Thoracic Park: California chickens treated better than human office workers

I encountered this great post on Elephant Journal and thought I’d share, since I’ve posted before on the health risks of sedentary work.

I love a good play on words.

The modern office is a thoracic park—stooped shoulders and curved upper backs repeated on every row, on every floor in every building in every city of the world.

We should all be standing up for a good part of the day, but realize that we’re going to meet considerable organizational resistance if we do.

The cultural and social norms of most organizations and the narrow-minded acceptance of the chair as the easiest way to do business can be a stronger force than our will to create a better working environment for ourselves.

Former corporate employee in Australia and current Ashtanga teacher in Istanbul Rocco Marinelli rigged up a standing workstation to this result:

The greatest resistance, however, didn’t come from colleagues but from the very group in the organization there to assist. I returned from holiday to find my desk that had been returned to the uniform state of those around it. My make-shift workstation had been thrown out by, of all people, the Occupational Health and Safety Manager.

An audit was being carried out for work-place safety and my standing workstation was deemed a blemish. Note that it hadn’t been just dismantled but thrown out straight in to a dumpster, a finality in decision making that closed the matter, never to be discussed again.

It may have been jerry-built, it mightn’t have been pretty but it wasn’t a safety issue. The issue was with homogeneity, with regularity, with being able to walk an auditor down a hallway to show off symmetry and unblemished uniformity.

Fortunately Rocco doesn’t leave us there:

The trend is changing, and in less than a few years standing up will not only be accepted, it will be the cool thing to do.

Groups of workers will rotate between sitting down, standing up and moving around because it will be sold to the health departments of corporates by clever people who will make a lot of money. A number of studies already support the idea and the imperative is now being felt by employers to be seen to be doing something.

Within a generation we’ll reflect the same way we look back at smoking in the office. But don’t wait for a study to corroborate what good sense tells you is already true: we are active creatures by design and to switch off your core for eight hours a day is inviting injury and atrophy.

Who cares if you’re the only one? Others will follow and wouldn’t you rather feel energized and healthy?


Ernest Hemingway

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