Stand Up For Your Health!
March 15, 2010 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you. 'Your chair is your enemy. It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.' 'Several strands of evidence suggest that there’s a “physiology of inactivity”: that when you spend long periods sitting, your body actually does things that are bad for you.'

This is not exactly [warning: video] new or controversial research.

Yet the evidence keeps rolling in. Will future offices be structured differently, and will the cubicle be a thing of the past in view of the health hazards to office workers? For now, many people have taken to constructing home-made treadmills around their desk or work area, and there are commercial solutions as well.
posted by VikingSword (141 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
 
God damn it.
posted by chunking express at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


Anyone else just stand up?
posted by sallybrown at 1:25 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Too hard to code while using treadmill desk. I've tried it. Email maybe.
posted by GuyZero at 1:27 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that's depressing.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2010


I've been thinking about getting a stand-up desk.
posted by brundlefly at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is good news - it means it doesn't matter whether I exercise or not!
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


I am holding out for zero G
posted by rebent at 1:31 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I code while dodging a hail of nerf darts. Does this increase or decrease my life expectancy?
posted by captaincrouton at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2010


My ass just said "well duh."
posted by brain_drain at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Submitting my purchase order for a bed right now.
posted by swift at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, shit. I'm gonna look for a big yoga ball or something.
posted by everichon at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2010


Uh, oh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2010


Because you're not exhausted enough at the end of a day of work.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on March 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Too hard to code while using treadmill desk. I've tried it. Email maybe.

I can see that. I've switched to a standing desk in the past couple months, and been doing a lot of coding. The thing I've been thinking about to add to it has been something like a bosu ball or some other passive-balance type thing, which I think would be easier to simultaneously concentrate on my work and get a little more out of it than just standing.
posted by robla at 1:36 PM on March 15, 2010


Even worse for your health: neurotic health obsessions.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:36 PM on March 15, 2010 [28 favorites]


Well, that explains why I've gained twenty pounds in the last five years since I took a job with less legwork.

Of course for me, that just means I'm now at the low end of the correct weight for my height.

I guess I'd better stand up now and quit while I'm ahead.
posted by davejay at 1:37 PM on March 15, 2010


Scientists need to quit telling me what's going to kill me and start telling me how to become immortal. They're researching the wrong things.
posted by dortmunder at 1:38 PM on March 15, 2010 [45 favorites]


The chair ruins your health while the cubicle crushes your spirit and your job robs you of your self respect. But other than that, everything's good, right?
posted by tommasz at 1:38 PM on March 15, 2010 [56 favorites]


Pretty much the most exhausting thing you can do at work is nothing. Most of my previous jobs required zilch in terms of physical activity, and by the end of the day I often felt like a tired old man. When I started working at a public library I was pleasantly surprised by how much better I felt because I had to get up and walk around, lift piles of books, etc. semi-regularly. I wouldn't call it exercise, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:40 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I pop up once an hour and run up five flights of stairs (and walk back down). I try to combine the stair climbing with a trip to the restroom if I can. Stair-climbing in does clear the head wonderfully.

Vladimir Nabkov wrote standing up at a lectern. Mark Twain wrote lying down in bed (with a cigar). I would gladly adopt either practice if it helped me to write as well as either of them.
posted by Faze at 1:43 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


It would be nice if the article actually gave some guidelines - how often you should get up and move around - how long and so forth. I get up a lot when I'm at home but I have no idea if it's enough.
posted by clockworkjoe at 1:44 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would be nice to have an ergonomic standard tat required you to have a stand-up desk in your office, I suppose, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, I take the stairs, I get up and walk around outside as many times during the day as I can, and I fling imprecations at entropy. All to what avail, I have no idea.
posted by blucevalo at 1:45 PM on March 15, 2010


What does this mean for recumbent riders?
posted by OmieWise at 1:47 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I take the stairs

Remember, folks: be an elavoider.
posted by everichon at 1:48 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, standing in one place for 8 hours is also pretty damned bad for you. So, cubicles of workers standing at their keyboards are not likely to be in our future. The problem isn't sitting or standing. It the sedentary jobs most people are required to perform today.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


It would be nice if the article actually gave some guidelines - how often you should get up and move around - how long and so forth.

And yes -- I agree -- the doomy warnings without recommendations for active solutions (other than "request a stand-up desk from your boss") are pretty ridiculous and serve to do little more than raise blood pressure and increase anxiety.
posted by blucevalo at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2010


Anyone else just stand up?

That can also cause problems, such as:

swollen or painful feet or legs
bunions
plantar fasciitis (inflamed connective tissue that goes from heel to toe, supporting the arch)
stretched Achilles tendon (tendinitis)
varicose veins
knee problems
low back pain
neck and shoulder stiffness
poor posture (and its effects)
restricted blood flow
increased chance of knee or hip arthritis and
muscle soreness and fatigue


So it looks like we are screwed either way.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2010


I get up when the blood in my legs clots. Unfortunately, by then the skin on my elbows has usually partially grafted to the arms of my chair, so I usually just fall down and crawl around on the litter-strewn carpet like a tortoise on its back in a desert of stale Cheeto crumbs until the janitors take pity, flip me over, and push me back in front of the monitor for another week of fun. Then I come here.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:50 PM on March 15, 2010 [43 favorites]


Don't some Japanese workplaces require daily calisthenics throughout the day? Doesn't seem like a bad idea in this context.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2010


This is not exactly [warning: video] new or controversial research.

