I was sent away to the strange and foreign Health Studies building to attend an energy break workshop. What is an energy break, one might ask? I will tell you.
We live in a sitting society. We sit in class, at work, when we eat, at the computer, in front of our TVs, in our vehicles. Research related at the energy break workshop showed that 55% of people sit for 9.3 hours a day, 40% sit for 6.3 hours a day, and 5% sit for 1 hour a day. Not much detail was given about this study or where the sample came from, but the presenter, Daryle MacCannell, said these statistics resemble Canadian society. I challenge you, reader, to calculate how many hours you spend sitting in a day in order to test the study’s validity.
Sitting is not bad in moderation, but in excess it is harmful and addictive. Sitting for more than six hours a day (and considering the above statistics, that is 95% of the studied population) are 40% more likely to die within 15 years. These statistics are, again, vague and not discussed in detail. Nevertheless, one can intuit: lack of exercise results in weight gain, weight gain is bad for the heart, several other factors at play, et cetera, et cetera. Long story short the seat-addicts among us need to be more active! This could mean you. Even if being active is, instead of Facebook or email, five minute bursts between studying.
At the sound of the instructor’s alarm, the lecture quickly turned into gym class. First we were asked to move like a robot, then we were running on the spot and mimicking various dance movements, jogging around the room, doing pushups, jumping jacks, playing with frisbees and some simple games. It was high school gym class all over again! MacCannell suggested that we could easily pick something up, a piece of paper for example, and create different ways to get our bodies moving.
How does this relate to mental health? Physical activity doesn’t only invigorate the body, it does wonders for the mind as well. Closing the presentation, the final slide read: “Sit less, move more. Be a motivator.” And perhaps achieving soundness of mind is as simple as that.