I know it’s a question you’ve been dying to ask and the answer is yes, I’m absolutely of the opinion that we take Santa for granted.
Once a year, every year, he takes on an unachievable task, compressing his unwieldy frame into chimneys and delivering presents to households across the world.
He’s not like the rest of us, that much is certain.
But what if he were? How would a regular person fare, trying to do his job and leading his lifestyle?
In the last of our Christmas articles we thought we’d take a look at the illnesses which might befall someone trying to cope with Santa’s superhuman workload; and the adjustments they might have to make to their lifestyle and work schedule to live healthily.
Sightings of Santa are scant and seldom reliable. But, judging by the artistry on the majority of his marketing collateral, I’d wager that his BMI is firmly in the 30+ range, meaning that he would join 25 percent of Britons in being obese. This is perhaps one consequence of taking the reindeer to work instead of walking.
For the rest of us, being obese would present a range of health issues, including reduced organ function, joint and muscle pain, as well as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
So anyone doing Santa’s job would certainly have to cut down on their calorie intake and spend more time in the gym. The NHS recommends two and a half hours of light cardiovascular exercise, spread over the course of each week, such as fast-walking, swimming or step-training.
A good idea for someone of Santa’s build would be to start small, perhaps doing 20 minutes a day, and gradually increase their workout time and intensity over a period of time. Santa’s GP would be able to assist in organising a programme which could help him achieve weight loss at a healthy rate.
High Blood Pressure
Otherwise known as hypertension, this is a condition which results in the heart beating with more force than is usual, and causes the arteries to strain offering resistance to match.
It can often be a consequence of obesity. It is also more likely to occur the older a person gets, the higher the salt content of their diet, and the more alcohol they consume. Often, it doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms; but it is a major factor in the development of heart disease.
We all know Santa likes a tipple and a mince pie. Multiply this by every house in the world, and yes, that’s enough alcohol and salt to provide anyone who isn’t Santa with a rather bleak hypertensive outlook.
A regular person attempting to do Santa’s job would do well to adhere to the advice Michel Roux Jr offered us a couple of weeks ago: all in moderation. That may mean limiting the mince pie consumption to no more than two or three over the course of Christmas Day, and staying within the recommended guidelines of three to four units of alcohol in any one given day too (with at the very least two alcohol free days per week).
He may fly in the face of cardiovascular illness, but Santa does at least set a more responsible example when it comes to preventing frostbite; by wrapping up warm when going about his work in less than temperate conditions.
Characterised by frozen tissue, frostbite most commonly occurs in the fingers and toes, as these tend to be susceptible due to exposure. Frostbite can occur in other areas of the body too, however, with symptoms including pins and needles, discoloration and pain. The condition can in severe cases lead to long-term damage.
In addition to wearing gloves and the appropriate clothing, frostbite can be prevented by changing out of wet clothes as soon as possible, and taking care not to stay out in the cold for too long.
Occupationally-Induced Sleep Deprivation
Inevitably, cramming a year’s work into one night means that someone doing Santa’s job is going to have to catch up on their sleep afterwards.
Going without sleep can lead to impaired cognitive function, a weakened immune system and a range of other health conditions; so it’s important, no matter what your workload, to stick to the NHS recommended 6-8 hours a night.
If your pattern of work is making this difficult, discuss your working hours with your employer to see what adjustments can be made.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Plying his trade mostly in the dark of night, Santa perhaps doesn’t get as much access to vitamin D as is required. For the rest of us though, vitamin D a crucial nutrient, important for healthy bone and tissue function. Those who are deficient in vitamin D may become susceptible to cardiovascular illness and various other conditions.
This shortfall in vitamin D from natural light would need to be compensated for in other areas, such as in Santa’s diet. Oily fish such as sardines and salmon, dark leafy vegetables and milk, are great sources of vitamin D. Those who are struggling to get enough can also find help in the form of supplements such as Fultium.
Give Your Santa a Well-Deserved Rest
The period leading up to Christmas morning isn’t just a busy one for Santa himself; at this time of year, we all take on his mantle to an extent, rushing around to make the day itself a special one for our friends and family.
Many of us will know that the pressure of preparation can put the body and mind through a considerable amount of strain, so it’s important to give yourself a rest after all the hard work is over with.
However busy you’ve been or however many people you’ve had to ‘be’ Santa for, once you’ve got your tasks out of the way this Christmas, remember to relax and enjoy it.