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I like to move it, move it—or not

BY EDIE GROSS

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

I STARTED wearing a pedometer this week to quantify how truly sedentary I am.

The answer is very.

I logged 6,000 steps the first day, about 4,000 shy of a healthy goal. And in the interest of full disclosure, half of those steps were earned by me flopping around like a crazy person trying to get a bug out of my hair.

The American Heart Association remains mum on the health benefits of a prolonged bug freak-out, but I’m here to tell you that it’s quite an aerobic workout.

The pedometer was a gift from my employer, who would very much appreciate it if I didn’t die of heart disease, at least while I’m under the company’s health insurance plan.

The way I figure it, heart disease can get in line—there are plenty of other things waiting to kill me.

For starters, I inhaled a lot of chalk dust as a kid. For our younger readers, in the old days, before white boards and dry-erase markers, teachers wrote stuff on blackboards—oddly, these were usually green, not black—with chalk made of asbestos, phosphorus, arsenic, gun powder, attic insulation and other equally lung-friendly ingredients.

Every now and then, I cough and out comes a plume of chalk dust reminiscent of one of Mrs. Darrow’s interminable long-division lessons.

Between that and the red M&M’s they fed us during snack time, it’s a wonder any of us survived to adulthood.

For those of us who did, it appears our days here are numbered. Try Googling “harmful to your health” and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s not just the obvious stuff that pops up, like telling “Yo Mama!” jokes to rodeo bulls or mixing up your scented candle collection with your scented dynamite collection.

Something as seemingly innocuous as accepting a receipt from a cashier can shorten your life span. Recent studies show that some receipts contain a chemical called bisphenol-A or BPA, which has been shown to cause cancer in the wallets of lab rats.

Worse yet, if that receipt was for the purchase of a soda, the brown coloring in the drink can contain 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, which is chemist-speak for “you will choke on your tongue and die trying to pronounce these words.”

You might think that holing up in your house—assuming you live in a rodeo-bull-free environment—would keep you safe. But you’d be wrong.

First of all, there’s the television, also known as the silent killer if you keep it on mute. A study published by the American Heart Association in 2010 concluded that watching TV increased the risk of death by 11 percent.

That was largely due to the elevated suicide rate among people forced to watch “Jersey Shore,” but it’s still pretty alarming.

So to save yourself, you turn off the TV and fix something to eat. But be careful how you do it.

Everyone knows that a steady diet of fried food can lead to a chronic thick Southern accent, but apparently grilling is risky, too.

According to the American Cancer Society, grilling meat can release two potentially carcinogenic compounds: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are fancy chemist words for “substances akin to what you might inhale if you sucked on a city-bus exhaust pipe.”

Also, there’s that pronunciation choking hazard again.

You could commit yourself to a monosyllabic existence and take solace in the fact that you and your loved ones don’t really need words to communicate your feelings.

But be sure you don’t kiss each other either. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, couples can share more than 500 different disease-causing germs and viruses with just one kiss.

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a lip-ravaging communicable disease.

Then again, all that running up and back to the doctor will put miles on your pedometer, which I’m told goes a long way toward preventing heart disease.

Plus, the faster you move, the harder it is for bugs to settle in your hair.

Edie Gross: 540/374-5428

egross@freelancestar.com

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