Monday, April 15, 2013

3 Lessons: How We May Impede Kids from Healthier Creative Minds--& What We Can Do About It.


Sandra H. Rodman, CEO, Right Brain Aerobics
@SHRodman -
425-214-2926 -

I researched this connection between sitting and technology-centered society / health to gain  insight for taking right brain training into educational environments--and came away adding hourly walking breaks to my own schedule, more plants in my environment--so obvious was the research on what happens with hours of sitting in stale air & tech/screen-focused environments.  I decided meditation, eating organic and exercising once a day isn't enough. No need to think about why we're growing more obese and unhealthy--seeking to have more creative mental skills:

"The Major Health Risk You Take Every Day": Sitting. And what can we do to reverse this now for our children?

From "The Major Health Risk You Take Every Day": "Sitting isn't dangerous just because it means you're not exercising. It's dangerous all by itself. Prolonged time spent on your bum has significant metabolic consequences. It negatively affects your blood sugar, triglycerides, good cholesterol, resting blood pressure and levels of the "appetite hormone" leptin, all of which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular disease."
 "'Bursts of exercise is not the answer; 2 hours of exercise per day will not compensate for 22 hours of sitting,' says cancer specialist and author David Agus, MD. In fact, sitting for five or six hours a day, even if you spend an hour a day at the gym, is the equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarettes.'"


I think sitting around inside all day also affects creative mind and mental energy in general: Moving your body = moving your mind into new territory. It is likely impacting intelligence as well as health. Children cooped up and looking at small screens or forced to sit "still" hunched over computers -- no wonder we think they have poor focused attention!!  No wonder they want to "run around" -- they're supposed to!  They aren't getting the natural "running around" and "playing" activities that children have had for millennia and need to thrive and grow. 

We can fix this but Step 1 is acknowledging and understanding how it is already affecting their health and ours. And then move to creatively fix it. Because we can!
How Sitting All Day Is Damaging Your Body & How You Can Counteract It"  (Great ideas for "fixes" that can change your health and your kids health more quickly than you think.)
"Obesity Expert Says Daily Workouts Can't Undo Damange Done from Sitting All Day"  and
Sitting All Day Is Worse For You Than You Might Think.
"If you're sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type. But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly," Blair says. And because the major muscles aren't moving, metabolism slows down. We're finding that people who sit more have less desirable levels" of cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides and even waist size, he says, which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and a number of health problems."
a. We're inadvertently forcing our children into a kind of increasingly unhealthy "hunched over the screen" lifestyle from early years -- because it's now our lifestyle at work and at home. It's about cool convenience-at-all-costs, tech-screen-driven society -- but we are "waking up."  We can balance better. Time to "look up"at the stars more...
"Look up at the stars, not down at your feet." -- Stephen Hawking
b. Do we have time to wait on fixing it? Our children deserve better and we can create better. To fix it for them we'll have to be better role models for a balanced lifestyle -- and that will make us all healthier, thinner, more giving, more able to be there for them longer. I think it will make us smarter and more creative, too.  Sitting around doesn't make us better human beings; moving and taking healthy action does.
At least in my youth I had years of "running around and playing" -- making up my own games and interacting in person with other children. We played all day long and WE NEVER SAT STILL OR STOPPED INVENTING STUFF TO PLAY. This was NOT organized sports (organized means rules -- creative play is without rules and kids today desparately need that kind of play.)
I would go out in the morning in the neighborhood -- without any tools or tech -- we needed nothing! We'd have parents everywhere calling us back for lunch repeatedly so busy were we "inventing" and "creating" games to play together all day! I didn't know I was exercising my creative-improvisational mind all day as well as my body. We didn't need any pills to be happy, thin, or focus in school -- we were exhausted from running around playing--never sitting in front of tech screens.  Moving!
c. Innovation is a state of mind that reaches into the future far beyond technology--and into happier, healthier independent lifestyles.

I know a young couple on Whidbey Island working on inventing new food-growing tools that don't need manufacturing, don't have engines, don't use fuel--do it yourself, less cost for entrepreneurial young farmers.  They grow their own food, own their own land--making them one of the most sustainably independent young couples around; and they're teaching other young couples to do this. Yes, they use technology as needed -- but it is balanced and their children will likely be healthier, more creative, and generous in their life view!
We might need more smart farmers than more smart phones!

LESSON #2: EFFECTS OF PHONE SCREENS & TEXTING: NYTimes: "Your Phone vs. Your Heart." WE NEED TO PROVIDE MORE IN-PERSON HEART-CENTERED COMMUNICATION ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS.   How phone/texting is affecting heart health and body health--and can even cause "heart" attacks...
a. Research is now showing this is more serious than we thought -- it literally hurts the heart It is up to us to engage beyond texts/phone screens in heart-centered direct human hands-on communication. We need to model and create new activities for the highest levels of in-person human emotional communication and appropriate behavior. In fact: OUR health is at risk not just kids' health. And they're learning to substitute text/email for in-person emotion-filled "heartful" human communication--from us!

