Health section causes another guilt trip |

Health section causes another guilt trip

Terri Harber

Since spring officially started less than a month ago, we’ve sometimes had some really good weather. The unpredictability — warm or cold — has made it difficult for some people to restart a warm weather exercise routine.

I’m one of them. Those piles of magazines between me and my bicycle make it hard to reach. Moving all that junk out of the way might hurt my back. Not pulling the bike out of its winter storage spot means I’ve avoided another sports-related injury.

That should make my health insurer happy.

I was reading the story in the Nevada Appeal’s health section last week about walking. It was a little too wet to go walking outside, so at least I had good intentions.

Reading about exercise might get me in the mood for it later. It probably burns a fraction of a calorie more to turn the page of a book, magazine or newspaper than just to sit and watch TV.

Hey, a fraction is better than nothing. Except for one small bite of a cookie, which would only be torture.

Oh yeah, my outdoor athletic shoes have disappeared. One more reason not to go outside.

“Magic shoes! They’ve vanished!” I shouted while tossing clogs and platform shoes over my shoulders. Because the athletic shoes were nowhere to be found, my feet were cold. The only matching pair I found: clogs. The Dutch are probably the only people who might be able to power walk in clogs because they invented the darned things.

Couch potatoes like to believe that sitting around and watching TV is challenging because the person is conducting two activities at one time. At least this guy I used to know tried to convince me of that.

“It’s like talking on the telephone and doing dishes,” he said. “Or drinking coffee while doing your grocery shopping.”

“And like chomping on fried pork rinds while preparing to slurp beer?” I asked sarcastically.

“Of course, but that takes even more concentration. And balance. You have to balance the bag of rinds on your lap and the beer between your legs. If you’re watching TV at the same time it’s even more challenging when you need to change the channel. You have to remember where the changer is and what channel you want to watch,” he explained.

“Oh. But wouldn’t a table or a TV tray make it easier?” I asked.

Silence. Except for the genius’s chomping and slurping.

For me, reading the health section is like going on a trip. A guilt trip. Getting up and going somewhere probably burns way more calories than sitting on one’s rump, unless it’s a trip to the kitchen. Major guilt trip opportunity atop the right cabinet, third shelf. Not to mention the first and second shelves. And the refrigerator. Perhaps still under the couch …

While it is recommended that the average person get in at least 10,000 steps of walking in a day, most people take “far less” than 4,000, according to the Associated Press report.

The story explained how it is now believed that people are getting fatter not because they are eating all that much more than previous generations. People are getting bigger because they aren’t getting off their lard-laden butts.

Just call me Crisco. I’m too lazy to get up and look at the newspaper to check whether I’m right.

People are eating more and moving less. Most people don’t run around hunting for food in the forest anymore. They get in their cars and hunt for Burger King and KFC.

There’s a Web site called One section allows calorie-burning calculations. Someone who weighs 175 pounds, for example, burns 84 calories an hour watching TV.

Here are a few of the listings for someone who weighs 175 pounds and does specific things for an hour. The weight is just a random number. The site didn’t include the amount lost just sitting around. Or for sleeping — one of my favorite activities. But here’s a short list:

Walking: 241.5

Chewing gum at the same time might add to the calorie-burning power.

Yoga: 315

The balance and concentration thing must be at play again. Try standing on your head while using one foot to open a can of beer or diet soda and the other to scratch your behind. Magazine readers might have seen the pictures of Madonna doing something similar. My only question: Why?

Swimming: 336

Only in murky water wearing a full-length skin diving outfit. And with a little skirt on top of that.

Shoveling snow: 472.5

More dangerous than picking up magazines off of the floor. But very exhilarating. Just ask the people who have suffered heart attacks after the first snow of the season in, say, Colorado.

Tooth brushing: 199.5

Food won’t be an issue if someone spends an hour a day brushing their teeth; they eventually won’t have any teeth left. Bonus: Picking up a fork would be pretty tough with a sore arm.

Bicycling: 514.5

My favorite. And it can be done while wearing clogs. Just don’t lift your legs up off the pedals or the clogs will fall off. This has happened to me.

Housecleaning: 504

No guilt trip could ever make me do that for an hour!

Terri Harber works on the Nevada Appeal’s news desk.