Is Convenience Destroying Humanity?
Everyday new technology is developed to make some part of our lives easier and/or more productive. These technologies and innovations are contributing to the sedentary lifestyles that many of us have become accustomed to. Almost every device that has ever been invented (excluding medical advances of course) has contributed to the decline of our health. Ever wondered why America has an obesity epidemic? It's not just because of high calorie diets. A lot of the blame lies in the types of lifestyles that most people today choose to live. These lifestyles are directly supported and perhaps encouraged by our modern conveniences.
How much more time do you spend in front of a TV or the computer today than you did when you were young? The computer, and the endless things you can do with it, has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. A good number of jobs these days require employees to sit in front of a computer screen for several hours at a time. Aren't you doing that right now? When people get home from work, they use the computer again to check their email, look up recipes for dinner, and check their bank accounts. TV's also get turned on quickly. A 2009 study by the Nielson Company said that the average American spends more than 8 hours a day in front of screens (this includes TV and other screens). This means that a significant portion of an average American's day is spent being sedentary.
Mobile devices are really no more healthy then their desktop counterparts either. Even most mobile phones are used while down (hopefully not while driving a car!). Mobile devices exist to make our life more convenient. Now we can get test messages, phone calls, and the Internet wherever we are whenever we want to. Because it's so easy to enthrall yourself into the internet on your phone or the latest addicting app, we tend to find more excuses to live a sedentary life.
Drive Time: Cars & Trucks
Cars are also a big item to blame for obesity and other diseases. While vehicles have allowed for many freedoms not afforded to us 100 years ago, they also have contributed to the decline of our health. The average commute time to work for an American is around 26 minutes. That's about 13.2 days per year spent sitting in a car. Think about that for a second. Almost two weeks of your life, per year, is spend sitting in a car driving to work. If you had chosen to walk or ride a bike to work instead, you could have burned enough calories to lose about 10 pounds of excess weight.
Let's not forget about the risks of injury or death associated with driving (or even being a passenger for that matter) in a car. According to the National Safety Council, there were more than 10,800,000 motor vehicle accidents in America in 2009. These accidents resulted in over 33,808 deaths and 2,217,000 injuries in that year. Statistically speaking each American will be involved in at least 3 car accidents within their lifetime. The numbers are staggering - this is why driving poses such a health risk to people.
And there is a third way that driving a car can harm your health - stress. With growing traffic congestion and longer commute times the incidents of road rage and aggressive driving become more prevalent. People's stress levels are increasing this is certainly a cause for many health problems. Doctors will tell you that stress can cause any number of ailments including headaches, depression, and even over eating.
Any tool that allows you to complete a job quicker while expending less energy is also contributing to the obesity problem and the decline of our health. When you use an electric screwdriver instead of a manual one, less calories are burned by the operator when installing the screws. The benefit of using the electric tool is that you can get the job completed faster and in a better manner than you could by hand. The downside of using it is that you receive less exercise and health benefits. While using an electric screwdriver instead of a manual one seems trivial, this idea can carry over to every other tool and device that we use in our everyday lives.
Convenience foods (including fast food restaurants) are another major cause of the decline in America's health. It is now easier than ever to eat large quantities of fattening foods quickly and cheaply. There are a multitude of fast food restaurants available to you in almost every town in America. A two-thousand calorie stomach stuffing meal is likely obtainable anyone who can spare 15 minutes and 15 dollars. People these days are busier than ever. A quick and convenient meal (albeit an unhealthy one) caters exactly to that lifestyle. The advent of convenience foods have significantly contributed the amount of calories the average American now consumes. Our hectic modern lifestyles also contribute to us eating more food.
A Cure for Convenience?
So if convenience is the one of the causes of obesity, then what is the cure? Everyone should make an attempt to strive for new inconveniences in their lives. That is to say people need to find creative ways to balance their busy schedules with the necessity to eat right and get exercise. Any small change in your lifestyle can have a significant impact on your health. If you have time, complete tasks as manually as possible instead of using a machine (this will help the environment too). Consider walking to the mailbox instead of driving to it. Choose to carry groceries in baskets instead of using the shopping carts. Take time to enjoy a real meal instead of succumbing to the whims of a fast food giant. And don't forget to take the stairs instead of giving in to the convenience of the elevator.