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David Bouchier: In Defense Of Sitting

Image by Pepper Mint from Pixabay

As winter creeps up on us many of our habits change. We stay indoors more, probably eat more and exercise less. This is exactly the kind of thing that the propagandists of the fitness industry keep warning us against. Most of us senior citizens have been hearing this same old refrain for half a century or more. We have heard it all and ignored it all before, and we’re still here.

There’s no doubt that the COVID fiasco has slowed life down, quite literally. At the beginning the streets and parks were full of newly-enthusiastic joggers and walkers, and stores specializing in fitness equipment were sold out so that you couldn’t buy a set of weights or a stationary bicycle anywhere. Now the streets and parks are mostly empty, and there is an enormous amount of secondhand fitness equipment for sale on eBay. We are embracing the new normal, which means moving much less. There are no meetings to go to, no stand-up social events, fewer big stores to walk around or car parks to walk across. What we are doing instead is a lot of sitting.

This is clearly an opportunity for some of us to shine. I have always had a talent for sitting and, over the years, it has matured into a kind of genius. I can and do sit on anything: flat rocks, leather armchairs, park benches, office chairs, recliners and just about any object that will support the grateful human anatomy. It’s hereditary. My mother and grandmother were both champion sitters, and both lived to be 100.

The only trouble with sitting is that it gets no respect. Somehow, perversely, sitting has become associated with idleness. Yet most of the work of the world is done by people sitting down, like our 3 million civil servants, and untold numbers of computer programmers and office workers. At home, every new technological gadget encourages us to sit more and move less, from the old-fashioned remote control to the fully automated wireless home in which just about everything can be controlled from your armchair. Voice-operated systems save even the effort of pressing a switch or a button. Everything is geared to minimal movement, zero physical effort, and so we sit.

Sitting needs to be recognized as an activity like any other, and perhaps even as a sport because sitting performance can be measured. Fitness enthusiasts monitor their daily exercise by carrying a little electronic gadget somewhere on their bodies that tells them how far they have moved, how fast, how many calories they have used, and so on. The results, I’m sure, give them a feeling of achievement and superiority. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it leaves the rest of us out.

I am looking for an entrepreneur to finance a new gadget that will allow us to measure and be proud of our new immobile lifestyle. It’s called the SITBIT. With two triple-A batteries inserted, and attached to the appropriate part of your anatomy it will measure your total sitting time, so you can boast about it later via Skype to your sedentary friends. The SITBIT will allow you to count your hours of sitting at the end of every day, and see how many calories you have saved by not moving. In our new post-exercise world, you too can be a winner.

Copyright: David Bouchier


David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost 20 years. He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996.