We are not designed to sit down all day.
Imagine a lion in the wild chasing after a wildebeest, or a monkey swinging in the trees. Or a bear plodding miles through the forest. They’re pretty content doing their own thing. Then some lab scientists tired of experimenting on lab rats decided to up their game.
‘I know’, they say, ‘lets try chaining that lion or that monkey or even a polar bear to a desk for 8 hours and see how it responds. It could be a test to see if modern life makes us weak. We can study the effects of civilised living on animals’. ‘Good idea’ the other lab scientists agree.
So they grab some animals from the wild and chain them up at desks in front of computers, or tie them to the steering wheels of HGVs or to the check-outs in supermarkets. They even go a bit further and force them to travel an hour in a crowded train or sit in a car twice a day…
No doubt at first, they would go all go mad, rebel and try to escape. So then the scientists would have to tranquillize them. Perhaps give them lots of heavy sugary carbohydrate oily based food – cakes, biscuits to keep the animals happy and slow them down a bit. Though, they’d have to feed them quite a lot of that kind of food. Maybe they’d make them watch lots of bright images on TV screens during their rest periods showing lots of nubile young healthy looking animals in the wild.
And so a few weeks later, after the initial transition period, The animals would gradually adapt and get used to their captivity just like animals do in the zoo.
And then in a years time, the scientists would take some bloods and do some muscle testing. What will be the result?
I’d put my money on them being weaker. They’d have less muscle mass, less flexibility. More body fat, possibly even the odd chronic disease or beginnings of one. I’m pretty sure they be depressed as well and the zest for living would be diminished.
A few years ago, I went to a zoo in Yokohama in Japan. Japanese zoos are pleasant experiences, but one sight was a bit disturbing. There was a polar bear in the sealed off water area. It stood on all fours shaking his head in a set pattern from left to right. Then it would take four steps forward, shake its head some more, then take four steps backward, shake its head and then repeat again and again.
One of the other visitors exclaimed to his girlfriend, ‘that bear must be mentally sick’. I agreed. It was quite a disturbing sight and put me off zoos.
What this teaches us about health
Our bodies are designed to move, not to sit down or stand in one place for 8 hours a day. It’s normal to feel great and refreshed after a day of physical activity – skiing, gardening, swimming, surfing, running, going to the gym. Conversely, it’s quite unnatural to keep our bodies in a constrained fixed pose as well as for our bodies or our minds. There’s too much yin and not enough yang.
But we must pay bills, most work is like this these days. I agree. The antidote is to balance the yin with the yang. Exercise in your spare time, walk to work, go to the gym on weekends or exercise at home if you have family commitments. Avoid the carb treats at work. Cake is just adding more yin to yin. It’s no good. Treat yourself occasionally and get up and walk around when you can. Talk to others, keep the energy flowing.
When I found myself working a desk bound job, after some time, I felt this urge to get up and move around, find a reason to visit another area or speak to someone new. It kept me mentally active. It also kept me slim. If I didn’t do it, I would suffer a kind of mental fatigue particularly at the end of the day, which made me crave or binge on sugary food or junk and really want to drink a beer.
So we are living and working in unusually unnatural ways compared to our ancestors. Our world gives us many benefits which I am grateful for, though it does weaken us in other ways. So in order to counter these negative effects, first be aware that we are physical beings and that we have to balance these periods of yin inactivity with some form of yang activity.
This blog post, now on YouTube
This blog post has been converted into a YouTube video on The Genki Health Channel. Watch below:
- A Good Sweat: Physical Activity and a Long Life
- Walking after a Meal and Gestational Diabetes
- 30 Day Trial of Spontaneous Qi Practice