If you haven’t figured this out by now, then you really need to listen up. Turns out that sitting at your desk all day is not only slowly killing you, it’s also making you dumber. I know it may seem like a bit of a stretch, but it’s true. So before reading on, stand up and stretch you’ll thank me later.
According to a recent New York Times article, scientists discovered that when we sit all day, “electrical activity in the muscles drops…leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects.” But that’s not even the worst of it. According to the New York Times, it might also be making you dumber. Yes, you read that right. Sitting at your desk is making you dumber.
German scientist, Sabine Schaefer of the Max Plank Institute for Human Development , recently looked into the effect of walking on people’s memory. Schaefer conducted a study comparing the brain memory of both children and adults when they are sitting versus when they are walking. The British Psychological Society Research Digest sums up her results:
The headline finding was that the working memory performance of both age groups improved when walking at their chosen speed compared with when sitting or walking at a fixed speed set by the researchers. This was especially the case for more difficult versions of the working memory task, and was more pronounced among the children than the adults. So, this would appear to be clear case of mental performance actually being superior in a dual-task situation.
What this means is that your mom was wrong. Turns out that walking and chewing gum actually increases your mental ability rather than the conventional belief that it splits your mental resources, leaving less to devote to each. Schaefer’s research showed that walking actually increases your resources of energy, which you can then invest in thinking. This research reinforces anecdotal evidence that being chained to your desk is not only bad for you physical health, but also poor for your mind. “Science shows we often have creative breakthroughs when are minds are disengaged from the problem we’re wrestling with, hence the common experience of getting great ideas while relaxing in the shower.”
So try and get up and move around each day. Even as little as five minutes outside in nature can improve your mood and self-esteem. Your employees will be happier, healthier and more productive. Who wouldn’t want that?