NPR covers the homemade treadmill desk

Just spotted this story on the NPR website: Can You Move It and Work It on a Treadmill Desk?

The author cites an expert who says not to try to walk on the treadmill all day long. Instead, walk for a half-hour on the treadmill, then a half-hour off, and so on, for two to three hours a day. That’s a maximum.

Don’t know if that means two to three total hours maximum of walking, or two to three hours maximum of on-off. The wording implies the latter.

Even just standing the rest of the time might be enough to mitigate “the sitting effect.”  You are using your leg muscles, and that’s what seems to count most, from what I’ve read.

I liked finding out that someone is now an expert and is consulting with companies. There’s a new “walking meeting,” in which participants walk and talk.

Levine is on a mission to get any kind of movement into the workplace and the workday. He’s consulted with a number of companies nationwide to help them do this. The most popular activity by far, he says, is the “walk and talk” meeting. “They’re generally shorter, more productive, and people don’t fall asleep during walk-and-talk meetings.”

Also, during one study in which participants rotated on and off treadmill desks, the company earned its highest revenue ever.

The environment, he says, was simply “more dynamic.”

Yep, moving people are definitely dynamic!

More on the power of standing

Stand Up, Walk Around, Even Just For ’20 Minutes’: NPR.

Terry Gross interviews Gretchen Reynolds (see my previous post  The easiest shortcut to health you can make) about her new book, The First 20 Minutes.

Reynolds recommends standing for two minutes every 20 minutes while desk-bound — even if you can’t move around your office. “That sounds so simple,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “But that actually has profound consequences. If you can stand up every 20 minutes — even if you do nothing else — you change how your body responds physiologically.”

Reynolds says prolonged sitting affects diabetes, weight, heart disease, and brain function.

She talks about other new wisdom in regard to health and fitness, including stretching before a workout, warming up, running, walking, hydration, and more.

How to boost your creativity: define it broadly, then get a massage

NPR has a good review of the book Imagine: How Creativity Works and an interview with the author, Jonah Lehrer, a writer about neuroscience.

Creativity and neuroscience — two topics that turn me on! So, oh boy, here are some excerpts I found interesting!

Lehrer defines creativity broadly, considering everything from the invention of masking tape to breakthroughs in mathematics; from memorable ad campaigns to Shakespearean tragedies. He finds that the conditions that favor creativity — our brains, our times, our buildings, our cities — are equally broad.

“I think one of the mistakes we’ve made in talking about creativity is we’ve assumed it’s a single verb — that when people are creative they’re just doing one particular kind of thinking. But looking at creativity from the perspective of the brain, we can see that creativity is actually a bundle of distinct mental processes.”

“… Whether you’re writing a Shakespearean tragedy, or trying to come up with a new graphic design or writing a piece of software, how we think about the problem should depend on the problem itself. Creativity is really a catch-all term for a variety of very different kinds of thinking.”

“The question becomes, what happens if you hit the wall? Because we’ve all got experience with this. You’re working on a creative problem, and then all of a sudden that feeling of progress disappears … What you should do then — when you hit the wall — is get away from your desk. Step away from the office. Take a long walk. Daydream. Find some way to relax. Get those alpha waves. Alpha waves are a signal in the brain that’s closely correlated with states of relaxation. And what scientists have found is that when people are relaxed, they’re much more likely to have those big ‘A ha!’ moments, those moments of insight where these seemingly impossible problems get solved.”

So get a massage if you’re blocked! It’ll help you relax, definitely take you into the alpha range, and probably into theta (toward sleep) for even deeper relaxation and access to even more resources.

“The brain is just an endless knot of connections. And a creative thought is simply … a network that’s connecting itself in a new wayThere are all sorts of ways seemingly old ideas can get reassembled in a new way.”

You can read the whole article here. Click the link in the first sentence to order the book from Amazon.com.

Here’s to more happiness!

A five-year study by National Geographic fellow Dan Beuttner identified the world’s healthiest places and researched what made the residents healthy. His book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who’ve Lived the Longest contains the results of his research.

Beuttner’s new book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way describes his findings about how people in those places find happiness — and how you can too. He was interviewed on NPR. (You can find links to his other interviews on NPR. This is some pretty fascinating research.)

In some places people were happy because of government policies, such as a high tax rate that pays for education through college, health care, and retirement in Denmark — a safety net for everyone that relieves financial stress and maximizes creativity and happiness, and tax breaks for adults whose aging parents live with or near them in Singapore — because socializing with parents increases happiness too.

Here are a few tips that you can implement on your own to increase your happiness, without waiting for government to do anything:

  • Live around happy people. If you’re unhappy, move where the people are happier. Here’s a list of happy (and sad) cities. I’m happy to say that Austin is the second happiest large city in the nation.
  • Work smarter: Working to earn more than $75,000 (for a family of four) does not equate to more day-to-day experiences of happiness. So if you’re making $75,000 now, working harder might net you more money but it probably won’t make you feel better. Go do something fun instead of putting in that overtime!
  • Shorten your commute by moving near work or working nearer (or from) your home.

I also like to remember this awesome quote:

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. ~ Guillaume Apollinaire

To relax, to improve health, to change the world, just breathe

Last night I attended the monthly Austin NLP meetup. Katie Raver, who was raised by an NLP-trained mom and who is a co-founder of Austin NLP and who created Year of the Breath in 2009, presented on the topic Breathing Life into Rapport.

Note: Katie is my temporary roommate. And she loves my cat, Mango. I may be biased.

Katie drew on her experiences in Hawai’i (where ha means breath, thus Hawai’i, aloha, ha‘ole — without breath, ha prayer). When she returned, she noticed how shallow breathing negatively impacted a work-related meeting she was in, and she experimented with pacing and then leading the alpha person at the meeting (not the speaker, but the key decision maker) to breathe more deeply, thus changing the state of the meeting for all 17 people present. Only Katie — or as we call her, the instigator of love — was aware of how that shift occurred.

We had fun doing exercises like matching someone’s breathing while talking to them and matching their breathing while they’re talking to you. Sorry you missed it.

I must say, it’s a lovely experience to have a room full of people breathing in unison. It’s on a par with hearing a room full of people all chanting OM. Deep. Alive. Powerful. 

 Today an email led me to this NPR article dated Dec. 6, 2010, Just Breathe: Body Has a Built-In Stress Reliever.

As it turns out, deep breathing is not only relaxing, it’s been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.

Yogis and meditators know this. Breath is powerful.

But more importantly, [breathing exercises] can be used as a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.

Click the link to read up on the latest scientific findings about using breath to influence health and well-being.

You can also make meetings more satisfying. At least you won’t be bored.