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President William Howard Taft:  Too big for a standard chair

I’m from Toronto, home of the Domed Stadium.  That means that even as a non fan of baseball,  I still loved going to games because of 1; The Domed Stadium 2; The Jumbotron and 3; The Seventh Inning Stretch.

The Domed stadium is so cool it made you pray for rain on game day.  The Jumbotron, the largest scoreboard in the world was so over stimulating that love it or hate it, I could never tear my eyes away from it to watch what was happening on the field.

Breaking up sedentary behaviour is not an invention of modern ergonomics. 

And the seventh inning stretch, so taken for granted in baseball culture, was my first institutional experience of breaking up sedentary behaviour by getting up and moving around.

I think what I loved was the buy-in.  To see fifty-five thousand people needing to stand up and stretch at the same time leaves a big impression.

That’s right.  Breaking up sedentary behaviour is not an invention of modern ergonomics. 

The seventh inning stretch precedes the stadium wave by more than 100 years.  It dates back as early as 1869, when a coach whose job it was to supervise student fans at the game noticed his charges were getting restless during the seventh inning.  Thinking on his feet (yup) he called for everybody in the bleachers to stand up and blow off some steam.

The practice was institutionalized in 1910 when President William Howard Taft went to the ball game in Cincinnati.  At 160 kg, and 1.88 meters, he was definitely anthropometrically too big for most chairs.  When he stood up to stretch his cramped limbs it virtually forced the audience to do the same.

All of which raises the question, why is this wonderful and wide accepted practice limited to baseball?

Imagine the impact it would have on people if more sports and cultural events would promote the idea that everybody needs to get up and move around after sitting for a prolonged period. Don’t you think more people would take the practice and institute it in the workplace?

And in the absence of a workplace, which is how most of us have been working the past year, have you instituted your own inter-inning stretches?

Baseball got it right.  At the ball game, we also get up to cheer, to boo, to let our neighbours in and out, to get a beer and go to the bathroom.  One long, intentional movement practice in the middle of the afternoon plus a bunch of shorter breaks is the winning formula.  If stadiums full of beer drinking sport fans have institutionalized the practice, you can too.