A seemingly absurd question. But then, appearances we all know, can be clichedly deceptive. Here is a fact related to the question above: A new analysis of the now famous study – THE INTERHEART – was published in the January 11, 2012 issue of theEuropean Heart Journal: One of the conclusions: Those who own a car and a TV have an increased risk of heart attack. And no sir! It is not related to the ubiquitously bad programming of the TV channels nor to the carbon emissions of the cars. It is, as we all have a hunch, related to the inactivity associated with those two appliances.
Inactivity – or sedentarism, as the authors of the study chose to call the lack of exercise – is very common. I had a feeling that people from developing countries exercise more. What is however incredible is the fact that the exercise during leisure hours (as opposed to work hours) is done less often in low income countries. Seventy percent of the people in developing countries are sedentary vs forty percent in high income nations, during leisure time.
Here are a few more facts gleaned from the new analysis of INTERHEART (done in 52 countries in six continents, enrolling more than 29000 people):
Mild to moderate physical activity at work helps in reducing the risk of heart attack.
Any amount of activity during leisure decreases the risk of heart attack
Heavy physical exercise at work, somehow, doesn’t protect.
The most unifying revelation from the study has been that the above findings about the exercise are applicable to men and women of all ages across the continents and countries. So the same mantra for everyone: increase your physical activity.
Often in the same person, you see both a frugality of movement and obesity and wonder which affected the person first. But it is more important to realize that an inactive thin person is also at a higher cardiac risk. Regardless of body weight, it is important for everybody to exercise regularly. Just maintaining the Body Mass Index (or the body weight) by eating sparingly will not decrease the heart attack risk substantially.
Any amount of exercise is protective. Even walking from a distantly parked car, window-shopping in the malls or a healthy pacing while talking on the phone will help in reducing your risk of having a heart attack. Remember to keep the exercise simple. If you have to wake up before 5am, have to have a shower, wear your best sport clothes and shoes, have a little make-up, drive to the gym before you actually start walking, more are the chances that you will not continue it for long. Hence, like Ranbir Kapoor reminded us in the mobile commercials countless times, "keep it simple silly!”
In answer to the title question, you may keep your TV and car, but compensate for the sedentarism that comes as a free pack along with them. Don’t try to walk till you drop, just enjoy whatever walking you can do, but do it long-term.