So what if you site all day? You exercise multiple times every week, aren’t overweight, eat healthy–that should counteract it, right?
Not so, says a recent report by the The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Based on their research, “prolonged TV viewing and time spent in other sedentary pursuits is associated with increased risks of certain types of cancer.” And yes, this includes sitting at your desk.
Adjustment for physical activity did not affect the positive association between sedentary behavior and cancer,” the authors write. Even participants who achieved the daily recommended levels of physical activity were at the same risk as those who spent their day sitting. “[The results] indicate that the increased risk of cancer seen in individuals with prolonged time spent sedentary is not explained by the mere absence of physical activity in those persons,” the researchers say.
Besides the usual weight gain issues, the researchers pointed the finger at the fact that such behavior causes “harmful biological signaling.” In short, sitting all the time causes your body to change its chemistry.
“A few hours of sitting suppresses a gene that helps keep your cardiovascular system healthy by controlling inflammation and blood clotting.”
I recently came upon an interesting Indiegogo campaign for the FluidStance Level–a standing desk accessory of sorts. What is it? It’s basically a platform that you stand on while at your desk which aims to promote circulation and movement.
From their web site:
The Level by FluidStance is a work platform that elicits subtle, constant movement below your feet to increase your range of motion and heart rate. Developed primarily as a tool for your immediate workspace, it can be used in common areas of both the home and office, or as a complement to a stand-up desk. The patent-pending design allows you to change the overall aesthetics via interchangeable top decks, floating bumpers, and base plates.
Unlike your standard treadmill desk setup, the FluidStance Level is smaller, cheaper, and pretty cool looking. However, the amount of actual exercise you’ll be doing is of course quite a bit less.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a brief standing desk comedy interlude, courtesy of Mr. Tom O’Donnell.
Fact: even regular exercise isn’t enough to counteract the damage from all this sitting, meaning that regular exercise is stupid and pointless. (I don’t exercise.)
Fact: if you were to remain seated for the amount of time it takes to read this article, you would develop Type 2 diabetes long before reaching the end.
Read “I Switched To A Standing Desk, So Now You Should, Too” over at The New Yorker.
Standing desks aren’t a viable option for some of us–especially those that travel a lot (such as myself). I have a standing desk at home, but weighing in at almost 200 lbs. it doesn’t travel very well. So what is one to do when on the road? There are a few options when it comes to portable standing desks, including my tried and true method of stacking hotel desk drawers on top of each other, or using the ironing board as a workspace.
But what if you want something a bit less destructive and a bit more aesthetically pleasing? That’s where StandStand comes in.
A relatively new product in the world of Sit/Stand desks, the StandStand was invented by a young Harvard professor by the name of Luke Leafgren as a way to avoid sitting without the investment and bulk of a full fledged standing desk. Designing th first prototypes himself, he soon had a viable product that gained a bit of publicity through its wildly successful Kickstarter campaign.
It’s not all kittens and rainbows when signing up to be a standing desk enthusiast, as Mr. Kravets from ArsTechnica writes in his latest post “Welcome to my Sit-Stand Desk Nightmare“.
The post details the trials and travails of a man who bought a relatively inexpensive standing desk ($599), and proceeded to have issue with the motors that drove the desk lifting mechanism.
All of sudden, as the desk was rising, I heard a cracking sound and realized my computer monitor was about to fall onto the floor. Only the left side was rising. I didn’t immediately notice it. (…) My pimp ride had turned into a nightmare. The left side had risen about five inches higher than the right side.
Most sit-stand solutions have an electric motor that raises and lowers the desk surface. As is the case with all electrical/mechanical devices, sometimes they malfunction or break.
Use this as a cautionary tale–the cheaper you go, the better chance that you’ll have issues later down the road. Also, be very careful when it comes to assembly–if either side is unbalanced it can lead to an uneven work space or degradation of the motors.
There’s a dearth of information cataloging why sitting is bad for you, so one journalist decided to take it to the extreme and give up sitting altogether–for an entire month.
Dan Kois, a writer for New York magazine, decided to be the guinea pig in his own experiment to see how possible a life of no sitting was in this day in age. His tongue-in-cheek article recounts the many hilarious experiences that were a part of his quest to do just that.
I decided to spend a month on my feet: 30 days never being a couch potato, an office slug, a sitting duck. The exceptions, agreed upon with my editor: I would sit to drive (but would strive to take the train); I would sit when nature called. I would also sit to put my shoes on, I decided this morning after falling over trying to put on my shoes. I would lie down to sleep, although I surely wouldn’t need sleep, given that I’d be so healthy.
Read the entire account here.
National Public Radio (NPR) just posted a piece about the dangers of sitting, remarking on a study done by researchers at Northwestern University that concluded:
…each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get.
Scary stuff. So, what’s a man or woman to do in order to help prevent these oncoming disabilities? Simple:
Get non-fatiguing activity in as much as possible…that can be as simple as walking around the office, or parking your car at the far end of the parking lot or even just standing up while talking on the phone…
Read more on the NPR web site here.
There’s been a recent spate of articles on treadmill desks recently, including videos featured on Business Insider and Wired.
The general consensus? Mixed reviews. Seems like most people like it, but that walking on a treadmill desk is a bit much if you’re trying to concentrate on something at the same time. Just checking e-mail or surfing the web? A treadmill desk may be right up your alley. (One guy at Business Insider seems to really hate it, but I think that’s pretty extreme–although the maker of the product does recommend a break-in period of about two weeks to get used to it.)
I think that what these videos illustrate is that you shouldn’t rely solely on a treadmill desk though–there should be an alternative nearby for when you get tired or need to concentrate on something without the distraction of having to constantly move your feet. A potentially expensive proposition at around $2000 a pop for an alternative desk, but if you’ve got the money…
Multitable.com is a standing desk company based in Phoenix, AZ that specializes in their own brand of height-adjustable work surfaces, the ModTable. Offering both hand-crank and electric varieties, MultiTable.com offers the choice to buy only the steel frame and use your own work surface on top of it for a reduced cost.
Their offerings come in at a bit below average, with the Mod-E line of electrically-adjustable height desks coming in as low as $849 (frame + work surface), and their hand-crank variety of desks selling for just $549 (frame + work surface). Opting to use your own work surface will save you about $70. They also offer a treadmill setup
The ModTable’s minimum height is 27” and the maximum height is 46”, and both the frames and the desk tops are offered in a choice of four different colors/finishes. A 30 Day Money-Back Guarantee is included with all products sold, and the company offers a 2 Year Warranty against defects. Shipping will run you between $68-78, depending on the product you buy.
More information available on their web site at MultiTable.com.
Lifehacker is a well-known proponent of standing desks (or at least a well-known clearing house for articles about standing desks), and they’ve recently come out with their newest article on the matter, entitled “Standing on Weekdays Burns Calories Like Running 10 Marathons a Year“.
As the name of the article implies, it seems that standing instead of sitting burns as many calories per year as running ten marathons.
Standing caused the volunteers to have a much higher heart rate (around 10 beats per minute higher), which adds up to burning about 50 calories more per hour versus sitting. Over a year, that adds up to about 30,000 more calories or 8 pounds of fat.
“If you want to put that into activity levels,” Dr Buckley says, “then that would be the equivalent of running about 10 marathons a year. Just by standing up three or four hours in your day at work.”
And of course, it’s just better overall (even if no calorie loss was accounted for), given that sitting is slowly killing you.
Read more here.
Sidenote: major props to the model wearing high heels while on the treadmill standing desk. Respect.