Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin. For a start stop sitting so much.
There’s no reason in the world why you can’t read this column standing up, something you could also do while you fill the dishwasher, feed the cat and serve up breakfast.
No doubt you do all that already. I’m sure you have read the various studies which advise older people to get on the move and you’ve exhausted yourself with the effort. Not only that, precious time when you could be sitting down perusing your memories with a nice cup of tea is passing you by as you flit around trying to keep active to keep ill health at bay. Hasn’t your doctor told you to take up walking and visit the gym once a week?
Well, if you’ve listened to others exhorting you to rush around all the time like some kind of whirling dervish but in reality you are exhausted and just want to put your feet up, then you can.
In fact I felt a great sense of relief this week to read that elderly people must ‘reclaim the right to sit down.’ It has come from a leading academic Dr Emmanuelle Tulle of the University of Glasgow who believes the state is interfering too much in our lives, particularly our exercise habits.
It’s bound to be making us feel guilty if we don’t do as we’re advised. Dr Tulle told the British Science Festival in Bradford that ``health officials are intent on turning sedentary behaviour into a disease. We’re supposed to be
constantly on the move.’’
She doesn’t like the message being put out that sitting down is akin to you ‘‘being on a direct course to death.’’ She says we are getting to the point where ``insurance companies may demand to see pedometer readings before they will issue policies.’’
Young people, mostly, are on the move when they’re not attached to their phones or what we used to call Walkmans. Their level of activity can make us tired just looking at them. We forget that in times gone by we were like that too. We almost welcomed the advancing years because it meant we could sit down and no-one could tell us we were wasting time sitting – a favourite chider of my mother who had nine children and seemed determined to keep us on our toes at all times.
I grew up with that mantra inside my head. It was only when I retired that I realised the pleasure of having time to do absolutely nothing if I wished. Of course the inevitable happened. I got bored with all that time on my hands. These days when I should be claiming my right to sit down I find myself unable to. This is partly due to me becoming the owner of a dog who likes to be walked three times a day.
Walking is good says every GP and I have to agree. But dogs are oblivious to rain, hail, snow and storms. They still expect to be walked when I’d much preferred to have remained indoors before the fire with my feet up, reading a book.
When my older son comes to visit he always wants me to sit down and talk. It’s then that the guilt overwhelms me because I know, when the children were small, and I was a full-time working mum that I didn’t have much time to sit down with them. Yes, I read them bedtime stories hoping they’d go to sleep quickly so that I could return to the household chores waiting me in the kitchen.
I did go to rugby matches and perform the usual taxi duties. But time was in short supply and I fear to ask my son if his perception of me all those years was literally that of the whirling dervish. Is it only now that he can get me to sit down and talk? For him I now claim my right to sit down to talk and listen. More of us should do it, it’s so good for our health.