Agreed. So, um...

Any news on smoking? Still bad?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2010


It would be nice if the article actually gave some guidelines - how often you should get up and move around - how long and so forth.

The link I gave above is to a study that establishes, that basically there is a dose-response effect:

CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate a dose-response association between sitting time and mortality from all causes and CVD, independent of leisure time physical activity.

In other words there's a linear relationship - every minute you sit, you are increasing your health risks. There is no cut-off point. This obviously is bad news, but the data from multiple studies is very clear on this.

We evolved as hunters-gatheres. We were rarely still - walking - picking grubs, mushrooms, berries, nuts, fruit etc.
posted by VikingSword at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here is a thread about this on a health obsessed website, one that It's Raining Florence Henderson would hate and dortmunder would like.

tldr - For those who can't afford a desk treadmill, exercise balls and pedals can be good enough substitutes.

I can personally attest that replacing my chair with an exercise ball has done a lot towards my energy levels and mood. I plan on trying the pedals when I can afford them. Unclear if either of these things are better than standing though.
We really didn't evolve to sit all day and stare at a screen, so any sort of activity that we can add is a huge step.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 1:51 PM on March 15, 2010


Actually, if this research has any traction, you might be seeing workers compensation covering weight gain as a workplace injury (akin to carpal tunnel). A good argument could be made
posted by jabberjaw at 1:54 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is horrible! I need to sit down. Oh crap.
posted by kmz at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What does this mean for recumbent riders?

They're not sitting still, eh?
posted by telstar at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2010


This is why I consistently get up to wander around the office to graze from the candy bowls of my co-workers. It's for my health.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


We didn't "evolve" to drag plows through gumbo, to dig for rocks hundreds of feet below ground, to fish in the North Atlantic. Yeah, I hate sitting on my ass all day, but it beats those other alternatives.
posted by No Robots at 1:59 PM on March 15, 2010


What does this mean for recumbent riders?
posted by OmieWise at 2:47 PM on March 15 [+] [!]


It means their ding dongs will still work after an eight hour ride, same as always.
posted by mecran01 at 2:01 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is misleading. If you go running, exercise, etc., there are obvious benefits-- they just don't cancel out all of the risk from sitting. But if you sit and also exercise, you are still better off than if you sit and don't exercise at all.
posted by Maias at 2:01 PM on March 15, 2010


"We didn't "evolve" to drag plows through gumbo, to dig for rocks hundreds of feet below ground, to fish in the North Atlantic. Yeah, I hate sitting on my ass all day, but it beats those other alternatives."
You make it seem like an either/or thing. Why can't we improve the sitting situation?
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 2:02 PM on March 15, 2010


Standing in one spot is BAD BAD BAD for you. Either walk or sit or lie down.
posted by rahnefan at 2:02 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone could invent a chair that splits itself apart every 30 minutes, dumping you to the ground. Or one who seat just slowly tilts forward until you slide off. Or maybe one of those "massaging" ones that starts actively poking harder and harder until you stand up.

Or we could replace chairs with exercise balls, and when meetings get really heated people will start pushing each other off-balance and heaving their seats across the room. If that gets too dangerous, move to rocking horses.

It'll be like a giant indoor playground.
posted by sallybrown at 2:07 PM on March 15, 2010 [16 favorites]


I'm gonna keep a smug smile for spending the other half of my day laying in bed with the laptop and the internet.

Don't some Japanese workplaces require daily calisthenics throughout the day? Doesn't seem like a bad idea in this context.

Having worked in Japan, you do not, not not want to put any "required" "group" "exercise" in your workday "mandatory" "fun" "schedule." Just get up and go to the printer or the bathroom when you feel fidgety; please don't ruin it for the rest of us. Unless we can get a game of Freeze-tag or something going instead of the calisthenics...?
posted by whatzit at 2:09 PM on March 15, 2010


I really appreciate you posting this after I've just spent a day sitting in a chair, just like every other day. I'm off to go die now.
posted by Dasein at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


What about sitting in gumbo?

*shuffles off to bed to contemplate gumbo meditation*
posted by darkstar at 2:10 PM on March 15, 2010


We didn't "evolve" to drag plows through gumbo

There is something I am missing here.
posted by rahnefan at 2:11 PM on March 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


Doody. I thought I was in the clear since I'm down with exercise, try to go for a nice long walk daily (in addition to other exercise), and am moving around with babby for at least part of the day. But now working is going to kill me after all.
posted by Never teh Bride at 2:12 PM on March 15, 2010


We didn't "evolve" to drag plows through gumbo

There is something I am missing here.


