Sometimes I wonder if Wall-E was not just a movie but also a glimpse into our future. The rotund shapes of citizens, who lived off chemical foods and used artificial transportation mechanisms, looked funny and cute in the Pixar movie. But slowly and surely, we are becoming them.
A study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis surveyed 51,000 people from 2001 to 2016 and came to a stark conclusion: we increasingly spend our lives in a sedentary fashion. Whether it is binge-watching Netflix or working on the computer, the data from the study shows that we are spending less and less time being active. As kids grow ever more accustomed to being glued to a screen from an early age, this problem is only going to grow.
According to the report, the estimated usage of computer use outside of work and school has increased across the board. It’s up 56 percent for children, 57 percent for adolescents, and 50 percent of adults. From 2007 to 2016, total average sitting time per day rose from 7 hours to 8.2 hours for adolescents. For adults, it went from 5.5 hours to 6.4 hours.
I suspect this trend will only accelerate as the separation between the home and the office continues to blur. The rise of augmented and virtual realities will also increase our sedentary lifestyles. Our current tools of convenience, including on-demand services such as Caviar and Uber, already obviate the need for daily walking. Prime Now means there’s no need to go to the local store. Why shop for groceries when you can use GoodEggs? Helpful as they are, these services are eating into our daily steps.
I admit, I actually have to slot time to go for a walk in an effort to get my 10,000 steps in — and the truth is, I really need 20,000 to keep in shape. While I don’t watch much television, I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the computer. I may be doing productive things — working, reading, editing photos, or whatever — but I’m not walking. So, as part of my ongoing crusade against my laziness, I keep track of studies like this latest one from St. Louis.
Honestly, the results are scary as hell. At this rate, how long before we’re all living like we’re aboard the Axiom?
This first appeared on my April 28, 2019, weekly newsletter. If you like to get this delivered to your inbox, just sign-up here, and I will take care of the rest.