Sit down before you read this

Have you heard the saying ‘Sitting is the new smoking’? If not, read ‘The dangers of sitting: why sitting is the new smoking’/ Victoria State Government Better Health Channel. This article discusses the dangers of prolonged sitting for physical and mental health. It also suggests remedies and activities, for all ages, to counter the modern perils of being sedentary.

After reading this article I reflected as I sat in my Melbourne sitting room. Recently I stayed overnight with my sister and her husband in their newly built house in an established Brisbane suburb. My sister is a (Buddhist) real estate agent and my brother-in-law is a (business-like) yoga teacher. Their residence has a large downstairs yoga studio where he conducts classes. It’s the size of a ballroom. When I looked in I just wanted to do the Pride of Erin.

In their household there are only the two of them. They rarely have overnight visitors. One reason could be that there is only one spare bed, which is an austere Japanese one with in austere Japanese mattress. They are strict vegetarians. Not one bonito flake is tolerated. No alcohol or drugs, meat, smoking or toxic person is allowed into their house. Their bodies are their temples. They visit India, or Bali, at least once a year. It seems however that a lot of potentially dangerous sitting is overlooked or accommodated.

I was waiting at my sister’s house for my brother to pick me up to take me to the airport. To while away the slow humid moments, I counted the number of places in my sister’s house where one could sit. I counted fifty five seats - fifty five places on pieces of furniture – upon which one could be seated. The fifty five seats included: dining chairs, benches, armchairs, lounge suites, Bali milking stools, Ikea kitchen stools, garden chairs or benches and many, many more. My rule was that a piece of furniture, specifically designed for sitting upon, was included as a countable seat - thus the Lotus position on a yoga mat was not allowed.

I counted all of the places to sit for dining/eating, reading, watching TV (only spiritual/instructive programs), computing, gossiping, relaxing, resting, putting on one’s shoes, snoring away, chatting, cutting one’s toenails, paying the bills ... and then I considered the number of places I had actually sat upon. I had sat on my austere bed to tie my laces and on one of the several lavatory seats. I sat to eat dinner and, on the same chair at the ‘casual setting’ near the kitchen, to eat breakfast.

The most talking I did with my sister, who for one reason and another was deeply troubled, was as we leant together side by side, against the window sill, looking out over the park opposite her house. In the cooler Brisbane evening air, before teatime, we watched an Asian couple walking backwards around the oval. We watched kids practising cricket. We watched joggers. We watched mothers pushing jaunty prams with one hand, paying no attention to their babes who struggled to sit up and engage their parent about the world or themselves. My sister and I stood and talked about troubles as the sea breeze touched our faces like a cool balm.

When I came home to Melbourne I counted the number of places in my house where one could be seated. When I had counted a sobering twenty three I resolved to save my health and my soul by standing more and looking out at the world. And stepping out into it more often.

(Image of Art Deco club chair courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

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