Let me guess: Are you missing gumbo? I know I am.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:13 PM on March 15, 2010


A while ago Reversible Destiny, an architectural project specifically designed to address this and other similar problems, got a lot of hate around here. Too many colors or something. But this whole sitting-around-not-doing-anything thing is a pretty serious problem, and architectural solutions are probably a pretty good idea. If we build things to sit in, we will sit in them. If we build things to jump around on, we will jump around on them. We should ease off the former, and do more of the latter.
posted by avianism at 2:14 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is not exactly [warning: video] new or controversial research.

Agreed. So, um...

Any news on smoking? Still bad?


The point is that while the research is not new, doctors have not been telling their patients that the simple act of sitting is dangerous - at best they talk about weight control and exercise. But exercise is not the issue here, because the risks of sitting are there regardless of how much exercise you do. The body enters a special state when in repose - a state which is deleterious to your health.

Doctors must do a much better job of informing their patients as the researcher in the video says. And as the conclusion of the study I cited says: "In addition to the promotion of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and a healthy weight, physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods."

There has been very little public discussion or awareness of the unique (i.e. entirely apart from exercise) health dangers of sitting.

To compare this to "'smoking = bad for you' is also old news" is to not understand the issues.
posted by VikingSword at 2:14 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am going to make a wee plowshare, one that I can hitch to my fingers doing the walking, and I am going to PLOW ME SOME MOTHERFUCKING GUMBO.

Don't tell me what I can't do!
posted by everichon at 2:17 PM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Before I went to college and learned a useful skill, I had all kinds of shitty teenage jobs that required me to stand still for long periods of time.

And you know what? FUUUUUUUUUCK THAT. I don't care whether its good or bad for my body. I'm going to sit the fuck down. God I hated standing still for 8 hours. In fact, I think that was a prime motivator for my going back to school.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:17 PM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. (NEAT)
Obesity specialist Dr. Levine says America suffers from "sitting disease"--the age of electronics has left us less active, by up to 2000 daily calories, than we were thirty years ago. What we need, he says, is to get moving, or nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). NEAT is as simple as standing, turning, and bending.
posted by cashman at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


*retrieves underused exercise ball chair from under desk*
posted by ekroh at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2010


And this explains why people with manual labor jobs are so much healthier than people with white collar jobs who sit on their ass reading most of the time.

Oh wait....
posted by dgaicun at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


And you know what? FUUUUUUUUUCK THAT. I don't care whether its good or bad for my body. I'm going to sit the fuck down. God I hated standing still for 8 hours. In fact, I think that was a prime motivator for my going back to school.

I totally understand you. But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? What if instead of just standing and allowing blood to pool in your legs, you were strolling in place? C'mon, civilization evolves, and we can certainly come up with solutions which accommodate our health and at the same time allow us to get some work done. Perhaps those treadmill desks are a clumsy start, but you gotta start somewhere.
posted by VikingSword at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't some Japanese workplaces require daily calisthenics throughout the day?

I imagine it would thoroughly suck to be disabled or (non-sumo) obese in Japan. Or even worse, both. Anyone?
posted by rahnefan at 2:24 PM on March 15, 2010


Versus how awesome it is to be disabled and/or obese everywhere else?
posted by GuyZero at 2:25 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I take frequent bathroom breaks and secretly exercise in the stall.
posted by Esoquo at 2:26 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


What really pisses me off is that I was just about to go for a walk, but now I feel like I should sit here and decompose a bit longer, just on general principals.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gumbo: A fine silty soil, common in the southern and western United States, that forms an unusually sticky mud when wet.
posted by No Robots at 2:27 PM on March 15, 2010


A fine silty soil, common in the southern and western United States, that forms an unusually sticky mud when wet AND IS DELICIOUS!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:28 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: yes, everywhere they don't make you exercise as a group at work.
posted by rahnefan at 2:29 PM on March 15, 2010


Well, doctors would be better off talking to the businesses that run on the cube-farm model than talking to the relatively powerless drones who work in them. You go to get your checkup and your doc says "Listen, sitting all day is really bad for you. You need to spend more time on your feet, moving around."

Then you go to your boss and say, "Listen, my doctor told me that sitting all day is really bad for my health. I need to have my cube/office redone so there's a standing desk and maybe a treadmill in there."

Then your boss laughs really hard and says no. Or says yes, by telling you to enjoy your new job as a grocery store stocker.

So, is the information good? Sure. What, on a societal basis, will be done with it? Time will tell. My bet is, nothing.
posted by rtha at 2:33 PM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


God I am so fucked.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 2:34 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like a lot of you, I have an office job that sort or requires time at a desk. But I've been using a system for the past couple of years that helps to lessen the negative impact it has on my body. First, my team is instructed to randomly attack me throughout the day. So I never know when a trip to the copier is going to lead to a three to five minute, full-contact, no-hold's barred battle. (Before you ask, all defeated employees are given an extended break. An extra 15 minutes to set any broken bones before returning to the phones).

The second one comes from being on the 3rd floor of a building from 1901; big open spaces, lots of exposed girders, and horizontal I-beams led me to the greatest of concepts; office parkour races. I was a little worried about people getting hurt, so we underwent some pretty serious training (we watched District B13, twice) and, again, 15 minute extra break for setting bones.

