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Chair Use Disorder

Chair use disorder…a leading cause of death??? So says this article on BBC news today.

Of course this is not really a surprise. This is why engineers at the Exxon Mobil campus in Houston have their computer terminals automatically shut down every fifty minutes. It's a fairly hard shove to get up and move.

I was fortunate to work at the Exxon Mobil fitness center and I was impressed at the intentionality behind the campus design. It was built for movement, with ample, open, beautiful stairways and walkways. A large open park was nestled in the middle of tall buildings, encouraging people to meet outside. The park was strategically placed so one might have a long scenic walk across campus to meet her colleagues.

The necessity of movement for body health is so crucial that I dedicated one of my eight Neuroplastic Principles (NP) to it:

The world we built is not the world we need. - NP 7

Unfortunately, in the effort to improve productivity at any cost, we keep reducing our movement to historically lower levels. Modern conveniences of working at home and meeting online have allowed us to achieve even more while moving less.

However, our brains crave movement that demonstrates our innate athleticism. We are uniquely designed to solve problems through movement; to judge distances and gauge effort required; to find solutions to navigate challenging terrain. We need crooked hallways, and things to climb over to reach items we need.

The world we built is requiring increasingly less engagement of brain regions for complex movement. Many believe our bodies are weaker and more prone to injury because brain areas like the hippocampus are not active enough. Self driving cars are another example of how we seem to be fleeing from our need to navigate complexity. Will new innovations help us, or contribute to a weaker, more vulnerable kind of human?

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