The BBC has a series of infographics illustrating the costs and benefits of everyday life choices, based on information provided by a Cambridge statistician who reviewed several studies. Watching TV for two hours a day (or, presumably, the time spent in front of a computer screen) shaves 15 minutes off of your lifespan. But 20 minutes of exercise puts an hour back, meaning that I’m coming out ahead in spite of my many sedentary hours each day.
Personally, I’m desensitized to reading headlines screaming about how my lifestyle choices will send me to an early grave. I can’t stop sitting down in front of a screen, I won’t stop eating meat (even as I mostly eat a plant-based diet), and I won’t trade running for an exercise that’s easier on the heart. Most of us don’t need studies to tell us that drinking to excess or smoking is bad for your health. We’re going to make these choices regardless, if we’re so inclined.
I also think it may be too facile to make blanket statements like “2-3 cups of coffee each day might boost your life by one year.” A genetic variant, PDSS2, may change the way the body processes caffeine. Those with the gene variant have a reduced ability to break caffeine down and it stays in the body longer, meaning that they require fewer cups of coffee to get the same hit of caffeine. And we all have heard stories about people who lead “unhealthy” lifestyles but live past 100 with none of the threatened diseases, or people who do everything right but collapse at 50.
Headlines might scream about risks, but scientific evidence can’t yet accurately predict personal consequences for our daily choices.
Now for some cozy things I liked today:
Cooking video of the day: How to Make Okonomoyaki
Long read of the day: The creator of the Super Soaker on his career and life, from kid using scrap metal to build robots to NASA engineer to ceramic battery maker. Really fascinating.
Sweet pup of the day: