Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

Summary: Add a standing desk, a better chair, or a break, to live longer

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TOPICS: Hardware
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My friend Jonathan Stark stands while he computes. While I had heard of people doing this, I hadn't actually witnessed a work setup in a home specifically designed for standing. As you might expect, I teased him once I saw it, including pointing out the tops of bookcases that he can work from, while we're collaborating on projects. I've also been asking him for a picture of him using his setup, so if you want to see one, send him a tweet and maybe we can convince him to send one that I can publish.

Of course, when you tease someone, you have to be ready for them to strike back. In this case, he's been sending me articles to a number of studies out there showing why sitting all day is so bad, including one piece that Mashable put together that highlights some stats and graphics put out by Medical Billing and Coding. Among my favorites are "Sitting makes us fat", and "How sitting wrecks your body", which you can see below.

In all seriousness, this isn't a joking matter. Many of us are forced to sit in a chair all day at work, or enjoy computing from our couch or dining room table, with our laptop. In that case, there's help for us, as the folks at the Spanish division of Vodaphone have demonstrated in the video below. This one actually speaks volumes since it demonstrates how just the slightest change in how you're sitting can make a huge difference.

If a standup desk isn't your thing, and you want to see if there's a chair that can help save you from aches and pains, I personally recommend the SwingSeat. I can't remember how many years I've been using it now, but I first found out about it from an in-flight magazine. I have to admit that I was skeptical initially but after just a few minutes of sitting in it, I felt my back stretching and started feeling more relaxed. If you're not familiar with the SwingSeat, the chair adjusts, on the fly, to your position. You can see an animation of it in action, or watch the video below.

I'm not sure why I haven't heard more about it in the press, but hopefully this article will get it back in the headlines.

In summary, sitting all day is not good for you. In addition to getting up and walking around, there are things that you can do to your computing space, to either help you stand while you work, or just make for a better, healthier computing experience.

Do you stand while you compute, or do you have some funky chair or other tips? If so, share them below.

Topic: Hardware

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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42 comments
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  • And then we go home...

    ...eat, lie on the couch, watch TV and then go to bed. Akkk ! No wonder obesity has become epidemic. Reminds me of the movie Wall-E - technology is turning us into fat, flabby, lard butts - gross. Get out there and Exercise.!
    jpr75_z
    • Agree

      @jpr75_z

      The focus of the blog is misplaced. If we spent an hour 3 days a week in the gym, ate a healthy diet and got enough sleep, I do not think whether you sit or stand while on your computer would be much of an issue. It is like solving our health problems with drugs, when more often than not, all we have to do is adopt a healthy life style, lose weight and many of our health problems will disappear. My guess is that health care costs could easily be cut in half, but the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies do not want us to do that, nor does most of the food industry.

      I just made a radical change to my diet. I had gained 20-25% weight over the last few years. Now it is all gone and I feel much better.
      Economister
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      @jpr75_z As an health professional with two higher degrees in <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #333333;" href="http://www.exercise-science-guide.com/">exercise science</a> I can definitely state how important it is to take time out of your busy schedule to exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends to do at least 30 minute cardio sessions 5 days/week to receive health benefits. 60-90 minutes of cardio per session is recommended for weight loss.
      oahili23
  • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

    Although sitting all day is unhealthy, the poster above is full of misleading hyperbolic nonsense. <br><br>I don't think electrical activity in your legs stops when you're sitting down - it doesn't stop when you're sleeping. The whole idea is that one needs balance - standing all day is not much better than sitting all day.
    intman
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      @intman
      'Electrical activity' refers to the impulses sent to move your voluntary muscles. If your legs are not moving, you are not sending impulses.

      Standing is a bit better because even if you are standing in one place, you are exercising muscles to maintain balance.
      joblak2
      • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

        @joblak@...

        Electrical impulses are still sent when you're sitting. Your leg and arm muscles are perpetually contracting and therefore sending electrical impulses. Otherwise, they'd be like jelly.
        intman
      • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

        @intman@...
        You'd have to argue that idea with this article that was used in the infographic:
        http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/56/11/2655.long
        joblak2
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      That seems to be one of the symptoms and you have nailed it on the head! You don't think! I run across types like you every day that make statements without any evidence to back it up. Not even a little diagram. Why would you think anyone would take you seriously ? I know, it is because you are entitled.
      davidphillip
    • I get up from my desk at work and walk many times a day

      @intman
      most to the refridgerator in the back of the office to get some candy or a piece of cake.
      Will Pharaoh
      • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

        @Will Pharaoh fool...I work in my refrigerator.
        Bradish1
  • why are you mean to your friend in the first place?

    And then you continue trying to bully him by putting his twitter out there to get a picture to mock him. That's stupid.

    Anyway this information you obviously posted is false and maybe another attempt by you to be a not so nice friend to your friend.

    Basics, if you sit down your electricity in your legs SHUTS OFF? Really? Why can I move my feet and legs while I'm sitting then? You need electricity traveling though your kegs to do that.
    x21x
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      @x21x The clear language that you failed to read correctly is, "Electrical activity in the legs shuts off." Relaxed muscles = no electrical activity. If you are a foot tapper or fidgeter then there would be electrical activity, but not as much as standing or walking would involve.

      The fact that you can move your legs while sitting is not the issue. The fact that if you are NOT moving or flexing the leg muscles there is a lowered metabolism; THAT is the issue. The electrical activity aspect of it is only a small part of the picture.
      notme403
  • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

    LOL Computers are a waste of time. I guess everyone will figure that out when they are all dead
    X41
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      @X41

      So,
      is your name a reference to the IBM\Lenovo laptop? (I know it off topic!)
      heathmaxie
    • How are you typing this?

      @X41
      :)
      Will Pharaoh
  • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

    Hmm.. before dismissing the standing desk idea... here's another plug for standing desks from Gina Tapani at Smarterware http://goo.gl/5nghO (The quote about electrical activity in muscles dropping seems to come from a researcher from the Mayo Clinic quoted in the New York Times. "This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops ? ?the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,? Hamilton says ? leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. " Link to the NYTimes article from May 14, 2011. http://goo.gl/XRIF5
    ilenef
  • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

    Maybe some information on where to find standup desks (that are affordable)? I've resorted to using an old drafting table with adjustable height.
    cles1
  • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

    Standing for long periods is bad for the feet and your entire structural muscles used in standing. Do not stand while using a computer for more then five minutes, if you must, follow it up with bending, twisting exercises.
    shanedr
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      @shanedr This is incorrect.

      I agree with keeping up with bending and twisting and not standing for extended periods with your knees locked, but it's been shown over and over that extended sitting is far worse for you than extended standing.
      clokverkorange
    • RE: Is sitting all day while computing slowly killing us?

      @shanedr -- really - who sez?
      ever1nose