When I was young, we had communication mostly in person and less "distance" communication. It required learning to handle emotions eyeball-to-eyeball and was NOT easy. No TV. No computer--I had to look things up, find books, ask people questions in person.. We can use technology to grow, not as a crutch, distancing ourselves from more emotion-rich heart-centered in-person human communication. Balance the distance learning advantages with more human learning/caring communication time.
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." - The Dalai Lama 
To understand better the beautiful human, emotions programs/movies they see -- they need to balance. We can create more direct human interaction experiences and environments for kids -- perhaps going to help out at in-person service-oriented non-profits?? Kids don't need more electronics, EMFs, plastic (toxic) play toys. They come equipped to "play" creatively and aren't learning to hone creative minds naturally!
Instead we give them more standardized screen-based education and screen-based interaction and entertainment often. We model it.
Interacting with a picture of a human being is not the same thing as interacting with a living breathing human being a few steps away -- we're finding that the body knows the difference. And it impacts health.
b. We need to educate our own kids about THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIRECT HUMAN COMMUNICATION & HELPING -- AND DISTANCE ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION. They need more balance and deeper emotional understanding of human contexts.
We can use technology -- to be benevolent and to learn -- but we need kids to be more immersed in human emotional language and body language that come from local interaction in person to balance that life.   And we're the models they'll follow. Giving a $ online vs. physically giving a helping hand to help get food to human families who need it -- helping animals who need care -- these can help balance these confusions and increase awareness of human contexts.
 I didn't have TV until college -- it I'd had it I probably wouldn't have a) read books for fun, b) taken time to learn piano and classical music, c) become improvisationally creative, a playwright and innovative entrepreneur, d) added years of healthy exercise to my life and mind, e) added lifelong friends who "played together" creatively when young without many interceding technologies.
c. YOU ARE NOT A GADGET. My later career was all about technology -- and one of the works I found most interesting was that of Jaron Lanier, godfather of VR programming. Now he and other Silicon Valley gurus are courageously stepping out and saying we need to rethink our internet communication and our own social identity as human beings. His new book "You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto" deserves a read!! And if you like tech history and are a futurist, it's a must read.

a. Could it be that if we involved kids (and ourselves) in some way to help out at non-profit service organizations or volunteering to help teachers after school (NOT using technology) or involved kids in helping grow some of their own food organically--that we'd have more creative, exercised, expansive, smarter, healthier kids and happier thriving communities?
Going Out on a Limb: Kids who go with parents to help out in person at local service organizations or help growing some of their own organic food are likely to have way less problems with negative behavior--and way more role models around who are trying to make a difference in the world. 
Kid should be asked THEIR ideas about how to fix up or help local communities What do they think?
Helping plant (no pesticides) flowers, trees, community organic gardens,
helping clean up parks or creating community art or music shows that kids have a say in or help create--great exercise, great creative mind/brain activity, growing compassionate, expansive kids.  Less health problems, less obesity, more direct human-helping relationships, more giving as a habitual lifestyle, more sense of responsibility for local communities and the qualities of other people's lives, more learning of leadership, sharing, and knowledge of how communities work; better informed voters and future leaders in every industry.
Instead of putting kids on food "diets" ("don't do's") maybe we get them involved in more healthy giving physical activity "diets" -- busily helping others, learning to plant food and gardens, creating art in communities as a contribution. And learning to do these in healthy ways. There is likely a connection between creative healthy genius and expansiveness.
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." -- Dr. Martin Luther King

b. Expansiveness, "Distance" Relationships," & the "Shut In." Redefining "human."
In those early non-tech-centered days: We "visited" others a lot in person. We walked a lot in our interactions. We physically helped neighbors or went with parents to visit people who were called "Shut Ins" -- people who couldn't walk well or get about much.
Are WE now are the "shut ins"? Raising other little "shut ins" who're going to have serious health problems until we creatively model a new world for them? We help them habituate looking at shiny screens all day and atrophy muscles. These muscles are needed not just for healthy bodies but for healthy compassionate, creative minds. Human communication and expansiveness can shut down with mostly screen-focused "distance" text-based communication.
Is it time to redefine "human" as distinguished from technology? And help
our children's minds & health in the process? Expansive genius, emotionally passionate and compassionate inspirers, intuitive and creative innovators, giving and caring benefactors, always reaching out to others in loving ways, walking about in the world and growing things to learn about life, making quatum leaps in every sense -- not "Shut In"? Vigorously alive and soaring....

In closing, in our Right Brain Start Up exercise, the first step is "3 Movements" -- if you practice Right Brain Start Up several times a day to take a mental break, use this first step as a prompt to first take a physical "movement" break, too.  Move the body = Move the mind... 

First do no harm...  No--we don't need to put children on diets and pills until we first transform the simply daily habits and environments of our children and ourselves... We need to get them moving!  It's healthier, less expensive, less risky, doesn't subject them to life-hampering diagnoses about attention!  Both physical movement and community helping activities can spark new kinds of "attention" and exercise that matters. We want to use technology in more healthy lifestyles so that we can enjoy it with our children longer! 

"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking..." -- Fredrich Nietzsche

Sandra H. Rodman, CEO, Right Brain Aerobics
@SHRodman -
425-214-2926 -

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