Other than addiction – and ANYTHING can be addicting – there are very few downsides to blogging: it sharpens the mind, forces one to evaluate his/her opinions and assumptions based upon fact, improves writing skills, forces you to stay informed, encourages interaction with people from all over the country and even the world, teaches discipline, and on and on.
But there is one downside that fits in with a dangerous trend in American life: blogging is highly sedentary and is just one more activity that takes time away from exercise and encourages snacking.
As statistics have brutally shown, we are a nation of fat-asses, with very poor eating and exercise habits, even in the very professions where physical agility, mobility, strength, stamina, and ability to take instant action are crucial: police and firefighters:
- Memo from U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona to the nation’s cops: lay off the donuts. That goes for firefighters, as well, Carmona said Friday.
In remarks to the National Sheriff’s Association, Carmona said that “being overweight or obese directly impacts job performance when you’re trying to defend the public safety. Remember, when you are called upon, you [must] be ready to back up your partner or a citizen. To me, failing at this calling when challenged would be a fate worse than death.”
Carmona was both a full-time police officer and a trauma surgeon before being tapped by President Bush to become surgeon general. He lamented the decision a few years ago by many public safety departments to abandon minimum physical fitness standards because of liability issues.
“After we got rid of the physical standards,” Carmona said, “It was problematic for most of us because I saw many of my peers who didn’t do the exercise that they needed to. They didn’t stay in physical condition to be out on the streets. And the risk that you entertain is not only for yourself and being not prepared to respond to that worst-case scenario call, but also the potential harm that you put your fellow officers [in] because you’re not physically able to respond appropriately.”
Physical conditioning is crucial in public safety jobs because physical and emotional stress is unavoidable, Carmona said.
“Medical research shows that stress actually changes the nervous system and hormones in ways that encourage fat accumulation around the waist,” Carmona said. “This type of fat has been linked to increased rates of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. National Fire Protection data shows that heart attacks caused by overexertion or stress caused 40 percent of all firefighters deaths in 2001. This is the number one cause of line of duty deaths for firefighters.” [CNN]
It is also a crime that we have reduced or eliminated physical education requirements in school: in my son’s high school phys ed is only mandatory one year out of four. For exercise to do much good, it has to be a habit, and we are not fostering that habit in our teens, where many life habits are developed. Equally bad as the physical effects of being overweight is the habit of physical lazyness – just get up and do something, anything. Do it NOW, we’ll be here when you come back.