Home Opinion & Features A terribly unhealthy habit

A terribly unhealthy habit


“Inactivity has been linked to 5.3 million deaths globally a year,”

One problem I have is that I tend to become almost obsessed when I am busy with something.

I always want to do “just this one thing” and then three hours later I find that I have done several “one things” and I have been slouched over my workstation – sitting down, back hunched, chest compressed, neck craned forward and shoulders angled inward.

The smokers in the office – those who logic tells me should be the ones who are damaging themselves with an unhealthy habit – get up every so often because they get fidgety. And although I am not encouraging anyone to take up smoking, the mere act of moving away from the desk can do wonders for the body and mind.

I read recently that desk-bound workers are putting their lives at risk. Not only that, “Inactivity has been linked to 5.3 million deaths globally a year,” the article said. “Compared with 5.1 million linked to smoking. It’s also known to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.”

I have found tremendous benefit in getting up occasionally – when I remember – and taking a short walk around the office. I find that it actually clears the mind.

So after reading that article, I did an activity inventory.

I spend my mornings reading from my laptop’s screen, then I do some writing on the laptop, or I watch a short lecture or two on the same screen.

At breakfast, I occasionally watch YouTube videos on my tablet. Then, later on, I check my WhatsApp messages on my phone – after all, doesn’t everyone do it these days?

At work, I spend my day looking at a computer screen for hours on end and when I eventually do decide to take a ‘break’ I check my WhatsApp or quickly check to see what’s happening on Facebook.

When I get home I ‘unwind’ by playing a game on my tablet.

My poor brain! That is a lot of screen time!

I read a story a few years back. It made me think about how I am abusing my body and mind.

There was a woodcutter whose fame as being the best with an axe had spread far and wide. One day, however, a strong young man arrived in the tiny village and challenged the old man to a contest.

“In one working day, let us see who can fell the most trees,” the young man suggested.

In order for the contest to be fair, the trees had to be a certain height and have a minimum thickness. The two men agreed to the terms and at sunrise the next day they started.

In the first hour, the young woodsman carved his way through trees as if they were made from butter. His strength and fitness had the villagers in awe. The old man went along steadily, but after an hour he took a break the young man, barely breaking a sweat, carried on.

And so it went throughout the day, the young man diligently hacked away, while the old man, as could be expected, had to stop and rest every hour.

By the end of the day, a signal was given and the trees were counted. The young man looked as fresh as ever and he confidently waited for the result, certain that he had won. However, to everyone’s surprise, especially the young woodcutter, the old man had felled seven more trees than the young man.

“How is that possible?” the young man exclaimed. “You never worked for half the time that I did and you cut more trees? You must have cheated!”

Some of the villagers, though they had known the old man for a long time, nodded in agreement and started murmuring amongst each other.

The old man smiled, stood up and raised his hands to silence the chatter.

Then he said, “Friends, there is something you did not notice, and that is that every time I stopped to rest,” he said, “I wasn’t tired. I was taking the time to sharpen my axe.”

Personally, I think that’s some incredible wisdom right there.

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