Why have you stopped to work as a Doctor?
I never stopped. I am just using a different set of tools, because the instruments in the clinic are only treating symptoms, while the underlying insidious cause sadly keeps on working against us and remains untouched. I am talking about the chair and the sedentary lifestyle. A fundamental and fatal mistake in the history of our species.
When it comes to furthering our understanding of human physiology and disease, it is one of the most exciting times in history to be alive. Our bodies are the most fascinating and complex machines, and modern science has continued to unveil the full potential we carry within each of us. Through ongoing exploration of the body’s fundamental interconnectivity of physical, mental and emotional elements – and with the support of state-of-the-art medical tools available today – we can finally truely seek to enhance human longevity and wellbeing. This has become not only the focus of my professional career, but my life’s passion.
Why sitting is called the new smoking
A generation ago, the world faced quite a similar situation with smoking tobacco. The evidence, that cigarette smoking is linked to numerous severe health issues, rapidly mounted study after study. Nevertheless, it took decades until we gained a significant level of public awareness regarding the associated risks; today, the danger of smoking is largely considered an undeniable truth and basic knowledge. If the human race were to improve in one regard as a whole, it should be to learn from those who came before us and to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
The Italian polymath Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is famous for his standpoint that science has the responsibility – if not the obligation – to inform the public about groundbreaking discoveries, despite any and all opposition.
So, here we are, it is time again to reveal highly concerning scientific observations that must reshape how we live and work. The need for movement is so deeply ingrained within our innate composition – our hunter-gatherer genome – that we simply cannot ignore it. By continuing to turn a blind eye, when we often sit for more than eight hours each day, humans will inevitably pay an unnecessary death toll and ultimately lose the battle against the chronic ‘societal-based diseases,’ both as individuals as well as on a larger socioeconomic scale.
From white coat to entrepreneurship
My professional journey through the universe of medical institutions and research laboratories has granted me personal insight into the fates of thousands of patients across cultures and continents. It is no exaggeration to say that I have seen great suffering, which in many cases was highly preventable. Oftentimes, the affected weren’t even aware of how their daily actions could result in such unbearable chronic pain.
From my scientific findings, I came to the unwavering conclusion that I needed to change my position on this battlefield if I were to make a meaningful difference. Remaining in medicine and research would mean that I would continue to treat and investigate the symptoms of a disease, rather than working on a treatment or, even better, a method for prevention.
So, in 2016 I turned my full attention and effort towards developing a true alternative to the chair. I found a comrade and great partner in the office furniture industry, my friend Frank Ackermann, who was equally enthusiastic about the challenge to declare the war on sitting. Together we founded the treadmill desk company Walkolution. Our company has been built on a core mission: to reimagine the modern workplace where our human genetic needs are at the very centre. At the same time, Walkolution seeks to foster and actively support this change for generations to come, starting with our school systems.
I believe that people in the second half of the 21st century will look back on our current sedentary lifestyle era with disbelief and shaking heads.
We can no longer take this sitting down. It is time for a walking revolution.
Eric Soehngen, MD