a week. That’s pitiful. But not as pitiful as the fact that 40 percent of those surveyed don’t do any exercise, “moderate,” or not.

Let’s find some more studies to make it even more depressing. Divine Caroline has a million of them, all bad.

This time it is the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, which reports that the average American spends more than 33 percent of the week sitting. I would estimate my total is at least twice that much.

As a result of the country’s collective weight gain, Divine Caroline reported that specialized office furniture is now made to support heavier loads. Theater seats increased from 19 to 21 inches in the last century. Doors and church pews have gotten a little wider, too.

Church pews?

Chief Al (skinny as an exclamation point) used to call all the time for a “geezer walk” around the golf course. This was much too beneficial so I simply stopped answering the phone.

If I want to live any longer, I must vow to do my 30 minutes a day from now or find a heavier girlfriend. The super-sleek Blue Eyes takes great pleasure watching me try to fit into a movie theater seat. Luckily, we have not been to Fenway Park recently, where the seats have shrunk dramatically over the years, much like my favorite T-shirts.

Maybe I will even answer those calls from Chief Al.

Hey! It’s a start.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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