Don't fear that chair!
A Christian Science perspective: Is sitting hazardous to your health?
Recently I saw an article in a general publication about the health dangers of sitting. While initially I found the idea funny and ironic (perhaps we should require manufacturers to put a warning label on every chair), as I thought more about the concept that sitting could be dangerous, it occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t dismiss the idea quite so quickly.
Sure, that sitting is hazardous to your health – even if you do it a lot – might seem silly. But am I accepting the opposite notion – that physical activity is good for your health?
Now, I’m by no means the proverbial couch potato, since I run, bike, and swim regularly. But what I’ve learned over decades of loving sports participation, is that, yes, this activity has health implications, but not the ones you might think of.
I’ve learned that taking the time to do the sports I love promotes health not for physiological reasons but because it’s a way of actively appreciating God’s love for me. Manifesting the energy, balance, dominion, and freedom to do something regularly that’s joyous and fun and that’s different from my work shows how much I enjoy that aspect of God’s love for me. I participate in sports not to achieve health, but to exult in health, thanking God for the goodness, well-being, and health I believe He provides everyone.
Actually, whether you’re running a marathon or sitting in front of a computer screen, what you’re thinking and what’s motivating you far outweigh what your body is doing. Asking myself these questions has helped shape my activity: How selfless is my approach to living? Am I thinking of myself as actively serving others? When I’m successful at something I do, am I recognizing God as the infinite source of all capacities? Finding the right answers to such questions and living consistently with those answers brings balance, peace, progress, and health.
The Gospels indicate that Jesus’ concept of health was higher than body shape or any physical assessment. In the Sermon on the Mount, probably his best known set of sayings, he remarks: “So don’t worry and don’t keep saying, ‘What shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear ... your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart first on his kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course” (Matthew 6:31-33, J.B. Phillips translation). To me this means that seeking to know and do what’s right, we are led to experience peace, balance, and, yes, health.
The founder of this publication certainly did a lot of sitting, much of it when she was writing her main book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” Living an extraordinarily active life after she discovered Christian Science in 1866, New Englander Mary Baker Eddy earned a living as a writer, founded a college and a church, started an award-winning international newspaper as well as other publications – all of this in a time when women were dealing with strict legal and societal limits to their actions.
Throughout Science and Health the reader finds a series of marginal notes, the first one being “Right Motives.” Elsewhere in the book the author wrote, “Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action” (p. 454).
Whatever your duty requires, whether it’s sitting hours per week or running ultra marathons, if your motive is to serve God and serve others, you can definitely do it without fear of jeopardizing your health.
So, in conclusion, don’t fear that chair!