It’s time to stand up for health.
Here’s what I mean.
I keep up with the latest health recommendations and often implement them as new habits and behaviors. Over the last few months it came to my attention that sitting too long during each day is bad for you. Even if you are a person who exercises and eats well, sitting too much is a no-no.
I recently raised my desk so that I stand for much of my work day and I’ll tell you about that in a moment.
In the short time that I’ve had my desk raised, I’ve seen two additional articles on the subject.
First, the September 2012 issue of Men’s Journal magazine ran a piece by Laird Hamilton explaining why sitting is bad for you:
– You are crunching yourself into a position that engages some muscles and relaxes others in a way that creates an unhealthy imbalance. When you stand up, there is a pull on your back, which results in back soreness.
– Studies have linked sitting to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer: the more you sit, the shorter you will live.
The writer also said that when he drives after exercising his muscles tighten up. That syncs with my experience. I tend to drive soon after I exercise because I exercise before I drive to work in the morning.
Then, Ralph Gardner Jr., a funny guy who writes the “Urban Gardner” column four days a week in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), wrote a tongue-in-cheek and serious piece where he quoted Dr. Anup Kanodia, a researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University, as saying, “I consider sitting like smoking and alcohol abuse.” That’s pretty darn serious.
While I don’t have a job requiring that I sit at a desk for eight hours a day, I do tend to sit a lot, either at a desk, in my car, or in meetings. Also, like everyone else who spends tons of time on a computer, I am drawn to sit down to type.
At first, I tried to remember to get up walk around during the work day. I put a post-it on my computer that said “walk around,” and I noticed it for a while, but as happens with that type of thing it kind of disappeared into the background.
Then, I tried setting alarms on my smartphone to remind myself to get up and walk around, but that only worked when I was at my desk (because in meetings I turn off my phone and I can’t get up and walk around when I am driving unless I pull over.)
Then, this summer, my friend Josh, who I work with, announced that he was raising his desk so that he could work standing up. We work in cubicles and the workstations are made of modular pieces that can be moved around, including up and down.
After he raised his desk, he helped me to raise mine.
Being about a week ahead of me, he warned me that I would have to get used to standing—that my legs would get very tired. That didn’t surprise me because my legs always get tired when I am standing around (cocktail parties, etc.)
What I chose to do was to elevate two of the four sections of my workstation—the middle section where the computer is, and the section to the left which now looks like a countertop. To my right I kept the two sections at sitting height. This way, I could alternate between standing up and sitting down.
That turned out to be a brilliant solution; a wonderful set-up for me. The idea is not to stand all day, but just to make sure that I’m not sitting all day.
Now whenever I use the computer I stand. At times, I use the counter top on the left side to do some standing work—to even stand next to with someone who comes to talk with me, like a counter in a café.
When I feel tired, I can sit down.
As I said I had been struggling with how to get myself into the “not sitting all day” habit and raising the desk was a great idea because it really forced the issue.
Alternatively, you can get something to lift your computer off of your desk. A milk crate will do the trick. In the WSJ piece, Dr. Kanodia is pictured with a small table with telescoping legs. Kanodia also said that when you stand you burn 50% more calories.
That’s pretty cool.
p.s. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’ll be glad to discuss my experience. And please join the conversation with your comments…