I can honestly say that, injuries from sitting all day are the least of our concerns.
posted by quin at 2:36 PM on March 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


What if instead of just standing and allowing blood to pool in your legs, you were strolling in place?

Having read the article, could it be that a compromise between constant walking and constant sitting might be in order? The article stated specifically that the "damage" caused by sitting was much reduced for people in the study who had a habit of taking frequent breaks to stroll around the office, stretch and so forth. It seems that the duration has as much to do with it as the posture itself. After all, even our hunter/gatherer ancestors sat down to do things like weave baskets, sculpt clay pots and whittle spears. Seems to me like the take-away message is more like "Hey, get up and stretch your legs every once in a while" than "CHAIRS EQUAL DEATH."

That said, sallybrown's idea is awesome and I want to work there.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:37 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can't really read or draw or paint or code while walking or running. I'm not a hunter-gatherer. My life doesn't revolve around hunting and trekking all day for survival. If my body isn't well-adapted to the modern world, well tough shit. This is the world I'm living in, and I'm...we're just going to have to accept that living a certain kind of life involves trade-offs.

I exercise, and I have a pretty good diet, and I'm relatively healthy. But I'm not a professional athlete. My body is probably in a state of atrophy whenever I am not exercising, but this is necessarily going to be a large part of my time given my occupational and recreational preferences. I have to be relatively still and be able to focus and concentrate for the majority of the hours I'm awake.
posted by dgaicun at 2:38 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


On preview, I think I would also enjoy working at quin's office.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:38 PM on March 15, 2010


A lot of people are going to make fun of this, and then be amazed that someone "pretty healthy" dropped dead... exercised, ate well, didn't smoke - gosh what a mystery. The research shows that sitting time is linearly related to death from all causes in spite of leisure time physical activity.

Sometimes that "healthy" person who dropped dead had a bad health habit most people are not aware of: sitting.

I guess we can find humor here if we want to - has there ever been a person who didn't ever sit or lie down? Perhaps they'd be immortal. For now we know that every single person who ever sits, is going to die.
posted by VikingSword at 2:40 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


*pushes button, raises motorized desk to standing position*
posted by potch at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2010


Clearly we now need a well-meaning but clueless politician to start advocate banning chairs in public places.

(Also, this is why I don't give my seat up to pregnant women on public transit~)
posted by coolguymichael at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2010


Hmmm...sallybrown's idea might not be so unrealistic if applied differently. Say if there was a chime or a red light that came on after a certain number of keystrokes/clicks. But that'd be used against the employee right from the git go...you'd have to earn your breaks. On a slow day, forget about it.
posted by rahnefan at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2010


Seems to me like the take-away message is more like "Hey, get up and stretch your legs every once in a while" than "CHAIRS EQUAL DEATH."

If you go by the research, it's rather: "CHAIRS EQUAL DEATH - MORE CHAIR TIME, FASTER DEATH". It's linear, with no cutoff point.
posted by VikingSword at 2:44 PM on March 15, 2010


From the article:

Conversely, a study of people who sit for many hours found that those who took frequent small breaks — standing up to stretch or walk down the corridor — had smaller waists and better profiles for sugar and fat metabolism than those who did their sitting in long, uninterrupted chunks.

Sitting in long, uninterrupted chunks seems to be the actual problem. Even with a desk job, you can still find lots of excuses to stand, walk around, etc.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:45 PM on March 15, 2010


For now we know that every single person who ever sits, is going to die.

As opposed to the people who don't sit.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:49 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the study:

"After adjustment for potential confounders, there was a progressively higher risk of mortality across higher levels of sitting time from all causes[...]"

It's the cumulative time. This is not unprecedented, and biological models exist - example: sun exposure and cancer. There are special risks when you get sunburn - yes; so prolonged exposure in one chunk is going to be very bad. But there are also cumulative exposure risks, which are mathematically linear - more time in the sun = more skin cancer. Same here. Long uninterrupted sitting - very bad. Sitting at all - also bad, the more, the worse.
posted by VikingSword at 2:51 PM on March 15, 2010


I don't like the guy, but one interesting point about Donald Rumsfeld is he never sat down at a desk. That is, he had a standing desk, something I never knew existed.

Something I've always been curious about is one of these ergonomic kneeling chairs. They allow you to keep your spine straight, and your body weight is centered on your legs. The lack of armrests would drive me crazy though.
posted by zardoz at 2:54 PM on March 15, 2010


VikingSword: If you go by the research, it's rather: "CHAIRS EQUAL DEATH - MORE CHAIR TIME, FASTER DEATH". It's linear, with no cutoff point.

According to that link, there's almost no difference between sitting "almost none of the time" and "one fourth of the time." In fact, for active people, the age-adjusted all-cause mortality rate per 10,000 person/yr of follow up was 76 for people who sit "almost none of the time" and 69 for people who sit "one fourth of the time."

I'm not a scientist, but wouldn't that suggest that there is a cut-off point, and that it's somewhere in between "one fourth of the time" and "about half the time?"

me & my monkey: As opposed to the people who don't sit.

