The latest research on how a sedentary lifestyle is worse for our health than many of the bad habits we may have has been all over the news. Some headlines compare smoking cigarettes to sitting at your desk all day and claim that smoking is a healthier choice. While this is a severe and perhaps unfair comparison, these studies point to the increased risk of disease from sitting most of the day.

What this research doesn’t even begin to talk about is what being sedentary does to our brain power.

Researchers at Wayne University School of Medicine found evidence that points to how inactivity structurally and functionally changes a brain. Their research focused on two groups of rats – those with a wheel and those without one. They were looking at a particular part of the brain – the rostral ventrolateral medulla – that functions similarly in humans, and the activity here impacts the central nervous system. Their findings at the end of the 3 month study showed that the sedentary brain had changed and that response to stimuli was harder to control, causing increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

While this study was not conducted with humans, it does tell us that sitting all day is not only bad for our bodies but also our brains. An increased response to normal stimuli points to increased stress and decreased coping skills. Presentation skills are an equally mental and physical challenge and practicing them is one way to sneak important activity into your work day.

  • Try standing in your office during a phone call and try on your non-verbal presentation skills
  • Schedule breaks in your day to practice your next big talk
  • Ask small groups to stand when talking through a project

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, “theatre work,” or speaking in front of an audience, burns on average 112 calories for 30 minutes. Just fitting in a little practice will not only help you when you step up in front of the room – it will also improve your overall health.