The headline on the post dated March 6 of Spraggett on Chess is, “More bad news for chess players…”(https://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/more-bad-news-for-chess-players/) Kevin references a new recently released study, Study shows each hour sitting increases heart disease risk by 14%. This is nothing new because it has been known for a long time that a sedentary lifestyle leads to bad health. Their are many in the chess community who are overweight and I include myself in that category. Like most older people I have gained a few pounds and know from personal experience how difficult it can be to shed them, even with concerted effort. Then there are those who have crossed the line into obesity, such as USCF Board member Alan Priest, who weighs in on almost every thread on the USCF forum. When I first met him at the Kentucky State Championship in 2009 he was huge. The next time I saw Alan was at the scholastic event held at the downtown Hyatt here in Atlanta last year. I could not believe a man that huge could be larger but he has now become gargantuan. My heart goes out to Alan because he obviously has a problem with food addiction. There were a few obese relatives in my family and it did not turn out well for them, with one dropping dead of a heart attack after eating a big mac, and another having to live on dialysis for years. What kind of example is Alan for the children with whom he is in contact at these scholastic tournaments? The best example he could set would be to lose weight, and to do that Mr. Priest needs to begin with an exercise called “push-backs,” as in pushing back away from the table.
Several years ago Dr. Joan Vernikos, research scientist and former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, wrote, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death — and Exercise Alone Won’t. “In Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Vernikos uncovers the unsuspected medical connection between the health dangers of weightlessness in space and the chronic diseases caused by sedentary lifestyles here on Earth. In her research at NASA, Vernikos discovered that movement that resists the force of gravity is essential to good health. In weightlessness, astronauts, who are far fitter than the average adult, seem to rapidly age; their muscles, bones and overall health degenerate to levels usually seen in elderly people. Vernikos found that keeping subjects resting and immobile — an extreme form of the typical American lifestyle — caused the same health problems as extended weightlessness.” (http://www.joanvernikos.com/pages/sitting-kills-moving-heals.php)
Dr. Joan advocates standing for two minutes out of every twenty minutes sitting. Most chess players do this without realizing it. Because of nervous energy most players will stand when it is the opponents move. They will also head to the head much more often because of the nervous energy, and walking is a wonderful thing, even if it is only to the lavatory. Health problems arise when a human sits without moving for hours on end, such as someone who sits in front of a computer turned to the USCF forum and weighs in on every thread.
Simply standing is good for the leg muscles. While waiting for a friend whom I had driven to retrieve a prescription he surprised me by returning to the car much earlier than expected. He caught me standing on one leg, and then the other, which he found amusing. “What are you doing,” he asked with a big grin. When I answered, “What does it look like?” he laughed. I told him that standing on one leg at a time was an isometric exercise and he howled with laughter. I thought of this man, who had trouble walking from the car to the drug store and back, later when reading an article, Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live: Flexibility, balance and muscle strength are key indicators of longevity By Becky Lang (http://discovermagazine.com/2013/nov/05-sit-down). Can you pass this test?