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Sunday Special » People

Posted at: Jan 7, 2018, 12:37 AM; last updated: Jan 7, 2018, 12:37 AM (IST)TAKE MY WORD

Twist, turn and teeter to have an edge on…

Harvinder Khetal
Twist, turn and teeter to have an edge on…
Illustration: Vishu Verma

Harvinder Khetal

A rap and a piece of advice by the doctor only reinforced what my body had been telling me for quite a while now. Symptoms that one could afford to ignore earlier were taking on ominous proportions as one advanced in age. Action was needed to keep on with the energy and to delay the deterioration of youthful and healthy attributes. 

The sluggishness and slowness brought on due to my sedentary lifestyle sparked the resolve to imbue my day with activity — basically a short walk, that I have been unable to make a habit of over the past few years, despite being aware of its advantages Some short spurts and sessions of a stroll is all I can speak of: if not sheer laziness, it’s too cold to venture out one day, and too hot another time, or it’s a headache, or….well, any lame ruse or excuse. 

But the warning this time underpinned the import of the axioms health is wealth and prevention is better than cure. In short, I did not want to teeter over the edge of irreversibility. To teeter is to wobble or walk unsteadily. To teeter on the brink (edge, precipice) is to be very close to a difficult or dangerous situation.

The doctor says that prolonged sitting is detrimental for health. To neutralise its negative effects, he recommends that exercise and physical activity be incorporated in the daily routine. He even gave me a chart of exercises that I could do while sitting. But it’s quite a task: to turn, tilt and twist, trying to not teeter off the chair’s edge, every now and then in office. It’s not quite effectively doable. Specially, with you on the edge (tense) or conscious of colleagues looking askance at you or sniggering behind your back. Who would want to tangle with them? 

It is in this context that when I stumbled upon a news item related to teetering and yet not tottering, it grabbed my eyeballs. It would have also caught the eye of everybody else in my shoes, that is, those feeling the pressure of the rigours of a demanding desk job… and there are so many of us such people, suffering from spondylosis, high blood pressure, or some such lifestyle disease. 

The headline screamed: “Your desk job is killing you”

It also highlighted: “New device to prevent ill effects of sitting”

The promised tool seemed cutting edge (highly advanced).

Citing a study by scientists at the University of Illinois in Chicago, the news report warned that sitting all day at work may slowly be killing you. Sitting has been identified as a risk factor for early mortality. Temptingly, the report informed that now there is a device that can be used while sitting and it could help you overcome the damaging effects of sitting. The equipment stimulates leg movement while sitting at a desk or standing. It is a movable footrest, suspended from the underside of the desk, which enables the feet to swing, twist or teeter. I guess this is one form of teetering that one would not tooter on, but welcome. Though, we are yet to test its efficacy.

The movement of the foot while sitting elevated the metabolic rate and had no detrimental effect on cognitive function, we are told further. “These results suggest that non-exercise active thermogenesis, which we call NEAT, can increase movement and calorie burning, and may have the potential to impact health,” says Craig Horswill, clinical associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition at the university, and senior author of the study.

Non-exercise active thermogenesis (NEAT) is defined as spontaneous activity unrelated to a fitness routine. Thermogenesis is the process of heat production in organisms. There are two other types of thermogenic processes: Exercise-associated thermogenesis (EAT) and diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT).

By the way, ever wondered why we shiver in the cold? Shivering is our body’s way to keep us warm. As the teeth chatter, it raises the temperature. The chemical energy converts into kinetic energy, showing up as heat. Hibernating mammals (some bats, ground squirrels etc) benefit from the hike in body temperature by shivering as they emerge from the warmth of their hibernation.

Nature does beat all our cutting edge (latest, innovative) techniques and tools, doesn’t it? It does have an edge over (to be better than) everything manmade.

Well, cutting edge technology, because of its probability to go wrong, has all the ingredients of setting one’s teeth on edge (to cause one to feel intense discomfort or irritation). The autocorrect on our ‘smart’phones is one that has the potential to go explosively wrong anytime, setting your teeth on the edge. The best is to take it with a pinch of humour. 

For instance, consider this:

Thanks to autocorrect, 1 in 5 people will have gotten a visit from Satan (instead of Santa) last Christmas!

And, there’s this one with love for geography:

“I am hungary.”

“Maybe you should czech the fridge.”

“I’m russian to the kitchen.”

“Is there any turkey?”

“We have some, but it’s covered in greece”

“ew, there’s norway I’d eat that!”

Or, check out this one:

The guy who invented autocorrect for smartphones passed away today.

Restaurant in peace.

Well, always check before you send text if you don’t want to land in soup!


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