Insights and Inspiration for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful You


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For a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful You

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Sitting around? Blame the Stone Age

by Melvin Durai
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Oongah the caveman was the first to design furniture. But even he would have endorsed modern researchers’ sane advice, “Twenty-five minutes of sitting for every five minutes of walking!”  

Millions of years ago, a caveman named Oongah stumbled upon a large rock with a flat upper surface. Exhausted from hunting, he decided to take a break on the rock. “Feel good,” he thought. After a few minutes of sitting in the hot sun, he had another thought: “Feel even better in cave.” 

Oongah was a strong man, but he could barely lift the rock off the ground. He enlisted the help of his friend, Dongah, but the two of them were able to move the rock only a few feet before Dongah dropped it and walked away in a huff. Didn’t life pose enough challenges without having to lift rocks for no reason? 

But when Dongah dropped the rock, it rolled on its side and Oongah had a brainstorm. The rock was heavy but it could be rolled slowly without much effort. It took him just an hour to roll the rock into his cave, but twice as long to convince his wife that it was worth keeping. She liked the space in the cave and didn’t want a big rock in the middle of it. If sitting on the ground was good enough for their ancestors, it was good enough for them. 

Within a week, Oongah had made improvements to his new sitting arrangement. He rolled the rock against a wall, so he had a backrest. And he rolled another rock in front of it, so he could put his legs up. “Feel like paradise,” he thought. 

His friends were impressed. They took turns sitting on the rock and putting their legs up. They realized what they had been missing in their own caves and felt envious of Oongah.  

A caveman named Mongah offered Oongah some berries, while pointing at himself and the rock. Oongah understood what Mongah wanted. He found a couple of rocks, hit them with a stone to give them a better shape, and rolled them into Mongah’s cave. And just like that, the first furniture moving business was born. 

Mongah was delighted. He gave Oongah a positive review through a yelp that was heard far and wide. Other cavemen came to see what the fuss was about, and soon Oongah was rolling rocks into dozens more caves. He was recognized everywhere, gaining acclaim as the world’s first rock star. 

But some of the elders, including Oongah’s parents, were not happy about his rock and roll career. An uncle named Hongah was particularly upset. He did not understand why Oongah would choose to do this. While Hongah wasn’t strong enough to roll rocks like Oongah, he got no satisfaction from rolling stones. He also did not believe that cavemen should be sitting on rocks. 

A sedentary lifestyle might lead to all kinds of problems, he thought. Foremost among them was starvation. The more you sat, the less you hunted and gathered. But Oongah and other young folk ignored his objection. As if to spite him, Hongah’s own son got himself five rocks, two serving as leg rests and another two as arm rests. His friends were amazed, thinking to themselves, he’s got some rocks to stand up to his old man. 

But it wasn’t long before Hongah felt vindicated in his beliefs. Two cavemen complained about back pain and two others complained about butt pain. Another caveman hurt his head falling off a rock. The word spread around the land, and demand for Oongah’s services hit rock bottom. 

Desperate to keep his business going, Oongah hired a handsome caveman named Bongah to sit on a rock near a watering hole while smiling and flexing his muscles. Through Bongah’s endorsement, Oongah was able to convince his fellow cavemen that it was good for them to break up long periods of walking with a little sitting. 

Oongah would have been pleased to know that millions of years later, in the 21st century, scientists were convincing people that it was good for them to break up long periods of sitting with a little walking. 

Just five minutes of walking for every 25 minutes of sitting can significantly reduce blood sugar and blood pressure, researchers at Columbia University in New York discovered. 

If Oongah had heard about the study, he’d be full of praise for the researchers. “Twenty-five minutes of sitting for every five minutes of walking!” he’d exclaim to his fellow cavemen. “This research is rock-solid.” 

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