The Seat of Learning Isn’t a Chair

While we sit, our blood triglycerides creep up and up, and our hearts function sluggishly. Blood flow is not returned efficiently from our legs, and our ankles swell. Back pain occurs and our wrists hurt. Prolonged sitting softens the skeleton. As we continue to stay seated, our brains lull and creativity falls. James Levine, Get Up: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.

[E]xercise improves learning on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of the new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus. John Ratey, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

When we condemn students to sit in the classroom, we contribute to their physical deterioration and impede their intellectual development.

The sedentary life doesn’t simply lead to an aesthetically displeasing corpus or diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Check out the following video for the lowdown on sitting:

We already understand the ill effects of sedentary living. Our bodies are our barometers. What do our bodies tell us about sedentary classes and meetings? They scream to us: these are energy draining rather than energy-replenishing processes. This is why copious caffeine or nicotine is required for sheer survival during these stationary life and death battles with drowsiness.

On the other hand, emerging evidence from Naperville District 203, Titusville, Pennsylvania school system, the London Royal Ballet, Finland’s first-tier educational system (where 15 minutes of recess are allotted for each 45 minutes of instruction), and Mindstream Academy suggests that exercise not only improves academic performance but behavior as well.

Enter Philosophy to address the problem:

  1. Realization that education is not best administered in sedentary environments
  2. Recognition of a new mind-body paradigm that understands the integration of the physical and intellectual
  3. Reorganization of the physical classroom to reflect the new mind-body paradigm: no chairs, standing and treadmill desks, exercise equipment, and implementation of movement in every class and meeting
  4. Reinvention of teachers as models of activit
  5. 5.Reevaluation of our wellbeing in the world, which is fueled by activity

According to the Lewis University Strategic Plan the environment, “should promote sustainable, ecological, and physiological wellbeing.” In a large part, strategic activity is the key to wellbeing. If activity were administered in all classrooms and departments, Lewis University could be a healthier, more productive, and more creative university.


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