Sitting is the new smoking

Humans evolved on the African grasslands, needing to be almost constantly on the move, gathering food and following herds of migrating animals.  There wasn’t a lot of sitting around. That is no longer the case.

Increased years of schooling, use of cars, number of office jobs, socializing by social media, and hours of watching videos and playing computer games have turned us into a society addicted to sitting.

Research has repeatedly linked sitting and other “inactive” behaviours to obesity, heart disease, depression, and difficulty in concentrating and learning.  Surprising even a typical 45-minute gym exercise routine does little to offset 8 hours of sitting per day.

And yet in some classrooms the old mantra “Sit up and sit still” continues to be heard.  Some teachers think that a  child’s need to stand or fidget is a character flaw that needs to be corrected.   Very few classrooms provide students the ability to stand (or walk) while they learn – the only working surfaces are desks designed to be used while sitting.

One of the worst effects of making kids sit still in chairs in classroom is that it makes it more difficult for some of them to self-regulate their behaviour, emotions, and ability to learning.  Fortunately there are ways to reduce the amount of sitting without creating chaos in the class.