Written several thousand years ago, the Yellow Emperor's Classic remains a valuable document of medical and metaphysical importance. It uses the Theory of Five Transformations as a key concept, or model. Many of you are familiar with the Five Transformations, or you can read more about it elsewhere.
Each Phase of the Five Transformations governs a pair of organs--Wood (Liver & Gall Bladder), Fire (Heart & Small Intestines), Earth (Spleen-Pancreas & Stomach), Metal (Lung & Large Intestines) and Water (Kidney & Bladder). We will focus on the solid organs: Liver, Heart, Spleen-Pancreas, Lung and Kidney, because they are the vital (can’t live without them) organs.
For each of these five organs, there is a particular stress, or "taxation," that can potentially injure it. The first taxation we’ll focus on is excess sitting. Strange as it may sound, excessive sitting can injure and deplete the vitality of a specific organ. In February 2014 a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that excessive sitting increases risk of heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and death from cancer or stroke.
Which of the five organs is weakened by excessive sitting? The answer is Spleen-Pancreas, according to the ancient classic. Since Spleen-Pancreas governs digestion and strength of blood (determined by the food we eat), we can predict that excess sitting disturbs good digestion. This can lead to stomach and pancreas problems in particular, from acid reflux to ulcers to diabetes. In Oriental medicine the Spleen-Pancreas controls thinking processes, so problems here can show up as worry, anxiety and obsessive thoughts.
Our lesson is: become less sedentary, walk daily and do stretching or other exercises regularly. If your work or lifestyle includes a lot of sitting, remember to stand up frequently, move around and stretch, even for a few minutes. Of course, activities such as house work and yard work, playing with children, or moderate gym work outs or sports are great.
In this way you will become healthier—by benefiting digestion and freeing the mind of petty worries. As the Tang Dynasty famous Taoist physician Sun Si Maio advised: after each meal walk 100 steps, then you will live to 100 years old.