This is why I perform my desk job hanging upside down, like a fruit bat resting in a mango tree.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:56 PM on March 15, 2010


Someone could invent a chair that splits itself apart every 30 minutes, dumping you to the ground.

Done. It even puts itself back together!
posted by oulipian at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's the cumulative time.

So it's too late for me. But I can prohibit my children from sitting until they turn 18, and that way they can live longer than I will.

"I know you've been sitting, Little Sally. I can see the wrinkles on those linen pants I make you wear. Go to your room."
"WHEN I GET TO COLLEGE I'M BUYING A THOUSAND LAY-Z-BOYS AND SITTING ALL DAY LONG."
posted by sallybrown at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've just added a reminder on my work calendar for once every half hour to stand up and move around.

Wouldn't chair-dancing also counteract this? You know, where you bounce around like an insane person to the tune in your head?
posted by joannemerriam at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2010


I guess we can find humor here if we want to - has there ever been a person who didn't ever sit or lie down? Perhaps they'd be immortal. For now we know that every single person who ever sits, is going to die.

I knew a guy like that. Never stopped moving or he'd die. Oh wait. That was A SHARK.

I'm gonna keep accepting that I'm both going to die and sit down in my lifetime and not really care if the two are linked. What's really troubling me is that my elevator is broken and I got slightly winded walking up five flights of stairs. Clearly my toddler-calisthetics routine (that is, calisthenics done while hoisting around/chasing after a toddler) is not having the desired result.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:08 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kids have to sit for 50 minutes at a time in school. So schools are killing kids. Won't someone think of the children?
posted by misha at 3:10 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess these were a good idea after all.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:16 PM on March 15, 2010


I just replaced my chair with a Dance Dance Revolution mat. I'll let you know how this works out.
posted by naju at 3:31 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Never stopped moving or he'd die. Oh wait. That was A SHARK.

Apparently if there is a sufficiently strong current, sharks can sit still just fine. I learned this from a South African chick I used to hang out with, who was really into scuba/ snorkeling. She always took the gotta-move-or-die thing to be true, until she came over a reef, and was really surprised to find about a half dozen fair sized sharks, just kinda chilling out, looking at her.

In describing this event to us, she used a number of expletives which, and I'll be honest here, were completely new to me. I learned a lot that day.

/offtopic

posted by quin at 3:34 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


My formative years were packed full of people telling me to "sit down and shut up!"
and suddenly this (*juggles belly fat*) is all my fault?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:35 PM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm not a scientist, but wouldn't that suggest that there is a cut-off point, and that it's somewhere in between "one fourth of the time" and "about half the time?"

These are of necessity epidemiological studies, and as such are always subject to confounders. Even though these researchers did their best to exclude as many confounders as possible, it's still an epid. study. In such situations, it is always good to look at more studies or metastudies to hopefully correct for any biases, and that was the reason why I linked to several studies. Making a firm recommendation about a specific cut off point based on a single epid. study is risky, in my opinion, unless confirmed with multiple studies. I have searched extensively and never found a confirmation of a specific point, so I guess the safest for now, pending more studies, is to refrain from making a specific recommendation point. Example [emp. mine]:

"Manini et al. (21) quantified total activity energy expenditure in elderly individuals with a PAL <1>2 and found a graded decrease in mortality across the three tertiles (Fig. 2D). Their questionnaires included both nonexercise and exercise types of activity. Since the amounts of vigorous exercise and walking for exercise were not different between tertiles (21), then by default, the difference in mortality risk was associated with nonexercise physical activity."

And:

"Most recently, Matthews et al. (22) reported that there was a progressive inverse relationship between risk for all-cause mortality and nonexercise activity in Chinese women."

Still, it is important to keep in mind that we do need more studies - which then could hopefully clarify if there is a cutoff point - one interesting angle is that mortality/morbidity rates increase both for under 5 hours of sleep a night and over 7.3 hours. The latter is speculated, possibly related to what we are discussing here: inactivity physiology.
posted by VikingSword at 3:36 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love my bouncy-ball chair. (And those ergonomic chairs with the knee rests suck. They just make your shins hurt.)
posted by RedEmma at 3:36 PM on March 15, 2010


Anyone else just stand up?

That can also cause problems, such as:


I had a back issue a few years back that lead to me having to rethink how I did my office work. This meant training myself to literally write on my feet. Harder than I thought it would be, but it worked ... for a while. Then my feet started to hurt (plantar facitis etc) and my hips, which has lead to my current policy of mixing it up as much as I can. Sit for a while, stand until it starts to hurt, climb some stairs, lie down to read ...

And still every day brings me closer to death.
posted by philip-random at 3:37 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


one interesting angle is that mortality/morbidity rates increase both for under 5 hours of sleep a night and over 7.3 hours.

That is interesting, and I'd bet you're right in saying there's a connection.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2010


Here's one study wrt. sleep duration - seems closer to 7 hours is better.

A more popular account of a study says 7 to 8.

