Tag Archives: sitting

Sitting Kills

Here’s Something You’re Probably Not Worried About, But You Should Be

If you quit smoking or never started, you’ve already done a lot to live a longer, healthier life. But the second most dangerous activity–and the next best way to live longer– is unlikely to be on your radar.  In fact, you’re probably doing it right now.

Sitting Kills
I’ve written before, sitting kills.  Upper back pain and fear of early death after a sickly, painful life are why I built a simple stand-up desk topper for my desk at work.

Now, more reports confirm that sitting shortens your life and damages your health while you are alive, while more standing can protect you from disease, keep you thin, and make you more resilient and energetic.

Every hour you sit watching television cuts 22 minutes off your life.  Gretchen Reynolds reports in NYTimes.com:

If an average man watched no TV in his adult life, the authors concluded, his life span might be 1.8 years longer, and a TV-less woman might live for a year and half longer than otherwise.

If you don’t want to wait until you should be dead to reap the benefits of sitting less, then consider this.  The likeliest reason your friend Janet can eat anything and stay thin, while you gain three pounds driving past a Krispie Kream is because Janet sits less than you do.

That’s because the negative effect of sitting begins the moment you assume the position.  In other words, when it comes to sitting, you don’t have to wait to start getting fat, getting sick, and dying young.

Here’s what happens the moment you sit down:

  • Muscle electrical responses stop completely throughout your legs and and buttocks
  • You calorie burn rate plunges to about 1 calorie per minute
  • Insulin effectiveness plunges, which triggers your body to store everything  as fat
  • Risk of obesity and Type II diabetes rise
  • HDL (good) cholesterol falls and LDL (deadly) cholesterol climbs

All without any change in exercise or diet.

Business Insider has a great summary of the latest research since I last wrote about my experiment last September.  I made my stand-up desk for about $30 with materials from a single aisle at Home Depot.  But if you want to go even cheaper, check this out.

Standing for Something

When you can’t muster the strength to right-click your mouse, it’s time to act.

I arrived in that grim condition a few weeks ago.  Severe pain in my back and shoulder, numbness and weakness in my right arm.  About $10,000 in medical testing later, I still don’t know the exact cause. But one non-medical step I took has seemed to help.

That got to me do some digging.  I posted a frightening infographic a couple of weeks ago. Then I decided to stand for something myself. But first, some more of my findings.

Amazing Findings

What I Have Done

I made myself a standing desk-topper and brought it to work last week.  This has alleviated the right arm paralysis and severe back pain. In case I need to sit down during the day, I’ve added a bar stool to my office—but I try to use it less than an hour a day.

Those who stand instead of sitting will likely see:

  • Fewer back problems
  • Better cholesterol numbers
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better weight
  • Lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers

What I’ve Learned

1.  Make your standing desk comfortable. I use a makeshift desk topper at home (boxes, books, and the like), but it’s more difficult to work with. My handmade work desk topper measures 48”x 18”. That’s enough room for a monitor, keyboard, laptop, and two mice.  And it feels like a desk. (email me for my simple plans to make one for about $40.)

2.  If you bring one to work, have an elevator speech ready to answer questions. About 20 people have walked into my office to talk about mine, and it helped when I jotted down a few facts (which became this blog post).

3.  Wear comfortable shoes.

4.  After a two or three day break-in period, expect that you’ll want to be up and moving more often.  (I have a hard time sitting for more than half an hour.)

5.  If you work in an office, talk to your HR people about the health benefits of standing desks.  They might want to make that a wellness option.

6.  Measure your health benefits.  I have not lost any weight, but my blood pressure dropped consistently, down to 123/77 from a concerning 134/88.  My resting heart-rate is down to 59 bpm.

What Others Are Saying
Over at ZenHabits.net, Corbett Barr has a great blog post about his experiment with a standing desk.  Corbett’s about a week ahead of me, and he’s lost three pounds.
Gina Trapini talks about her switch to standing, including photos of her cool desk (that she built herself from an Ikea table).

Jason Fitzpatrick shows how to create a simple standing desk for about twenty bucks.