Comic-Con and the challenges of a sedentary lifestyle

Last weekend 140,000 enthusiasts of comic books and comic-inspired films, sci fi and horror films, and especially video games, converged with glee all together at the immense San Diego Convention Center in beautiful downtown San Diego, California – one of the few convention centers in the U.S. that could accomodate such a crowd – to attend the 40th annual Comic-Con convention.  They will do it all again next year, and have at least the same magnitude of crowd if not more.  We could all find something to love there:  video games galore, upcoming blockbuster movie trailers, guest speaker panels and autograph sessions galore, costumed characters, an ocean of people who are REALLY INTO IT IN A BIG WAY, the list could go on and on; all of it quite good in my opinion – this stuff is fun!

In the midst of all this mostly great entertainment, there’s a common denominator present: with the possible exception of the GREAT (sports) Wii video game, all these entertainments involve a sedentary style of engagement/consumption.  First our national health watchers were campaigning for reduced television hours for kids especially (but also adults of course), then it came….the internet….and with it a new advent and amazing progression of video games, which these days are wildly entertaining.

So, previously due to TV, if we had a challenge as a society to attend to the health of kids, and ourselves as grown-ups, to counterbalance an overly-sedentary lifestyle with physical activity, now the challenge is taken to a whole new level with TV combined now with the entertainments of the New Media.

Science is providing a lot of good information that supports the idea that striving for a balanced, healthy lifestyle that involves diet and exercise is always important, but especially so when we spend a lot of time in a sedentary mode at work and/or in the choice of our entertainments.  Mom and Dad were right.  On July 23rd a health study came out that talked about how innactivity can also lead to sleep difficulties in children in addition to weight issues that we’re already well aware of.  This is not a big shocker, but its nice to see common observations and parental wisdom verified by solid science. 

The report was published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, and reported the same day on Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20090723/hl_hsn/sedentarykidsmaytakelongertofallasleep)

Here’s a snippet of the Yahoo article:

“I believe that, in an environment that can offer technological toxicity to our children in the form of increased inactivity, this study reminds parents and clinicians alike of the importance of childhood exercise,” said Dr. Robert Vorona, an assistant professor of sleep medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.  More and more data associates insufficient sleep not only with neuro-cognitive consequences but also with such conditions as hypertension, diabetes and obesity, Vorona said.  “This article demonstrates an association between increased levels of activity and a shorter time to sleep onset as well as the converse,” he said. “The information is potentially important, and I do not find the association between activity and sleep latency surprising.”

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