Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dear WHO

Dear World Health Organization,

Forgive my presumption in asking you the following questions.  You are an esteemed international body, employing 7,000 people in 150 countries, and I am a small-town single mother whose children are, as we speak, pelting rocks at each other in the street.  Still, I am just so curious about a statement I read recently, that I am compelled to seek answers.  It is:

"The World Health Organization estimates that 95 percent of the world's adult population is inactive, failing to meet minimum recommendations for health of 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity five times a week." -- Washington Post, June 2, 2015

Q: If 95 percent of humanity is failing to meet a certain standard, does that not suggest there is something wrong with the standard itself?  If you were testing for "perfect pitch" or "able to move objects with their minds," then a 95 percent failure rate -- 6.9 billion individuals, in hard numbers -- would not seem like such a big deal.  But when the overwhelming majority of the planet's population cannot pass a basic fitness test, I wonder.  When you say "moderate activity," do you mean riding a unicycle while juggling bowling pins, applicable only to the 5 percent of God's children who are circus clowns?  Do you mean diving for pearls at the bottom of the sea, or alligator wrestling?  Did you mistakenly include "dead people" in your sample size?  Or what?

Q: If you are correct, is this not -- in a certain light -- good news?  Through the ages, men have pondered the elusive path to world peace.  Some have said it will take a fiery apocalypse; others, an alien invasion.  Yet, what if the precious thread of commonality between warring peoples is the desire to sit on their butts and say, "No, you go ahead.  My show's on, and I've got my beak in a Doritos bag"?  If so, America should take the lead by manufacturing a battalion of La-Z Boy recliners and shipping them to every global "hot spot," along with 100 crates of Fanta or whatever it is they drink in those places.  As it is written: The lion will sit down with the lamb . . . because they both just love to sit, so much.  They really, really love it.  [Cite WHO.]
Q: How can I break into the elite 5 percent of humankind's go-getters?  Perhaps the "30 minutes of moderate activity" you speak of is not a lunch walk with a pause to consume a Subway Meal Deal? If so, I'm no better than the 6 billion-odd losers from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. What's worse, my all-too-human tendency to loaf is being passed down: Lately, my six-year-old -- one of the most active people I know -- has taken to sitting in a laundry basket and binge-watching back episodes of "Parks and Recreation" . . . with her mom. I blush to think my child is picking up the low-class habits of the Inuit, the Swiss, the Bengali, the French-Canadian . . . you know, those people.

But wait: They are my people, too!  As long as I am a member of the benighted 95 percent, I'm going to raise my fist in solidarity and march through the streets with the . . . Oh, never mind.  Sounds like too much trouble.
(Image: Garden of World Peace, by Immanuel Giel (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons)


  1. nice post! ..

    Only one in three children are physically active every day.

    Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

    More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth.

    Children now spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.g., TV, videogames, computer).

    28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive.

    Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day.

    (Source: President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition)