Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sitting is the new smoking

A GeekDesk like mine.
Sitting might be just as bad for you as smoking, according to several new studies. It doesn’t even matter how much you exercise. "Heavy sitters" have higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and early death. Your chair is killing you.

• More than four hours a day spent sitting in front of a screen doubled the risk of heart disease in middle-age adults, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

• In a study of 100,000 men and women, those who sat more than six hours a day were more likely to have died over the course of the 14-year study than those who sat for less than three hours a day.

• People who spent a decade or more doing sedentary work were almost twice as likely to develop lower colon cancer, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology.

When we first moved into our office, one of the cubicles was already set up as a standing desk. I had to lower it back down to accommodate an employee, but now I'm thinking someone was ahead of their time.

It makes sense that we evolved to stand and move around, not sit at a desk. So, a year ago I thought I should give it a try. After all, bank tellers, waiters, factory workers, farmers, nurses and many more stand most of the day. If they can, why can’t I?

I started in October, 2010, and I’m still standing all day, every day. I’ve never felt better.

Burn calories
My daily work desk.
It offers lots of space.
You could be burning an extra 100 calories an hour just by standing at work. If you are as overfed as most of us, this small daily change could make a big difference in your weight loss goals. Check out how many calories you would burn standing - Click here. I personally think it’s closer to 30 calories an hour for me, but it all adds up.

Reduce back pain
Years of sitting and gaining weight had left my lower back in pain way too often. I found the best way to reduce the pain in the short run is go for a walk. The best way to reduce it in the long run is to lose weight and build your lower back muscles. Standing at work, instead of sitting, has built up those muscles and I rarely experience back pain now.

Good posture
I notice it’s easier to maintain good posture more often, since there is a lot less slouching in my life. The standing desk is very ergonomic. It just feels great to be standing up at work. I am more focused and alert.

Join the club
Winston Churchill, Donald Rumsfeld, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and Thomas Jefferson used stand-up desks.

Standing options
I wasn’t ready to commit to a standing desk when I began. I simply moved my laptop to a three-drawer file cabinet. After a month of standing, I decided to order one. I bought a GeekDesk for around $700. It moves up and down with a motor, but is pretty basic. As far as usefulness, my review of the GeekDesk is a big thumbs up.

Take it easy
I started working on top
of my filing cabinet.
If you’ve been sitting eight to 10 hours at work and then more at home, it’s tough to just start standing all day. I started with two hours and slowly increased the time. By the end of a month, I was standing at work for eight hours. Every hour or so, I take a short walk in or out of the office and sit down occasionally to read an article. I recently added a rubber pad to stand on. Curiously, it is much more comfortable to stand barefoot than with shoes, but that doesn't go over well in the office.

Try it out
Try standing a couple hours a day. I think you will like it. Let me know how it goes.

Read more
Sitting Vs. Smoking - CBS HealthWatch


  1. I love how the Google ad on the right is so specific to the article content: "Height Adjustable Desk." Crazy.

  2. Also see...
    Study: An hour of TV can shorten your life by 22 minutes.