It is very difficult keeping up with the latest science on healthy behavior. That is largely because the science on healthy behavior never seems to agree with itself. Everywhere we turn there is news of something that is likely to kill us or make our brains turn to Jell-O. This week we learned that extensive sitting is once again bad for us.
That was the prevailing opinion for some time, of course. Convinced that this was correct, I purchased a “sit/stand” desk a number of years ago that would allow me to stand much of the time I am at work. Then studies emerged that I might be killing myself with this healthy behavior, as newer studies indicated that standing desks may be hazardous to my health. I had resumed sitting by the time this study emerged, as it turned out standing at my desk for three months played havoc with my knees. As it happened, several studies followed indicating that sitting might not be as bad as people believed.
This morning I read that sitting is once in the crosshairs of the scientific intelligentsia. A recent study indicates that sitting too much may give us Alzheimer's. The researchers conducted brain scans on a group of subjects and found that people who reported more sitting had thinner brain structures.
They probably should have scanned the other end of those people, they would have found where all the structure has gone. I can assure you that extensive sitting is not only the enemy of the masses, it is also the expander of the asses.
So, where do we go from here? Sitting is unhealthy. Standing is unhealthy. I would just give up and stay prone in bed all day, but some anal white coat researcher will eventually spoil that as well. It can drive people crazy, which is probably not healthy for us either.
It is not just the studies on sitting and standing that are continually controversial. Eggs were something once thought healthy, then were killers, and are now healthy again. Cholesterol was the worst thing in the world before it was discovered it wasn't. Margarine, invented to replace that deathly scourge called butter, is now thought to be less healthful than the item it was intended to replace. A study in the 70's showed that black hair dye could cause cancer, if you drank about 25 bottles of it a day over an extended period – like say a couple decades. Heck, even the healthful benefits of smoking were once supported by (well-funded) science.
We should not sit idly by and should take a stand and object to this continual flood of conflicting data. Unfortunately, that current data indicates that either form of protest can shorten our days or erase our memories. I guess those pesky researchers have that wrapped up into a neat and tidy little package, don't they?
What we can safely say about all of the continual conflicts and reversals in scientific research is that life itself appears to be a leading cause of death. And even if life is not the direct cause of death, it certainly can be singled out as a major contributing factor.
Of course, I am sure a study will be along shortly to prove that notion wrong. If I sit enough until that time, the current school of thought says that I won't have the mental capacity to even care.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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