In any case, I found the CV involvement interesting as a possible tipoff that we may be dealing with the same thing.
posted by VikingSword at 3:48 PM on March 15, 2010


Another argument for Jimmy Leg-ercise.
posted by y2karl at 3:49 PM on March 15, 2010


I just replaced my chair with a Dance Dance Revolution mat. I'll let you know how this works out.

I've replaced both desk and chair with a jury-rigged film dolly equipped with a kind of harness and yoke instead of a stool. I now do my work while sprinting across the Serengeti in pursuit of gazelles. I feel a lot better, but this new movie I'm making is repetitive as fuck.
posted by gompa at 3:51 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


If humanity would just blot out the sun already, the machines can invent the matrix, and we won't have to worry about this crap anymore. Oh sweet cozy nutrient-pod...i will never try to escape from you.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:52 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want a desk with a built in leg-press machine. I can do, like, 600 pounds on one of those suckers despite being totally chunk-style. (Really! I'm hiding muscle under there!)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:52 PM on March 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I bet that the results of this research don't apply to people who sit on this chair...
posted by sotalia at 3:56 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Get up. Stand up. Now put down the Sprite.
posted by mattdidthat at 4:30 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I use a standing desk. I hate it sometimes, but perhaps it is saving my life and at least my back pain has gone away. I also notice I goof off less because being at the computer has a higher "cost."
posted by melissam at 4:30 PM on March 15, 2010


sotalia - that is probably the best chair I have ever seen. And probably the funniest Ellen has ever been.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:32 PM on March 15, 2010


How does this affect the great Standing vs. Sitting Wipe debate?
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:35 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Something I've always been curious about is one of these ergonomic kneeling chairs. They allow you to keep your spine straight, and your body weight is centered on your legs. The lack of armrests would drive me crazy though.

I... I am utterly shocked that this will be my contribution to this thread, but I can offer a report on that. Was temping in offices while in school many years back, and so the office equipment came with whomever's office you occupied. Well, this was the first time I'd seen or heard of one of these, so I was like what the fuck. But I tried it out, and it really was alright. I mean, even having tried it, I hate thinking of it and wouldn't want to go back. It just doesn't seem relaxing, yet it took no effort to sit straight. There was no way not to. The lack of arms was a bit of a weird thing, though.

And put me down for a leg-press desk, like bitter-girl.com. Have always wanted one.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:56 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what? Fuck it.

WE
ARE
GOING
TO
DIE.

THIS
IS
OK.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:58 PM on March 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


WE
ARE
GOING
TO
DIE.


Hey, you jerk, consider yourself disinvited from my 500th birthday party. Go sit in a chair.
posted by sallybrown at 5:05 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Good thing: I do stand up regularly throughout the working day, and go for a little walk.
Bad thing: This little walk invariably takes me straight into the tearoom, where I rattle the tins until I locate biscuits.
posted by ZsigE at 5:36 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Convert all work stations into spin classes.

You get to type furiously while seated for 30 seconds, and then the office trainer will yell at you to get your fat ass off the seat for the uphill climb.
posted by bwg at 5:45 PM on March 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


So personally I took this study to be an affirmation of my habit of constantly twitching. It drives my mother crazy, but I guess she won't mind the table shaking at dinner now that she knows it's FOR MY HEALTH.
posted by jacalata at 6:17 PM on March 15, 2010


Wait so no one yet has pointed out that these studies are (apparently) correlational? And they could just as easily be cast as "being healthy leads to more time spent standing"?
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:21 PM on March 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've tried to get my office to offer some options for those of us that would like to stand up to work at the the computer, but when I ask, they look at me like I'm from Mars. All I want is a high table and a stool instead of the ridiculously over-priced cubicle furniture they have everywhere. I just think better when I stand. I'm convinced it would save them money too, but for some reason it doesn't fit in their worldview. Maybe now I have some ammunition.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 6:35 PM on March 15, 2010


I purchased an air-adjusted table (Steelecase Airtouch); received it just this week. It adjusts from lower-than-normal height to more-than-high-enough standing height (from the perspective of typing). Cost far too much, but I suspect the supply-demand curve plays big into this one.

I immediately discovered that I'll need to purchase a good pair of shoes this weekend.

But the pro is that it adjusts perfectly for use with my yoga ball, my office chair, brief periods of standing, and I expect I'll end up purchasing an over-priced mid-height butt-rest chair-thing to give me a full range of support/height options.

And I will never, ever have back problems caused by working at a desk again. Let alone take the risk of being struck teh dedz! by sitting.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:41 PM on March 15, 2010


Now if I could just get out of this stupid meatbag and into the net, everything would be great.
posted by Aquaman at 6:42 PM on March 15, 2010


I normally use a yoga ball, 85cm size. It solved my back problems. Also, I think I had better abdominal muscles while using it. It was a much, much better seating solution than any conventional office chair I've tried.

Took about a month to really get used to it. Also found that I got a lot of crotch-binding if I got too wiggly, as the ball would slowly inch backward, dragging my pants up with it. Ugh.

There are wiggle-stools that purport to do the same sort of core muscle exercise; they look like they're mounted on a car strut (spring). And there are other various options; do a search of "european ergonomic seating" or somesuch. Apparently work standards are much, much better in a few of the Euro countries, and so workers can actually get this ergonomic shit.

