Live Longer – Another guest blog from Ron.

Woman on Maui beachBack from a brisk January walk with the dog and taking off my walking boots in the porch, I become aware of a man coming through the front gate with a leaflet in his hand. I immediately switch to passive aggressive mode, ready to say no to double-glazing, solar panels or Jesus. But no, the leaflet he hands me is from one of the local health clubs and urges me, with really poor timing, to “Get Active.”

I’m tempted – now that I realise he’s not after my soul – to go all holier than thou and say, “You can save that leaflet for the lesser (grosser) brethren along the street. I’ve just got back from a 10 mile (2 mile) uphill forced march (Suffolk stroll) with my Rottweiler (Poodle/Yorkie cross) in the fresh air so I won’t need a gym.”

Instead, I take the leaflet and read, “Fact: Inactivity shortens a person’s lifespan by up to five years and is currently responsible for 17% of premature deaths in the UK.”

My immediate worry centres on the remaining 83% and what other dangers are lurking between my imminent coffee and me. Rather than throw it in the bin, I find myself seeking out a similar leaflet I’d previously stored in my filing cabinet. I remember that its wording was more arresting:

LAST CHANCE! HEALTH AWARENESS CAMPAIGN! ONLY 25 LEFT!

Twenty five what? Days? Minutes? Last chance? Did I miss the other warnings? That leaflet was filed some months ago so my alarm has lessened a wee bit. Reading on, I’m puzzled but comforted by three bullet points:

  • Eat well
  • Move more
  • Live longer

Instead of seeing a causal link between the first two and the third, my lame little brain has obviously taken them all as literal advice, so that ‘Live longer’ becomes an instruction which I have managed to obey so far. Reading further, I come upon the words that confirm why I didn’t take up the offer at the time: “Non trendy.” It wasn’t that I was only interested in joining trendy clubs; I just didn’t want to be in the same club as people who wanted to avoid trendy clubs. (Copyright Groucho Marx?)

It’s difficult to sidestep the smugness that goes with this next bit. The backdrop to the eighteenth green on the golf course where I play is the air-conditioned gym. As we finish our round, feeling – among other things – virtuous at having walked over four miles, energized by the gentle physical and mental exercise, stimulated and nourished by the camaraderie the game always provides…… it’s impossible not to look through the window at rows of sweaty exercisers going nowhere on high-geared exercise bikes or Nordic Zimmer frames and think, “Why?”

I wonder if they in turn are looking out at us and saying, “Maybe when I’m too old to exercise properly I’ll take up golf and go to the bar afterwards and stock up on a few thousand toxic calories.”

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