There was a whole slew of articles this past year about how those of us who sit at a desk all day are going to drop dead at any minute. Oh, I kid. It’s not quite that bad, but the statistics, nonetheless, were pretty horrifying: Sit at a desk for six or more hours a day, and your risk of dying in the next fifteen years is 40% higher compared to those who spend the bulk of their time on their feet. That’s a sobering thought, no?
If you haven’t seen it yet, and you want the quick visual rundown, Mashable did a great infographic on the topic that kind of gives you the highlights. Basically, the human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Even exercising hasn’t been shown to mitigate the deleterious effects of long-term sitting.
And the cut-off point that I keep hearing is 6 hours. Truth? I probably sit at my desk for closer to 9 or 10 hours each day. And when I’m done, what do I do? I go sit at the table for dinner, and then I go sit on the couch for a few hours.
Needless to say, I’m not quite ready to just say “Oh, well!” and make peace with the fact that I could be sitting my way to an early grave. Nor am I feeling like I can just give up my writing career.
Longtime readers know that I am not terribly active, and my efforts to exercise more are sometimes successful in the short-term, but rarely do I develop long-term healthier habits. So any such promises to myself about getting up every single hour to run around the house or whatever seemed unlikely to stick.
Last week, I turned 40. The big 4-0! My family showered me with love and goodies, and—tucked in amongst the various just-because gifts—my husband also gave me a small standing desk for my office.
I have a large computer at my desk, but I also have a laptop. So, here’s the new strategy at Mir Headquarters: The standing desk is not nearly as comfortable for typing at as my regular desk (in order to have the monitor at a comfortable height, the keyboard is just a little too high to be an ideal ergonomic setup), so for most of my production, I still sit at my main desk. But for most of my consumption, I now get up and work from the standing desk.
That means I do most of my writing sitting down, still, but I read and respond to email and check blogs and such while standing up.
Sometimes I even work from the standing desk, just to make a point. Like now. I’m standing here writing about this, because I totally get believing that “I’m young, I’m not overweight, I’m relatively healthy, this doesn’t apply to me.” It does apply to me, and to you, too, if you spend all day sitting. I don’t know about you, but I want to be here to see my kids grow up, and I want to see their kids grow up, too. And I would feel completely stupid if I ended up dying too young because I couldn’t be bothered to stand up.
A small standing desk is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take up much room. (This one is mine, and while it’s not going to win me any interior decorating awards, it works just fine.) I’m shocked at how easily I’ve been able to incorporate the up-down-up-down thing into my day without it feeling like a major distraction. Heck, when I’m just standing here reading stuff online, I do some stretches, too.
I say this to you as a recovering sloth, in the most loving way possible: Get up.