Health and Wellness

A Chair Pear Adventure

A few years ago, when I signed up for ANOTHER fitness challenge, I thought about my personal challenge with fitness. I knew I wasn’t a couch potato. Who had time for lounging on the couch watching TV? Not me. But I wasn’t the picture of health and vitality either, and frankly, I didn’t (and still don’t) enjoy the gym culture. 

I decided I was more a Chair Pear than a Couch Potato. While my body did not get up and move, my mind was active.

Okay, so I have an active mind. Great! Now what about the rest of me? Time to put that “active” mind to work.

I’ve thought about what it means to be a Chair Pear. How “Chair Peardom” (as I refer to it) is a way of life for many of us. We enjoy activities that do not require us to move, or even stand up. Unfortunately, it is a way of life that is killing me and you. And scheduling three, half hour or hour gym sessions a week, along with jumping on the latest diet craze to “cure” us is depressing and doesn’t work.

Insidiously over time we have acquired “The Sitting Disease”, a disease that appeared in industrialized nations post World War II with the rise of the office worker and has only recently been given a name. No, this is not a disease you will find in the ICD-10, the doctor’s and insurance companies’ bible for defining what ails us, it is more a collection of body and health challenges that the medical community is beginning to understand are caused by, or aggravated by, how we work and how we seek our leisure in the twenty-first century. The Sitting Disease has even been proclaimed to be worse than smoking.

Two years ago, I discovered a book that changed my life: GET UP! Why Your Chair Is Killing You And What You Can Do About It by Dr. James A Levine. In his book he talks about health challenges that are either caused by too much sitting or aggravated by too much sitting. He even has an “ABC of Illnesses”, one – sometimes more than one – illness or condition per letter of the alphabet!

Serendipitously, I read the book about the same time as I had my annual physical, and semi-annual bone density scan. My blood test said I was pre-diabetic, my density scan indicated I had slid from osteopenia to full osteoporosis, and the scale said I was overweight. I was already taking medicine for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and calcium with vitamin D for my bones (I’m not a candidate for Fosamax or Boniva or other bone med – more on that in another post).

All in all, when I compared his list to my conditions, I identified eight that I suffer from in one degree or another:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Kyphosis (dowager hump)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Fat gain / obesity
  • Pre-diabetes

In part because of the Sitting Disease and our 21st century high tech culture, our health is declining at a younger age. While twenty years ago science told us we were living longer, now science is discovering the quality of life is going down as we age, we are suffering more chronic illnesses that diminish our quality of life. We have gone the opposite direction. Why is that? Why hasn’t the living longer, feeling strong trend continued? I want to go roaring into my retirement, not slinking into retirement nursing one chronic illness or another. I am on a journey to learning more about the Sitting Disease and what I can do to help myself. This website is for sharing my journey and learnings with you.

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