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Gristmill: Resolutions

Wed, 02/01/2023 - 18:21
Coffee’s on. It’s the American way, here after dinner at a restaurant in Lufkin, Texas, in 1939.
Farm Security Administration / Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

So how’s the New Year’s resolution going? Me, just today I lurched from my swivel chair right after completing some important if transitory Star task and bolted outside in time for a 5 p.m. run. Taking advantage of the last of the suddenly noticeably longer sunlight in this snowless winter, in other words.

“Getting back into it,” as I like to say of my roadwork. Which is important because otherwise the most exercise I get is bending an elbow. (That would involve a coffee cup, thank you very much.)

Some inexplicably conscientious co-worker posted the other day a CNN online news report (yes, those still exist) about how all you really need is “just under 10 minutes of moderate to vigorous exertion each day” to boost brain cognition. Or at least delay its inevitable shrinkage and decline. A brisk jog? A quick pedal? Given the timeframe and the phrase “vigorous exertion,” no, that other activity you may be thinking of does not count. And anyway, it seems to have gone out with the advent of streaming services.

Surprising, isn’t it, how little effort we’re talking about. It reminds me of another study that got some press, the one that asserted that simply standing in place is the exercise equivalent of running around the block a couple of times. But then, you can find a study to back up pretty much anything these days. The health benefits of coffee? Irrefutable. And, sure, convenient to me personally. To say nothing of critical to the functioning of America’s go-go, caffeinated society, fuel for powering through the drudgery and all that.

The above exertion study, by the way, was conducted among the Brits, and keeping in mind the context of all these studies is essential. Because over there you have a baseline start of nationalized health care, health care not dependent on a job, that is, or luck. Less inequality and more sanity, a better standard of living for the average Joe, no excess of death by despair, and so on.

Last, naturally there’s the context of who’s funding a study, as in the case of another one of note, touting the heart-fortifying effects of red wine. Thank you, industry flacks. Now please excuse me while I choose to believe it.

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