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Move It Or Lose It

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to read articles about health.

Sure, you will get tips on how to feel better, but you will also learn about all the brand new illnesses scientists are discovering, the ones you’re convinced you’re going to get, or you’ll come across a strange and vicious killer microbe, which you just know is lurking in the bottom of your favorite fondue dish.

I tell you — reading about how to stay well can definitely make you sick.


Despite my sensible approach to remaining as ignorant about health issues as I am about most other issues, I recently stumbled on a pithy Tara Parker-Pope article in The New York Times’ AskWell column.

Provocatively titled, “Get Up, Stretch, Walk,” the purpose of the blurb was to answer the question, “What are good exercises for folks who spend much of their day sitting at a computer?”

Of course, I don’t spend all my day sitting in front a computer. Sometimes I sit in front of a television set. Other times, I sit in front of the taco bar at the SmorgyBob’s. And when I’m not sitting, I’m lying down. All that sitting can be quite tiring.

According to Ms. Parker-Pope’s main resource, Jack Dennerlein, a professor at Northeastern’s Bouve College of Health Sciences, it is important to take regular breaks from sitting — programmed breaks, which adhere to the 20-20-20 rule: “Every 20 minutes, walk 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more.”

I’m not a Ph.D. in advanced arithmetic, but the way I figure it, that means you are going to take 24 mini-walks in an eight-hour day. And that means you are going to soon gain yourself a reputation as a human jumping bean. (In science, the technical name for this condition is “Ants in the Pants.” The only cure is a 60-inch, HD plasma screen, mounted at the foot of your bed.)

Where you decide to walk is up to you, but for those of us who have nowhere to go, Professor Dennerlein suggests that a logical destination would be to “stop by a co-worker’s desk.”

Clearly, the good professor has no idea of the psychos who work at your company. Pay more than one visit to the weirdos within 20 feet of your desk, and you’ll either find yourself slapped with a sexual harassment suit or half your department will show up at your house with Xboxes under their arms, ready to spend the evening, eating your food, drinking your drink and keeping you up until dawn playing World of Warcraft.

I also think the professor has neglected to consider the consequences of the “pay-back visit.” Once you start popping in on your co-workers, they’re certain to start popping back. Assuming there are at least 10 people within 20 feet of your desk, that means that for every hour you sit at your desk and work, you can expect 30 visits from your colleagues.

As the visits spread geometrically throughout the company, it’s clear that it won’t take long before everyone in the office is spending every minute of every day visiting everyone else. Think of how distracting you will be! Think of how friendly you will have to be!

“Hi, Marge, what’s new? It’s been almost 18 minutes since we last visited.”

Professor Dennerlein also suggests that the purpose of your walkabout could be to get a cup of coffee. Now, that sounds really healthy. At three cups of coffee an hour, eight hours a day, you should be able in ingest enough caffeine to keep you running around the office like a whippet. Or, if your coffee resource is a Starbucks, 24 cups a day will surely leave you caffeinated and broke.

Professor Dennerlein’s final suggestion for when you achieve lift-off from your office chair is to pace. This could also lead to problems. When your colleagues see you pacing back and forth in the hallways, they’ll surely assume that you are worried about the future of your job, if not the future of the entire business.

Soon panic will spread, and when management learns that it was you who started the rumors of doom, you will definitely have a reason to start pacing because you’re going get fired, no doubt about it.

On the positive side, getting canned will allow you to free yourself from the gravitational pull of your office chair, so you can spend your days standing up — in the unemployment line. It’s not lucrative, but it is healthy.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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