Sitting. Not So Good For You…

By Anne-Marie Kovacs, Chief Wife

Do you remember that frighteningly titled infographic “Sitting Will Kill You”? That was almost a year ago and it scared the daylights out of me. I won't get into to the details (there's that fine infographic for that) but essentially, the news is that we have all become way too sedentary for our own good, so much so that not even the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day can fix the damage…

Coincidentally – not! – last year, just as this news came out, I realized that I had become allergic to my office chair. I'm not kidding. From too many years of sitting, I guess. The foam inside the chair would cause a burning sensation to the point that I just couldn't sit anymore. I then bought a mesh-bottom chair and switched between that and an exercise ball “chair”. The ball took some getting used to and all improved for a bit. But within the last 3 to 4 months, sitting has become intolerable again. This time, it's just overall pain in the back of my legs, which just don't want to be in that position anymore.

Since I cannot change the fact that I need to be at my computer several hours a day, I decided to change my work conditions. By that, I mean my desk. I need to be standing at my desk, not sitting. A great side benefit (you know, besides lowering your risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes) is that standing burns about 50 more calories per hour (source). Woohoo.

So, as I was looking at the various solutions for myself, I thought that I'd bring you the results of my research:

  IKEA Fredrik Desk – Since my existing office furniture comes from IKEA, this is where I looked first. They have the Fredrik desk which can be adjusted to a standing height. It's $149, so it's an affordable option.
  GeekDesk®Though more expensive, I really like that this company's desks are adjustable and could easily convert from sitting to standing heights and back down again with the help of an electric motor. They have a programmable version and different sizes. Prices vary from $749 to $985.
  Stand-Up Station – I found this one on Amazon. There are lots of versions of this type of desk with prices ranging from about $150 to over $450. It doesn't offer quite as much desktop space, but might be good to establish the routine of standing at the station when using the computer and sitting at the desk for other work.
  Ergo Desktop – I work on my laptop, so this option wouldn't work for me, but I really like the fact that this line of Kangaroo desktops make it so easy to go from sitting to standing position, all at the same desk. Prices start at $259.
  DIY Stand Up Desk – Brandon Keepers built his own stand up desk when he could find what he wanted in stores. And he got it done for $40. Here's how he did it.

There are actually quite a few choices for standing desks, but most are very expensive, too industrial or just plain impractical. So, of course, I didn't make mention of these options I wouldn't consider. Neither am I making mention of the treadmill desk or of the stationary bicycle desk. Really? Am I the only one who can't imagine getting an iota of work done one these? Standing will be distraction enough thankyouverymuch.

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8 Responses to Sitting. Not So Good For You…

  1. Ruth M. says:

    Thanks for this great tip!

    I have an adjustable height desk from Staples I picked up abour 3 years ago to give some ergonomic
    support to my daughter and I who are on the short end of the range.

    I am going to check out just how adjustable it is, and see if I can make it a stand-up work station. I like the idea of being free to move in and out of a station on my feet and I’d like to try this out!

    What I did before, to give us good sitting, good arm angles, and a view of the screen that lets our sight fall naturally on it.

    I have the desk at the lowest height it can go.*

    We use laptops, so I bought a separate keyboard to allow me to raise the laptop (we would ideally interchange our own each) and get the right viewing angle. (Otherwise laptop use pulls users into a hunched position). The Microsoft keyboard has lots of great features for arts and media users which I’m looking forward to exploiting.

    To raise the laptop, I chose a printer stand. Testing the various stands available at Staples, this was the one with a height that produced the best angle for us. It also is one that has good aeration, with pencil eraser sized holes across the support surface.

    Our arm angles are not ideal at this desk: they should be sloping slightly down from the elbow, for the best ergonomics. To get that we’d need to use those drawer type brackets to hold our keyboard lower than the lowest setting, but this desk is not drillable. I can raise my chair–and then rest my feet off the floor on a cross bar or phone books under the desk.

    To complement the desk set up–I shopped for and found 2 chairs that were similarly customizable a) seat I height by a simple lever, b) back and arms with a screw and slider, c) arms removable (as I did mine, I like the freedom of movement), d) swivel and have (optional) wheels on the base, useful in our space.

    Re: sitting in general. I recently had a tune up! While working with a PT on a related issue (and in PT, they’re all related issues, if it’s about the body and use!) she talked to me about the angle at which I position my pelvis while I work. On my ‘sitz bones’, not slumped, but more precisely, the lower back leans slightly forward. An invisible thread suspends my frame from the top of my head.

    I am convinced that periodic check-ins with a PT who observes you, specifically, and knows this so well, is a great help to that gradual slide from awareness of how we’re using our bodies. Feldenkrais and Alexander practitioners and probably a good Iyengar yoga teacher would also be able to give the same kind of check in.

    Additional information if you want it:
    *It’s a nice wide black resin, classic looking and spacious for working on. Shallow so it fits into our room layout, in a 2 bedroom apartment. About $105.

    Affordability was key for me too. Chairs, about $85 each, printer stand: $25-40.

  2. The Succulent Wife says:

    And here’s an article in the New York Times about the same subject: In my case, so true about the blood sugar levels. I didn’t understand until reading this why the low blood sugar symptoms that have been plaguing me for years seemed to have subsided. It coincides with my getting a stand-up desk. The benefits keep on multiplying!!

  3. Liza Kovacs says:

    Ruth’s recommendation to sit on top of your sitzbones is great and crucial to a healthy posture when sitting, the best strategy to ensure that your spine is aligned and that you are not putting undue stress on your lower back by either slumping (sitting back of those sitzbones) or arching your lower back (called sway back or lordosis) if you are forward of them.

    Sitzbones (ischial tuberosities is the anatomical term)are the two protruding bones of your pelvis. If you have taken yoga this will be familiar as instructors often ask you in a sitting position to spread your butt checks away from them. If you don’t know where they are then I suggest you squat, stick your butt out and palpate down and in until you find those two bones. You can also sit with your legs out in front of you and rock side to side. You will feel them, no matter how much extra flesh you think you have 🙂

  4. The Succulent Wife says:

    And, as we were saying, see this post in Mashable today:

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