We are defined by what we do with our time. When it comes to our health, that same adage can be re-stated to read: our bodies are the record of what we do with our time.
If you happen to sit in a chair all day, perhaps you wish for a job where you can move around more often. If you have to stand up all day, or run around from place to place, you may wish for the comfort of a cozy chair and a steady desk where you could sit and concentrate on some quiet work. But have you wondered what your job is doing to your body? Just what are the long-term effects of what you do all day, every day?
Desk work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Any job that involves an extended amount of sitting, whether it be an office job or a driving job, just isn’t healthy for the body. It makes you sick, slowly, over time, without realizing it. It deforms your posture, it fattens you up, slows down your digestive tract and metabolism, widens your hips, flattens your curves, rounds out your shoulders and hunches your back. Your muscles slowly atrophy from all that inactivity, and they get replaced by fat reserves. Before you know it, you get flabby and fragile. At first you’re angry, then you get complacent, and finally you accept it as a normal part of growing old. But it’s not a normal part of the aging process! It doesn’t have to be that way.
By the same token, any job that involves an extended amount of standing up isn’t good for you either. It introduces posture problems of its own, puts extra stress on the spinal column, the hips and the knees, not to mention your feet, and can lead to varicose veins, among other things. You get home exhausted at the end of the day, with pain in your joints and your back, and crash into your bed, only to put your body through the same punishing process the next day. Again I say, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Over the past several years, I’ve seen many people who had the symptoms I described above, and until recently, I used to think it was due to one’s nature or old age, but I was wrong. Those problems could be traced directly to what these people were doing — or not doing. Because, you see, what you aren’t doing is just as important as what you are doing.
In life, it’s very important to counteract the negative effects of any of our activities with their proper antidotes. If what you do all day is sit on a chair, then you must get outside more often, and jog or run or exercise. At the very least, you should do some crunches or push-ups every day. If you stand all day, then you must mobilize your leg and hip joints. It sounds counterintuitive, but think of it this way: if you kept your arms locked outward all day long, wouldn’t you want to bend them at the end of the day? Wouldn’t your elbows feel horrible? It’s the same thing with our knees and hips, except we’ve gotten so used to standing on them all day long, we’ve forgotten that we need to bend them every once in a while, to put those joints through their full range of motion — so do some squats and lunges, and stretch your hamstrings and quadriceps muscles too.
Our bodies were made for motion. They were not made for sitting or for standing up or for lying down. They need constant, varied movement and effort to keep them in shape. If they don’t get it, they deteriorate. We become wrecks of our former selves — flabby, misshapen bags of skin, fat and bones — a sad memory of what we could have been, and no amount of liposuction and plastic surgery and botox is going to fix that, in spite of what some people may think.
Look, if you want to do things right, then you’ve got to figure out what you want in life. You’ve got to figure out what you do with your time all day, and how you can use it better. If you want to start exercising, then you’ve got to carve out time for it in your daily schedule — you need to find the resolve for exercise, and you need to stick to it. If you don’t, just look around you. The majority of people out there never got their act together on staying fit, and they look it. Do you want to be one of them, or do you want something better?
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