I am doing a brilliant Coursera course Introduction to Global Health
and this is my attempt at an essay! Thinking about this since writing this, would someone help me invent a form of transport where dancing makes it move – using arms, legs, hips, elbows, knees…
A strategy for the prevention of the effects of a sedentary lifestyle in Britain.
I have chosen this for personal reasons – I am asthmatic, overweight, and a retired office worker living in London and because my experience makes me think there are interesting possibilities.
Rajna Golubic has written:
“Lack of physical activity detrimentally increases several risk factors for chronic disease and death, including raised blood levels of lipids, glucose, as well as high blood pressure.
Inactive people are more likely to develop obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), osteoporosis and some cancers (breast and bowel), all of which pose major public health problems.
Interestingly, evidence emerges concerning the link between low activity and a greater risk of dementia, depression and impaired physical function in the elderly.
Convincing research suggests that sedentary behaviour has harmful health effects independent of physical activity, meaning that high levels of activity don’t cancel out the effects of sitting down for extended periods of time.”
The risk factor of sedentary lifestyles is important in my context because I am personally at risk and the Lancet has stated that
“Because much of the world’s population is inactive, this link presents a major public health issue.”
“Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide.
The strategy requires defining where it is required and who it is aimed at. I am proposing an almost complete redesign of all aspects of our environments. This will of itself cause huge resistance, but our existing ways of being are only habits, and by experimenting with different environments, appropriate ways may easily become normal.
“Physical activity can be pursued in four ‘domains’ of daily life including leisure time, work, transport and at home.”1
Arguably, physical activity has become endangered in urban situations and survives primarily in the leisure domain. A key purpose of my strategy is for activity to be normal across all domains and throughout life.
Homo Sapiens is a very mobile primate, what should all our environments look, smell, hear, taste and feel like? Are there opportunities for climbing, play and fun for adults not only children everywhere and everywhen?
““Laughing” is probably one of the most important social behaviours we have.”
The main stakeholders are planners, architects, health, government, business, artists, comedians, people. Volkswagen’s Fun Theory is an example.
Wherever and whenever someone goes, interesting fun things should happen, people should have choices to climb over or under things, hear echoes, have magical experiences – a fountain in Montlucon France asks you to wet the noses of lions and make a wish! Buses, trains, offices, all should be made fun and exciting. Dancing and celebration would be far more common.
The urban landscape would also have plenty of opportunities for napping. “Take regular naps. People who nap at least five times a week for half an hour have 35% reduced chance of cardiovascular disease. Stress hormones also decrease when you’re napping.”6 The environment would of course use the best examples of inclusive design.
This strategy does require a complete redesign of how we work, including asking fundamental questions about ergonomics – are chairs for example actually a major health risk? Should we be squatting?
The delivery mechanism for this policy would be contagion, well placed examples allowing others to copy and riff on and develop the ideas.
 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bdpl5 Sophie Scott comment in programme. This programme also discusses laughter