I wonder if there are ergo options for standing at a desk. Mini-treadmill? Wobble-dome? Marching-up-and-down stepriders?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2010


I wonder if there are ergo options for standing at a desk. Mini-treadmill? Wobble-dome? Marching-up-and-down stepriders?

See the last link in my post. There are tons of options, some DIY.
posted by VikingSword at 6:55 PM on March 15, 2010


From now on I will hula-hoop while I work.

*smash bang crumple sploosh*

It also keeps my desk clean.
posted by Secretariat at 8:04 PM on March 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


five fresh fish wrote: "workers can actually get this ergonomic shit"

I think your case to management would be improved if you didn't refer to it as "ergonomic shit".
posted by wierdo at 8:28 PM on March 15, 2010


Screw the standing desk, I'd just like more frequent excuses for me to get to leave the office, more than the 15 minutes per 4 hours I'm allowed on break. I'm allowed out of the building once every 2 hours, pretty much, but there's only so much room in the office for me to walk around it. I can go upstairs to the bathroom or go to the fridge, but there's really not a lot of space or reason to get mini-exercise, man.

I wouldn't be overly concerned about this except for oh, the rampant diabetes in my family. Joy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:33 PM on March 15, 2010


This is all I am saying.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 8:37 PM on March 15, 2010


My coworkers and I use the Pomodoro technique where I work. It is super simple: 25 minutes of focused work, followed by a break of 5 minutes. You literally set a timer for 25 minutes, then when its up you get up and walk away from the screen. We use break time to walk outside for coffee, scribble things on whiteboards, discuss the problems we are trying to solve, or just make phone calls and get personal things done.

You can tweak it to have longer breaks ever n pomodoros, and make it more disciplined by keeping a log. I think it just works really well to have a routine to force you to get up, walk around, reflect, and avoid sitting in your chair pounding your head against the wall for too long.
posted by rsanheim at 8:59 PM on March 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


We the easily distracted, the nervous pacers, the ADDers, the procrastinators, the wanderers: we are going to live much, much longer than you focused and productive people. And we will fidget on your graves.
posted by maudlin at 9:26 PM on March 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Sorry if I'm turning into a broken record on this subject, but does anyone suppose maybe those hunter-gatherers had some problems of their own? Why do you suppose there were only 10,000 of them? I wonder what kept their numbers in check...

Anyway, I sit pretty much all day, but I'm restless as heck. I can't sit still for long. I move around a lot in my chair and take any excuse to get up while at work. I have an almost ridiculous sweet tooth and make no effort to eat healthy -- I eat like L from Death Note (sorry). I am thin as a pole.

Still, though I'd like to, I find that I can't spend much of the day on weekends walking. Only a couple hours, cumulatively. More than that, and my feet start to hurt, and my legs, and my back, and my heart. Sometimes, if I push it, I hurt the arches of my feet badly enough that I have trouble walking at all for a few days. So, I seem to have a fixed limit.

All I'm saying is: different people are different. A large, statistical study reporting a linear correlation is not the same as "YOU HAVE BEEN JUDGED A SITTER! YOU WILL DIE IN SEVEN DAYS!" So, I guess, if you want to make more effort to keep healthy, try to move around and stretch while you work. Otherwise don't kill yourself worrying over it. Our grandparents sat most of the day at their offices, homes, and clubs, right? And they lasted pretty long, didn't they?
posted by Xezlec at 9:31 PM on March 15, 2010


I'm not sweating it, I always stand when I smoke. And man, I smoke A LOT.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:40 PM on March 15, 2010


We the easily distracted, the nervous pacers, the ADDers, the procrastinators, the wanderers: we are going to live much, much longer than you focused and productive people. And we will fidget on your graves.

In the 70's you were called "Type A" and epidemiologists studied you because you tended to die much, much younger. So, no.
posted by GuyZero at 9:42 PM on March 15, 2010


In the 70's you were called "Type A" and epidemiologists studied you because you tended to die much, much younger.

Really? How long do I have?
posted by Xezlec at 10:15 PM on March 15, 2010


Type A-ness is only considered a risk factor for heart disease if you have the hostile characteristics of it, and JUST BECAUSE I FIDGET DOESN'T MEAN I'M HOSTILE DON'T YOU JUDGE ME YOU LAZY TYPE B BASTARD
posted by jacalata at 11:09 PM on March 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Swollen feet, aching legs and out of breath walking up one flight of stairs. But I'm having such a good time online and I LOVE my computer ... whine, whine ...

I just set my clock to speak in "Bells voice" every half hour. I'm going to try the 'jiggle break' idea ... maybe I need to find a way to set off dance music every half hour?
posted by Surfurrus at 12:28 AM on March 16, 2010


My variation on the joke:

You'd better sit down. I have some bad news for you.
No, wait.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:08 AM on March 16, 2010


So with my schedule of getting up at 5am, getting on the train by 6:40 and sitting, getting to work by 8 an sit, go home back on the train at 5 to sit, get home at 6 to sit, and go to bed by 9...

I should be fat and dead by 10pm.

