I keep remembering something that I read in the late fall, that almost half (46%) of Canadians (2,160 surveyed by Environics Research Group in October 2011) said that they “don’t have enough time to squeeze exercise into a busy day, and that healthy meals take too long to prepare, with 31% of employed people blaming commute times.” www.heartandstroke.ca
Further in their report on their findings the HSF state that “It’s true that Canadians are facing a number of time crunches. For example, results from the 2010 Canadian General Social Survey show that a third (36%) of employed Canadians have a one-way commute time of 30 or more minutes a day. Average commute times may be highest in Canada’s six largest cities (30 minutes one way) but are lower in the suburbs (23 minutes) and towns (19 minutes). However, Statistics Canada also reports that almost a third (29%) of Canadians 20 years or older spend two or more hours a day (15 or more hours a week) watching television, with almost 16% reporting more than 20 or more hours per week. In addition, 15% of Canadians age 20 and over report spending at least 1.5 hours a day of their leisure time on their computers.” The report also notes that Canadians know that eating well and regular exercise give them a better chance of experiencing good health.
I keep thinking about the logic of the 46% who don’t have time to do either. I know that people need to work to make money to be able to live. I also know that eating well and exercising are critical to our health and therefore our ability to keep on living. I also know that our quality of life is better if we are healthy. It makes sense, we feel good and so we feel better able to do things and we generally have a better outlook on life and then the cycle continues as we get out more and more and that in turn makes us feel even better.
The part I do not understand is how we allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into the economic imperative to put work and earning money ahead of our own health. If we are letting our health suffer as we continue to participate in the economic system that is seen as supreme what will be do once we lose our health? It seems that once we lose our health it no longer matters whether we have squirreled away cash or not. So then why are we working at the expense of our health?
This draws attention to one of those fundamental flaws I wrote about a little while ago: our sole dependence on the economic system at the expense of any other consideration. I understand the dilemma of individuals who work for less than a living wage as they have to work many hours just to survive. I wonder why the rest of us are okay with that. This draws attention to our ability to make choices. Choices, for example, to continue to support governments that do not value their citizenry as much as they value businesses who continue to make record profits on the backs of these individuals. There are many other choices we can choose to make or not make in this regard.
I go back to our choice to pay attention to or to ignore our health. I think what happens is somewhat like the frog in the slowly boiling water: because the water increases in temperature gradually over time (we begin to ignore our fundamental health needs) the frog does not know he is being boiled to death (we do not notice we have developed distress, disease or disorder until we are in trouble). If we threw the frog in the boiling water he would jump out immediately, perhaps it is time for us to jump out as well.
Irene McDermott © 2012