Long hours spent sitting at your desk is bad for your health, but you probably knew that already. What you probably don’t know is that long hours spent sitting at your desk, far from proving you’re a hard-working employee who gets results and deserves a promotion, are actually hindering your ability to work to your full potential.
For a long time it was assumed that our brains grew during childhood, and at maturity stopped developing. That the mature brain, with its finite complement of cells, stayed static until its inevitable decline in old age.
Neuroscientific research has recently found that this notion is inaccurate. Our brains continue to develop new cells throughout our lives, a process called neuroplasticity. This brain development can be boosted via training, and by lifestyle inputs such as nutrition and exercise.
What business needs to know is that cardiovascular exercise – (treadmills in the boardroom, anyone?) – such as walking around the office a few times a day, or keeping everyone on their feet for short meetings – can produce significant improvements in the brain’s ability to deliver the sort of functions that are vital for business efficiency.
Unfortunately, eight hours spent sitting at your desk followed by a really vigorous workout in the gym doesn’t deliver the benefits that trigger useful brain development. Activity and exercise need to be embedded into the normal business day.
Why not consider the following options:
· Encourage employees to use standing desks, preferably those that can be raised and lowered at will (because standing all day is almost as bad for your health as sitting all day)
· Hold short meetings in breakout areas without chairs
· For long meetings, re-arrange the geography of the room to encourage speakers to stand, and listeners to stand or pace, instead of everybody being slumped around a central table
· Break up back-to-back meetings by booking them into meeting rooms that are situated on different floors
· Having a 1:1 meeting? Head outside and walk around the block as you talk. The brain is far more active when you’re walking than when you’re sitting.