Courtesy of a medical situation in Delhi I have spent the past few days with some very patient and dedicated doctors, most of them ex-army but with a great deal of ‘bedside manner’ (a commodity in short supply) and not dedicated to padding the bill but actually getting the patient well and out.

And we are talking in the ICU which is like a being marooned in the middle of the River Styx and has mix of Lysol and frailty and this specialist says to me as we discuss sport:

You know when I was a young doctor I had a commanding officer and he used to say look at the world around us. Take the tortoise, who trudges along at the slowest speed of all, if he trudges at all. He lives to be a hundred. Take the elephant, who trundles along most of his life and occasional makes a lazy, leisurely move. He passes the century mark. Take the parrot which flies in spurts but never migrates or travels across some tundra. Hits 75 and still going.

Now, take your big cats. The lion and the tiger and the cheetah, your thoroughbreds and your greyhounds and all your galloping deer and you get fifteen years tops. Mostly less.

So, should we exercise?

Is exercise all that it is cracked up to be?

Are there only so many calories allotted per person and if you burn them up what then?

They are doctors and I want to come up with a glib answer or thwart this story by saying the evidence suggests otherwise.

Then he says, take the crocodile, he does nothing but sun himself, hardly ever moving. Goes well into his eighties and he doesn’t even chew his food.

Go figure. 



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