July 11, 2010

Swapping Desk Chairs for Treadmills

I’m glad I haven’t figured out how to use the camera feature on this computer, because, boy, you wouldn’t want to see me. I still haven’t showered today. But I have a good reason.

I went to the gym and plopped straight down at my desk.

The desk part isn’t the good reason. It’s the gym.

An hour a day, each and every day, whether I want to or not. I’ve redoubled the pledge I made earlier this fall to get myself moving. After listening to John Ratey, M.D., speak Wednesday night, I knew I had to stick to my resolve.

If you don’t know of John Ratey, go to his blog. Ratey co-wrote the best-selling book about ADD, Driven to Distraction, with Ned Hallowell in 1994. He’s gone off on his own this time, focusing on the importance of exercise in brain function. He’s especially interested in what happens when kids exercise in particular ways and has developed a program, SPARK, that he’s helping schools implement.

Dr. Ratey used a PowerPoint presentation during his talk. I can’t get one slide out of my head. It’s a sketch of the workstation of the future. Forget the desk and chair. Instead, put the computer on a platform attached to the front end of treadmill. Have workers walk slowly throughout their day as they attend to business. A real office installed these, and its workers’ productivity skyrocketed. Walkers/workers lost 35 pounds over the course of a year, as well. Dr. Ratey argues that we need to move to produce all the neurotransmitters that make us smart, focused, and content.

How to make sure my own kids get this much exercise a day? Max’s soccer season ended Wednesday. Lily stops bicycling next week. Sam’s playing tennis on Sundays, but I think he’s only lifting weights twice a week. Mark bikes to work every day, so he’s definitely in motion, but I don’t know if he’s getting the intensity he needs. It’s not enough, is it? It’s not enough for most of us. How to justify setting aside so much time when everybody already feels so overloaded.

But Ratey’s evidence is irrefutable, and I’m intrigued. Anybody else thinking about swapping desk chairs for treadmills?

Gotta go. It’s almost 4:15, and I really need a shower.