Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Get Up, Stand Up

One of the most glaring differences between my life in New York City and my life in Seattle is the amount of walking I do. In New York City, the subway and buses are often faster than driving anyway, and they save time, money and a lot of frustration (though often present a whole other set). Thanks to this situation the average New Yorker walks faster and farther than most other cities. Even growing up in Queens, far more residential and less accessible than Manhattan, I would walk to my friends' houses and then to the movies, the pizza store, the comic book store, each over a mile away. It was exciting to know that all I needed were my two feet and the good sense to look both ways before crossing the street and I was set. What I took for granted at the time was how much I was moving around in my daily life just to get to where I need to go. Living in Seattle, a city far less accessible by foot, I miss the ease of a walker-friendly city.

To be fair, there are those who walk to work or live in slightly more walker-friendly areas like Capitol Hill or Belltown, but most Seattleites are not walkers. Now Seattle is certainly bike-friendly. Despite the rain there are many committed bike commuters and cyclists and on a good day I count myself as one of them. But most of the time movement and physical activity are things I have to seek out on my own, and usually do, except during those crazy weeks when the course load piles up and I regret returning to school (the past week was one such week).

Studies repeatedly show that sitting for long periods of time cuts your lifespan (something to think about next time you grumble about not having a seat on the subway) and that walking around or even simply standing supports longevity. This news has made classmates of mine into big proponents of the treadmill desk and I can't say I disagree.

Today I was feeling the lack of mobility and since the rain was falling particularly hard I took my book and headed to the gym to pretend that one of the treadmills was my desk. I was reading while walking slowly with an incline but looked up at one point and noticed that one of the large flatscreen televisions was tuned in to the Food Network and was broadcasting Emeril's cooking show. As the camera closed in on the pan sauteing onions and bacon I felt sick to my stomach and looked around to see if anyone else was cringing at the sight. Since my gym is one of the sponsors of The Biggest Loser it's not uncommon to see the weight loss competition broadcast. That has always struck me as odd enough to watch while working out, though I'm sure some people find it motivational. But watching the cooking show while exercising seemed downright pornographic so I actually stopped the treadmill, went to the front desk and asked them to change the channel. They asked what I wanted to watch instead. I told them I didn't care, but the Food Network just seemed inappropriate. After I spoke up several other members told me they were thinking the same thing. I didn't start a revolution but I was proud that I stood up and spoke my mind. Too often we simply accept the status quo, because we are comfortable as is. Maybe we don't feel the issue is important enough or we're relying on someone else to speak up. But sitting complacently on your behind not only does a disservice to the greater public, it also takes years off your life. So get up, speak up and maybe you'll get to stick around a while longer.

1 comment:

  1. Please remember to be kind to the people who work at the gym - treat them like you would treat your own sister!