Too Much Seat Time?

Sep 1, 2012   //   Academics, Blog, Health, Research

by Kathryn Wage

I recently read an article in Inc. online magazine titled “Your Desk is Making You Stupid”. That title caught my attention since I do spend more time than I want to at my desk on some days and maybe you do too. The article by Jessica Stillman is based on an article from the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest that found working memory performance for children and adults improved when participants walked at their chosen speed while performing memory tasks. So rather than the common belief that dual tasking takes brain power away from mental ability, the results show the opposite, walking while performing mental tasks improves your memory.

Walking at your chosen speed increases your energy resources. More energy leads to better thinking and remembering. The importance of choosing your own speed is interesting because we naturally have a cadence or rhythm that our body responds to best. A speed that is determined by someone else or a treadmill may not be the “ideal” speed for your particular level of activation.

For children it may be that one of the most damaging things we do in school is make them sit at a desk all day, not move around, and work hard at remembering new information. Now that school is back in session you may want to pay attention to how much “seat time” your child has during the school day. For many children having more time outdoors running and playing may make a critical difference in academic success.

For adults the harm of sitting all day is well documented in health journals. We know we get fatter, but now there is also evidence that we get dumber. Ouch! Double whammy. To begin to address this concern you may want to explain the “seat time” problem to your loved ones and ask them to track the amount of “seat time” each has during a week day versus a typical weekend. A little friendly competition might enliven things after you establish a baseline. Some families may even want to chart the amount of “seat time” and reward the substitution of walking and learning with something special. The results might be startling and would certainly call attention to the need for being up and moving, especially when thinking and trying to learn new things.

The California Learning Connection provides therapy and academic support in an environment that is sensitive to the needs of each learner. Movement and learning go hand in hand.

Center For Communication Skills, Speech & Language Pathologists, Fresno, CA