Great.
posted by stormpooper at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2010


I used to have one of those ergonomic kneeling chairs, back in the 80's and even took it with me to my first apartment. It was great for a couple of hours, and then my knees would start to hurt. I often wound up sitting "normally" by balancing on the butt-rest and using the kneepad as a footrest. Maybe one of the more modern fancy ones would distribute my weight better, but I'm not holding my breath on that point.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:02 AM on March 16, 2010


You could try using one of these Arthur Ganson chairs.
posted by orme at 9:10 AM on March 16, 2010


quin: You hiring?
posted by edbles at 9:22 AM on March 16, 2010


Not right now, but I'll schedule some races over the roof. That'll probably open up some spots.
posted by quin at 9:42 AM on March 16, 2010


That can also cause problems, such as:

swollen or painful feet or legs
bunions
plantar fasciitis (inflamed connective tissue that goes from heel to toe, supporting the arch)
stretched Achilles tendon (tendinitis)
varicose veins
knee problems
low back pain
neck and shoulder stiffness
poor posture (and its effects)
restricted blood flow
increased chance of knee or hip arthritis and
muscle soreness and fatigue

So it looks like we are screwed either way.


This is not exactly true. I have a standing desk and have only experienced minor foot pain and a sore back during the initial process of switching. At this point I have no negative residual effects. I wouldn't recommend anybody immediately switch from a sitting desk to a standing desk overnight. Nor would I recommend that somebody who has prior injuries to do with their feet, legs, or back make the transition very quickly.

I would recommend that anybody interested in doing it buy themselves a bar stool or a high chair for the times when they want to take a 10 minute break from standing. I have an empty sitting desk next to my standing one (a modified podium) that allows me to sit down when I feel I need to.

Since making the transition, my posture has improved, my legs have strengthened, my energy levels stabilized (and I find I don't get tired towards the end of the day like I used to), I am easier to talk to because I can look people in the eye instead of looking UP at them, I sound better on the phone, I move around more frequently, and I look attentive as opposed to a slouch.
posted by ghostpony at 10:35 AM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


stretched Achilles tendon (tendinitis)

derail /on

This is a common misconception. It is more likely to lead to tendinosis, i.e.,
# tendinitis
The suffix "itis" means inflammation. The term tendinitis should be reserved for tendon injuries that involve larger-scale acute injuries accompanied by inflammation. (Tendinitis is often misspelled as tendonitis, but the preferred spelling used in most of the medical literature is tendinitis.)

# tendinosis
The suffix "osis" implies a pathology of chronic degeneration without inflammation. Doctors prefer the term tendinosis for the kind of chronic tendon injuries that most of us have. The main problem for someone with tendinosis is failed healing, not inflammation; tendinosis is an accumulation over time of microscopic injuries that don't heal properly. Although inflammation can be involved in the initial stages of the injury, it is the inability of the tendon to heal that perpetuates the pain and disability. Most of the pain associated with tendinosis probably comes not from inflammation but from other irritating biochemical substances associated with the injury (see The Pain of Tendinosis and Overuse Tendon Injuries: Where Does The Pain Come From? for more information).[42]
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:42 AM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Being a recreational soccer player well into my fifties, I have problems with degenerative hamstring tears and a torn acetabular labrum that have limited my ability to play. My orthopod and PT said to avoid sitting for long periods of time and told me I needed to get up and move around for five minutes every half hour. I set an alarm on my computer that goes off every half hour so I can remember to do so. Anecdatally, it seems to have helped and I look forward to the fields drying off so I can go hurt myself again, but in new ways.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:52 AM on March 16, 2010


I have a standing desk, but the slope-topped angle's wrong for my MacBook--the screen won't tip back far enough. So I open the top to get a horizontal surface. And put a small book under the front of the machine. That works quite well. I wonder if anyone has a computer keyboard setup that hangs from your neck--like a guitar. That would be cool.
posted by RichardS at 1:35 PM on March 16, 2010


How bad would standing barefoot be? I have cork flooring, so the padding is good; but I'd be completely without arch support.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:41 PM on March 16, 2010


How many more years do we have according to Moore's law to establish the capability of transferring our sentient thoughts onto a HDD and peripherals?
posted by esiege at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2010


"Obesity specialist Dr. Levine says America suffers from "sitting disease"--the age of electronics has left us less active, by up to 2000 daily calories,"

This doesn't look right. The difference between sitting down 8 hours per day and being slightly more active could be about 500 Calories per day (perhaps as high as a 1000 Calories?)
But 2000 Calories is some really serious activity - the equivalent of three or four hours of aerobics at 9 Calories per minute.

Perhaps this is the cunning "up to" which sets off bullshit senors everywhere?
posted by speug at 2:58 PM on March 16, 2010


"sensors"
posted by speug at 2:58 PM on March 16, 2010


This metafilter post has frightened me. I read it at the end of a long day spent sitting at my desk - I went and worked out, but then came home and spent the whole night on the couch, and then read this. I've been actively afraid all day sitting at work and spent a lot of time moving around today, but still not enough.
posted by agregoli at 7:26 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


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