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My gran made a sport of wringing out clothes.

Byline: Jackie Bird

Are you sitting comfortably? Well, you shouldn't be. Get off your backside and do some exercise.

That was the warning last week after it was claimed inactivity is just as dangerous as smoking. We were also told that in terms of the global league table of lazy developed countries, Britain is near the top, and not in a good way.

The thinking now is to turn the whole health message on its head. Experts believe that rather than trumpeting the benefits of exercise, from now on public health campaigns should warn us of the dangers of not breaking into a trot every now and then.

Perhaps they'll follow the same route as the increasingly dire warnings on packets of ciggies. In future taking delivery of your new three-piece suite could mean you have to sign a disclaimer: "If you sign this, Mrs McGlinchy, it means you're aware that sitting on your couch for more than 40 minutes at a time can lead to your arteries hardening and the onset of type 2 diabetes. Now have a nice day."

I can see a whole new role for my colleagues in TV continuity. Shopping with meant speed of four "Coming next on BBC1 Scotland, the classic movie, Gone with the Wind. After that lard ass, there had better be a run round the block before Cash in the Attic."

Even the Washington Post newspaper has a feature this week on fat Britons. How's that for the porky pot calling the kettle black? The paper admits that America is the heavyweight champion of the world but then gleefully predicts that we are catching up.

When I was young I'd watch my gran heaving the handle on the clothes wringer till the sweat ran down her face. Shopping with her meant a speed walk of four miles. As I write this it's mid-morning and my 17-year-old son is still in his kip.

Maybe the only thing that's going to save us from an early grave is a far tougher health campaign that scares the bejesus out of us. I have worn a seatbelt ever since Jimmy Savile's graphic telly adverts in the 70s showed lacerated faces of people who had gone through car windscreens. The horrific images were imprinted on my young mind.

Half a century ago there was only a casual link between smoking and cancer and death. As we realised the true picture, the warnings became harder-hitting and their impact increased.

Half a century ago cars and labour-saving devices were only for the few. It would be naive to suggest we give up our mod cons and go back to the hardships of days of old. But we should be aware our lives of comparative leisure come at a cost.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 22, 2012
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