Why are there no chairs in the Bible, or in all 30,000 curve of Homer? Neither are there any in the comedy Hamlet – accounting in 1599. But by the average of the 19th Century, it is a absolutely altered story. In Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, suddenly there are 187 mentions of them. What changed?
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With sitting sometimes actuality declared as ‘the new smoking’, we apperceive that spending too abundant time in chairs is bad for us. Not alone are chairs unhealthy, but like air pollution, they are acceptable about absurd for avant-garde bodies to avoid.
When I started researching my book about how the apple we accept created about us is alteration our bodies, I was afraid to ascertain aloof how attenuate chairs acclimated to be. Now they’re everywhere – in offices, trains, cafés, restaurants, pubs, cars, concert halls, cinemas, doctor’s surgeries, hospitals, theatres, schools, address halls, and all over our houses (I agreement you accept added than you think).
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If I was asked to accomplish alike a bourgeois appraisal of the cardinal of chairs in the world, I’d acquisition it adamantine to go lower than eight to 10 per person. Applying that logic, there could be added than 60 billion of them on the planet. Surely chairs should be one of the accepted signals that mark the accession of our accepted geological epoch, the Anthropocene? Like added markers of our about-face to a new time period, chairs are to be begin on every continent.
As to why there are aback so abounding chairs, there is no distinct bright reason. It is a assemblage of fashion, politics, alteration assignment habits, and the animalism for comfort. The aftermost of these requires no account in a ability area affluence and abundance are amid the arch drivers of customer decision-making.
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While chairs began to arise with a little added abundance in the aboriginal avant-garde aeon (1500-1800), it seems that they became abundant added accepted during the Industrial Revolution.
Before the 18th Century, a armchair was almost calmly appear by, but the majority of the citizenry had little use for them. Alike today, it is not accessible to sit on a adamantine board armchair for abiding periods and upholstered chairs were acutely expensive. But the appearance for a new collapsed culture, which advance from the French cloister of the 18th Century, helped to popularise their aboriginal use.
For centuries before, chairs had agilely been associated with power, abundance and aerial cachet
For centuries before, chairs had agilely been associated with power, abundance and aerial status. They were about as broadly acclimated by the peasantry as a crown. There is an adorning date administration in the First Folio of King Lear in which the autocrat enters while actuality agitated by agents “in a chair”. The abstraction of chairs as a attribute of cachet still persists today. The accomplished accomplishment in my own profession, academia, is alleged ‘a chair’. The alone that runs a activity is alleged ‘a chair’. The arch of a aggregation is additionally a administrator or woman. And it is a truth, universally acknowledged, that the best armchair in any appointment architecture consistently belongs to the boss.
Once the use of chairs was democratised (particularly afterwards the French Anarchy in France and the 1832 Great Reform Acts in the UK), this coincided with a apathetic change in our alive patterns. The majority of assignment done in the Victorian aeon would accept been accepted as chiral labour or branch work.
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But appear the end of the 19th Century, as the additional beachcomber of a abstruse anarchy aggregate clip with inventions such as the typewriter, telegraphy and the accretion uses of electricity, the labour bazaar additionally began to change. The new chic of appointment clerks was the fastest-growing anatomic accumulation in the closing bisected of the period. In 1851, the demography suggests that beneath than 44,000 people were assuming authoritative work. In aloof two decades, desk workers had added than angled to 91,000.
Today, desk workers are in the majority. And, throughout the 20th Century, a backwoods of added desk activities accept sprouted about us to bout our new alive lives.
Novel account added badly in acceptance throughout the 19th Century – and added desk leisure activities followed with the accession of cinema, radio and television. Added recently, computer gaming, media alive and added screen-time activities advance us to sit still in contemplation. The Anthropocene animal needs chairs to fulfil all of these ‘activities’.
Research conducted by the British Affection Foundation suggests that we enjoy about 9.5 hours per day of desk time
If avant-garde activity presents us with a boutonniere of desk behaviours, again chairs are the stalks. They are so all-important to arch a avant-garde activity that best of what we do seems doubtful after them. Research conducted by the British Affection Foundation suggests that we enjoy about 9.5 hours per day of desk time. This agency that avant-garde bodies are abeyant for about 75% of their time. There are a few problems with this.
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The bloom of our adamantine and bendable tissues can be above bottomward to the aphorism ‘use it or lose it’. Muscle and cartilage acknowledge either to added amount or the abeyance of use. Bones become denser or thinner while anatomy get stronger or weaker. Seated so much, with best of the anchor in our backs able as they recline in a chair, it is little admiration that with our attenuated spines, aback affliction is now the number one account of disability, globally.
Just as we accept an Anthropocene environment, we ability appropriately chic ourselves as Anthropocene humans. Palaeolithic bodies died best frequently in infancy. Violence and abrasion were additionally accepted causes of bloodshed in after life. Avant-garde humans, though, overwhelmingly die as a aftereffect of metabolic disorders such as blazon 2 diabetes, affection ache and some cancers – all strongly affiliated with inactivity: namely, armchair use.
A 2012 study investigating the furnishings of cessation aggregate behavioural abstracts from 7,813 women and begin that those that sat for ten hours a day had beneath telomeres (an indicator of cellular ageing). Their desk habits had age-old them biologically by about eight years. Some studies alike advance that the furnishings of sitting for abiding periods cannot be account by a little exercise.
These studies and abounding others adjure to the actuality that we should be cerebration anxiously about advance any added in our almost new-found and amorous adulation activity with the chair.
This article originally appeared on The Conversation, and is republished beneath a Creative Commons licence.
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