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HELEN MEAD: Sport can be bad for your health
According to the media, this is the summer of sport.
Yet never before have I been so inactive. Not for a long time have I spent so much time on the sofa, glued to the television.
A glut of top sporting fixtures — the World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Tour de France — have sprung up at the same time, pinning viewers to armchairs across the country.
Add Formula One to the mix, with Lewis Hamilton winning at Silverstone, and sport has done more to nurture a nation of couch potatoes than any police drama or talent show.
I spent the first week of this month literally moulded to the sofa, with match after match of gripping tennis followed by the Tour de France, which admittedly I watched not for the riders but the familiar scenery.
I even spent one evening watching football: I’d spent all day watching tennis and was about to head out for an evening walk with my husband when I caught a few moments of the closely (and aggressively, it seemed to me) fought Brazil-Colombia match.
It was enough to spark my interest, and I ended up taking off my boots and watching late into the night.
The irony is not lost. The ‘summer of sport’ is supposed to motivate us to get up and go, not sit down and stagnate. But over the first weekend of this month I expended the most energy channel hopping between Wimbledon finals and the Grand Depart.
During Wimbledon I did take my daughter to play tennis, but we only managed half an hour, as I had to get back for the men’s quarter final on TV.
Usually fairly active, not for a long time have I felt so sluggish, pallid and unhealthy — not since the Olympics, in fact. Could it be that sport is damaging our health? With round-the-clock TV channels devoted to it, a growing number of people are spending their days slumped in front of rugby, football, cricket or golf.
And just so we don't have to move for the three or four hours while we are watching, we surround ourselves with snacks and drinks - usually of the greasy, fat-laden kind.
I may be wrong — one scientific study last year concluded that watching sport raises your heart rate and increases blood flow, improving fitness levels. That’s something to console yourself with as you tuck into a curry while watching world series darts, although I’m veering towards massively sceptical.
I’ve got a two-week window before the Commonwealth Games starts in Glasgow. I’d like to get out my running shoes and make up for all those hours lost to the telly. But too-much TV also means neglecting the housework, so real sport will again have to wait.