By Nate Odenkirk | STAFF WRITER
Science has suggested, from time to time, that exercise is the lock and the key to unLOCKING the SECRET to good health. But there’s a worrying pair of trends that, together, have discouraged, even outlawed, well-meaning Americans from getting off the couch. Over the last three years, I have been stealing lifeguard “O” rings at public pools for an entirely separate home experiment. While I’m there, I make sure to also note how many “WALK, DON’T RUN” signs posted around the public natatorium. These pesky signs, I’m told, are put up to discourage poolgoers from running, which carries a heightened risk of slippage along the perimeter of the pool from the water lubrication. It’s a worthy cause, to be sure. Science has shown that veterans, and everyone else, slip when running around the pool at far higher rates than on wet grass, the next most-dangerous surface. There are plenty of great reasons to run around the pool. Perhaps the muffin man is peddling his baked goods, and you wish to get his attention first. Maybe the lifeguards are chasing you, as you just stole their very last “O” ring.
There are plenty of great reasons to run around the pool.
My observations have led me to conclude that the prevalence of these “WALK, DON’T RUN” signs around my public pool has increased approximately 9,000% in the last two months. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder America is getting fatter. A sign actively discouraging exercise—at a place where many come to engage in a physical activity—surely sends the wrong signal.
The other issue is also quite serious. With the economy as good as it is (very good), the number of “deals” on stuff I want has decreased. By listening my favorite radio station, a lot, I’ve used science to determine another very chilling statistic. The number of radio ads featuring products I want, where the voiceover instructs me to “DON’T WALK, RUN!” to their store has decreased substantially. Both of these trends mean that Americans aren’t excited to run and buy deals on really cool stuff and are forced to walk at the pool when they would otherwise run. This, I believe, is the core of our obesity problem.
So, what can be done?
Sure. I think we can tackle obesity with a one-pronged (“stick”) approach. I propose that, starting tomorrow, all the big box stores slash the prices on nonslip safety pool mats by 90%. That way, Americans will have no choice but to run to the stores, as the prices would be so low. And then, once they’ve been purchased, the sprint turns into a marathon when the public discovers they can then use the pool mats to protect themselves from slippage at their local pool. And, I can buy something I really want for my home for really cheap. It’s a win win win! This is the mature, realistic way to fix, once and for all, America’s weight problem. Not saying I deserve anything for my breakthrough, but I do prefer Ghirardelli gift cards to Edible Arrangements (it’s just fruit). ♦