For those concerned with the health effects of their sedentary reading habits, a new study could be inspiring. And although it’s specifically about work habits, its application to reading should be obvious.

The study, by a joint team from the Tech3lab, HEC Montreal, and the OU Price College of Business, set up an experiment “in which participants either sat or walked while they read a text and received emails. Afterward, all participants performed a task to evaluate their attention and memory. Behavioral, neurophysiological, and perceptual evidence showed that participants who walked had a short-term increase in memory and attention, indicating that the use of a treadmill desk has a delayed effect. These findings suggest that the treadmill desk, in addition to having health benefits for workers, can also be beneficial for businesses by enhancing workforce performance.”

Many readers will probably remember another study out of Canada a short while ago, which found that a predominantly sedentary lifestyle led to a 90 percent higher chance of developing diabetes, a 24 percent increase in overall mortality, and an 18% higher chance of dying of heart disease or cancer. And that’s regardless of the amout of exercise at other times. Suddenly Ernest Hemingway’s habit of writing while standing up starts to make a lot more sense.

Naturally, for companies that may one day be facing a whole slew of as-yet-unanticipated liability suits, the whole issue may appear more urgent than for book fans. And it’s ironic to think that businesses might actually put their staff on the treadmill for their own good. But health-conscious readers, the principle of the reading tour – and the portable reading device – could genuinely be a life saver. Worth anyone’s attention.



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