Walking home from work tonight, with the temperature plummeting rapidly and already down below 10 degrees, I saw one of the people at the outdoor bus stop in front of the Ohio Statehouse smoking a cigarette. And I thought: “Really? Smoking in these ridiculous temperatures?”
Kish makes fun of me, because as a long reformed ex-smoker — I puffed my last cigarette more than 25 years ago and am forever happy that I quit when I did — I’m always quick to wonder aloud how anyone can smoke, period, even though I smoked off and on for a number of years. In that regard, I’m like the one-time sinner turned into a holier-than-thou convert. But if smoking under normal conditions seems crazy, given its abundantly documented health risks, smoking a cigarette outside in these temperatures seems especially insane. In fact, there is some evidence that smoking outside during freezing temperatures is even worse for you than smoking is generally.
In Columbus, you can’t smoke in most buildings as a matter of law, so at our firm, and in other businesses, the few remaining smokers have to go outside to indulge in their habit. You’d think that, as the mercury plunges into bitterly cold territory, the smokers would decide to refrain from going outside into the deep freeze and maybe even consider quitting altogether. But when you pass the smoking area outside, behind our building, there’s always a few people puffing away, even on a day like today. They look terribly cold, and act like they feel terribly cold, but they’re out there smoking, anyway. It’s a pretty good indication of how addictive smoking is for some people — and a pretty good advertisement for why you shouldn’t start smoking in the first place.
Life Time Fitness, which operates 128 fitness facilities in the United States and Canada, has eliminated cable news channels from the big TV screens that are available for viewing by members who are working out. The treadmill set at Life Time Fitness won’t be able to watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or CNBC any more. Instead, USA, A&E, ESPN, Discovery, HGTV, and local stations will be featured on the bigger screens.
Life Time Fitness explained that the elimination of cable news channels is due to its “commitment to provide family oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content” and a “healthy way of life philosophy.” The change is also the result of feedback from members, who said they felt “stressed” during their workouts when watching cable news programming. One member wrote to Life Time that the gym “is no place for constant negativity like the news chains love to surround themselves with.”
Studies have shown that the viewing of TV news can affect a person’s mental state and mood — no surprise there, really — and one study reported that people who watched just three minutes of negative news in the morning were 27 percent more likely to say their day was unhappy when surveyed six to eight hours later than a group that watched more uplifting TV content. If you’re a fitness facility, why show programming that is more likely to cause people to conclude that days begun at the gym are unhappy ones?
I can understand why a fitness center might decide that featuring cable news really isn’t well-suited for workouts for other reasons, too. How can you reasonably expect to maintain focus and a positive attitude about what you’re doing on the elliptical machines if you’re being bombarded with news stories about the latest dysfunctional activities in Washington, D.C.? And having your blood pressure spike during a choleric reaction to disturbing news reports about President Trump’s Twitter feed is likely to be inconsistent with the pre-planned heartbeat increase and calorie burn built into that hill program on the exercise bike or treadmill. Programs about home remodeling, in contrast, are bound to produce a better workout milieu.
Now, if we can just get airports to get rid of cable news channels on the monitors found in every gate area. We don’t need to add to the stress when we’re waiting on delayed flights, either.