MSNBC posted an article the other day discussing the results of a study on obesity. No, that’s not the part that’s news. Studies on obesity, weight control methods, health risks (never benefits, always risks, even when fat proves to have beneficial properties) connected to weight, use of battery-operated weasel socks to combat fat, etc. come out all the time, and most mainstream news sources put the articles at the top of their lists. Why? Because people read them. One more story about weight and how to combat it isn’t news. The part that’s news is what the study informs us we should do about our weight.
Anyway, the theory is that some 30% of white people of European ancestry (no word on any other ethnicity) have a gene variant that makes them more likely to gain weight. The study was done to see if exercise can combat genetics.
The answer was an overwhelming yes! Apparently all you have to do to be thin is to exercise moderately…for three to four hours a day, Amish style.
Three to four hours a day? Unless you have a physically strenuous job or the kind of lifestyle that allows you to spend the entire day at the gym with your personal trainer, that just doesn’t sound likely for most of us. Also, the people who ‘overcame’ their genetics to be slim were among the Amish of Lancaster County, PA. Their daily lives include working fields with teams of oxen, milking cows, scrubbing laundry without a washing machine, feeding and tending horses, cows, oxen, pigs, and a dozen other kinds of domesticated work and food animals. These activities are more strenuous than the author’s suggestion that we all just use the stairs once in a while, take a brisk walk after dinner, or do bit of modern-style housecleaning. I don’t know about you, but my laundry routine doesn’t include scrubbing garments on a washboard one by one, cranking a wringer, or hanging everything out to dry on a clothesline by bending and lifting and pinning and doing it again ad nauseum.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for exercise. I not only don’t have a car of my own, I don’t even have a driver’s license. I walk everywhere I go unless I’m going a very long distance…say more than five or six miles. I do my own housework. I can carry a fair amount of poundage in my arms. I encourage everyone to find fun ways to move that keep the body flexible and strong. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the couple hours a day I actually get to spend with Mr. Twistie fending off a couple ‘spare’ pounds.
I actually enjoy spending time with my husband, with my friends, and yes, even watching television.
I’d also like to point out that I have in my possession (on my wall and everything) a photograph of my great-great grandmother. She lived in the nineteenth century. In point of fact, her husband (my great-great grandfather) fought in the Civil War. My great-great grandmother lived in a time when the way the Amish live now (in terms of physical activity, at any rate) was just plain how people lived. She bore and raised nine children, living on a working farm. She worked in the fields alongside the men. In addition to that, she helped tend the animals, did the cooking, cleaning, laundry, sewing, and child care. She chopped wood and built her own fires. In short, she was physically active a lot more than three to four hours out of every day. And you know what?
In that photograph, taken when she was about four or five years older than I am today, she was still considerably fatter than I am now.