Media Scare Tactics About Heart Disease

Media Scare Tactics About Heart Disease – Constant fear mongering by media regarding health issues can’t be good for our stress levels.

Media Scare Tactics

I was reading this report written by Amanda Chan at My Health News Daily (link goes to MSNBC’s website) about how exercise doesn’t help serious couch potatoes. I’m not amazed by the finding and I’m not altogether dismissing their evidence. I do, however, despise the fear-mongering headline (I’m not sure if it was written by Chan or MSNBC). It’s not just this article, it’s most of them. “If you don’t drink 15 glasses of water per day”, “Wine with dinner is bad, no wait! it’s good for you”, etc etc.

Heart disease is a serious issue. The MSNBC article isn’t the only one I’ll go after. I’m not a hypochondriac but dislike the media trying to make me one. Ever watch an episode of The Doctors or The Dr. Oz Show? Good Lord! Sometimes I’ll watch an episode of one of those shows and suddenly feel the urge to take a bath in Purell and addend my last will and testament. I don’t mind hearing about health-issues everyone should know about but I think suggestions for improving health should be mandatory. At least Dr. Oz and The Doctors are adept trying to help. The MSNBC article is just fear-mongering, media scare tactics, nonsense.

The crux of the article behind the the scare-tactics MSNBC headline (I’m paraphrasing a bit) is that it doesn’t matter how much (or even if) you exercise, you’re at two times the risk of serious heart disease if, aside from the exercise, you have a sedentary-style remainder of the day. The article implies that those of us who work behind a computer, at a cubicle, or sit still for any reasonable amount of time (4 hrs per day) – are 48% more likely to die from “any cause” and 125% more likely to suffer from heart problems. The group targeted for the study (more than four hours sitting behind a computer or TV) was compared to a people who spend fewer than two hours behind a computer monitor or in a cubicle. Most people’s days consist of 16 wake hours. If only 2 or fewer hours should be spent sitting still, filling the remaining 14+ hours with movement seems unrealistic.

OK. Fine. Sitting on your butt eating donuts and watching TV all day is bad. Not the most original finding, but I get it. But, according to the article, it’s not just lumping TV addicts in the unhealthy mix. It’s throwing in anyone that works at a desk, in an office, behind a computer or in a cubicle. That’s about 80% of every working adult I know. I’m being extremely conservative with that number.

The part that steams me is that the researchers say that exercise “didn’t seem to neutralize” the effects of heart disease. So, basically their headline is “Don’t Bother Exercising, You’ll Have a Heart Attack Anyway.” As it is, it’s pretty close. Excuse me? What kind of exercise did you study in these patients? Are they trying to tell me that a half-hour morning run before the office won’t help? Even a little?

It pains me the most that the article is painfully short on help to combat this killer of laptop users. There is a mini-paragraph (more like a tweet) that suggests how “using the bathroom on the other side of the office” can help add some movement to our routines. Gee! Thanks! Don’t just throw out media scare tactics articles at us. Give us real solutions! Does the media really need to preach to an overweight American populace that exercise “doesn’t help”? Now who is being irresponsible?

Aside from urinating in a bathroom on the other side of the office, what choices are left for people who work at an office or behind a computer for an 8 hour work day? Should we all quit our jobs and become walking mailmen? I can see my husband saying “yeah, the economy is horrible but I gotta chuck my desk job and change my career to farmer.” I’m not behind a laptop playing Tetris, it’s my living! I’d like to think I don’t have to become a hang-gliding instructor to maintain some physical health. I’d also like to think that brisk walks, treadmills and eating well will help me in my effort to combat “screen time” and live a healthy life. I like to feel good about taking a walk during my lunch hour or fitting in a half hour at the gym each morning before work. According to Amanda Chan at Health News Daily or the headline writers at MSNBC, I shouldn’t even bother.

Don’t give me media scare tactics, give me solutions.

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