The U.S. Surgeon General recently came out with advice for all Americans — man, woman, child and canine. He said it was a “call to action” to save this great land of ours from veritable collapse and degeneration into couch potato-ism, which is a serious condition that ranks right up there with the obesity epidemic and ring around the collar. His solution: Start walking!
You probably remember those historic reports in which the Surgeon General put the fear of God in us about the perils of smoking and many other things we enjoyed doing. As America’s Doctor-in-Chief, his responsibility is to keep the country on the straight and narrow so we can continue breathing, if for no other reason than to control rising healthcare costs. Otherwise, there will be no one left to pay taxes or pay his salary.
“I firmly believe that everybody in America needs a safe place to walk or to wheelchair roll,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “For too many of our communities, that is not the reality right now.”
His call to action comes at a time when only half of all adult Americans and slightly more than a quarter of high school students are getting enough physical activity for good health. Adults should have at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity a week, while kids need 60 minutes a day.
It’s clear we have to change our ways, or we’re doomed to an early demise. To stop this pandemic of loafing, every American needs to start walking — not texting. That means get off your duffs and put one foot in front of the other. Leave your work stations, wander over to the water cooler, circle it several times, and go out for a smoke — well, maybe you better forget the smoke. Then, sprint to the cafeteria for a Coke — well, maybe you better forget the Coke, too. And while you’re walking, make sure you’re not walking to Popeye’s because all that fast food is expanding our Made-in-the-U.S.A. waistlines.
Many Americans were stunned when Surgeon General Murthy said we had to get the lead out. They thought they were already hitting their target heart rate by playing video games and shopping.
The responses were predictable:
“Don’t I have a constitutionally guaranteed right to loaf? Who does this guy think he is?”
“You mean I have to get off the couch? Can I take my remote with me?”
“Who wants to walk when we have taxi service?”
Let’s be honest. We may be the wealthiest nation in the world but we’re not the healthiest. And we’re probably world leaders when it comes to fast-food consumption and TV viewing. Our national pastimes primarily consist of text-messaging, complaining, watching “Game of Thrones” and beer guzzling, which collectively burn approximately eight calories an hour. Plus, beer guzzling adds an estimated 900 calories for every six-pack you drink, which means to say you’re headed in the wrong direction.
How did we end up in this pathetic state? We need inspiration and motivation to turn America around, and if Donald Trump gets elected, he promises to deal with this crisis by naming Jillian Michaels as Secretary of Sweating with the assignment of resuscitating the nation. And for a small surtax, she’ll enroll you in the Jillian Michaels’ academy for tummy tightening, and send you, for free, her collection of videocassettes.
During this physical fitness crisis, we can find a power of example in America’s great leaders. Were they sedentary? No way. Think of Teddy Roosevelt rough riding up San Juan Hill. Think of Ronald Reagan in Knute Rockne, All American. Think of Bill Clinton jogging vigorously to McDonald’s.
Walking is the solution to what Jimmy Carter once called “the national malaise.” It will solve the obesity epidemic. It will stimulate the economy and lower unemployment. It will keep the presidential candidates on the road where they belong and off the TV. It will raise the minimum wage and solve income inequality. It will crack the glass ceiling and remedy the achievement gap. It will end the student debt crisis and guarantee Taylor Swift another Grammy.
There are many things walking will do for this great country, but only if each and every American commits to a few steps a day. All together now, one foot in front of the other. Right, left. Right, left. You remember how to walk, don’t you?
Contact Joe Pisani at joefpisani [at] yahoo.com.