upping your elvis logo

Beware the chair

August 26, 2021

We’re born to hunt. To roam the savannah, tracking down our prey or foraging for food. Our survival depended on it. As such we’re beautifully designed to move.

The 360 joints in our body are there to assist us in effortless movement and, when trained, can achieve the extraordinary. Just take a look at gymnasts, ice skaters, long distance runners or tennis players to see how adaptable and capable our bodies can be. And we’ve inherited the latest model straight from the human production line: 50,000 years of evolution.

Our bodies are revved up, ready and raring to go.

The benefits of movement are so beneficial to our physiology and psychology that our brain rewards us every time we do it, by flooding our system with the feel good drug endomorphin, a natural opioid. Exercise is essential for a long and lusty life, full of energy and vibrance. Exercise is essential for helping us process and manage our feelings and emotions. Exercise is essential for our mental energy, how and what we think. Exercise is essential for you and the quality of your life. If you’re not prioritising movement as part of your everyday… you’re making a huge mistake.

A house needs to be lived in, a car needs to be driven, a battery needs to be charged…we need to move. We all sort of know this, and yet we still think it’s totally normal and OK to sit for hours and hours on end, staring at a screen. Before a global pandemic arrived, back in 2019, a wellbeing report found that we were sitting, on average for 8 hours a day. On our commute, at our desk, in meetings, on the sofa. Lockdown (1,2 and 3) sent us home to begin working remotely on the likes of Teams and Zoom and now this number has soared. Reflecting an ever growing stationary lifestyle without us even being conscious that it's happening.

The repetitive, familiar routine of the last year has slowly taken grip. Working from our spare room or kitchen-table has led to standards slipping and energy levels declining. ‘Sitting is the New Smoking’, was an article headline I read the other day. Lockdown has meant sit-down for most of us and we’re living a much more sedentary lifestyle. We usually sit down when it’s time to use our brains, the opposite is in fact true.

The longer we sit, the more agitated our minds and body becomes and it's quite literally killing us. Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, and increase the risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety. The irony of writing all this is that my wife suffered a spinal injury in January 2020, out of the blue, and is now facing a life in a wheelchair. A tough gig for a sporty, active, independent woman and mother of two young kids.

She’s stuck in a chair all day and the effects on mood, health and mindset are obvious. She’s amazing and we’ll be fine, but she gets really frustrated when she sees other people neglecting their bodies and taking their physicality for granted. It needs love. Fall in love with your body again. It’s an amazing thing and capable of so much. So my one message from this blog is simply beware the chair and become more aware of it and how much time you spend in it.

As soon as you stand, you’re immediately more actively engaged, focused and energised. Your posture improves, you get more oxygen into your lungs and therefore your brain, you process better…life is more technicolour!

So some top tips;

  1. At the very minimum, stand every 30 minutes. Have a timer to make sure you don’t forget. Get up, stretch, lunge, squat, burpee… Whatever you fancy, but an active movement to wake up your body is the key, you won’t regret it.
  2. Have walking meetings. Stanford research found that waking at your natural gate, spikes one's creativity (on average) by 60%. Escape your house, change your environment and boost your creativity…what’s not to like!
  3. Experiment with shorter standing meetings for everyone. You’ll need to raise your laptop up with some books so that it’s at head height (or get a standing desk) but engagement levels and energy will be so much better.
  4. Ceremonially burn your work chair (this is my favourite), then you’re left with no option and it’s a bit of fun!

Do it for you - your mind, body and emotional state. Do it for all the people that will benefit from the energy radiating from their zoom call, or, do it for my wife Lil.


Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash