Sitting is Death (We’re all Gonna Die!)

A while back I was talking about my aching hip/groin/glute/quad/hammie… the drifting pain that sidelined me for a bit.  Three weeks of no running and I was able to get back at it and I’ve had many good weeks of running since.

So while I don’t know what caused that injury, I do know what isn’t helping… sitting at my desk all day. I have read all the propaganda that proclaims how everyone is shortening their lives by sitting in chairs. I know that it shortens the hip flexors… but lately, I have very consciously FELT that change in how my hip flexors feel from sitting in a chair, mainly due to the fact that I have been acutely aware of my hip flexors right now anyway.

One-upping the Standing Desk comic
From XKCD.com

There are a lot of pieces showing up all over about how “sitting is the new smoking” and “sitting is the new smoking even for runners” and like any good piece of journalism they are written to incite fear and terror in us. So there is some grain of salt to be taken with that… but I’m kind of convinced that I need to stop spending so much time on my butt. Obviously I’m not going to be a weirdo that takes it to an extreme like this extremist that didn’t sit for a month.

Fear mongering or simple fact?
Fear mongering or simple fact?

I have the book Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It and the author was one of the first people to start questioning how sitting was affecting our health.

get-up-book.jpg

It’s an interesting read and I like how he breaks down a lot of the data about why sitting is harming us, then approaches reasons why people need to change this behavior… beyond the scope of health. Because it’s not just your physical well-being that is harmed. I liked the list of reasons why someone in a workplace would want to incorporate more standing.

get-up-excerpt.jpg

I would think those should speak to employers… but I think that might not be the case at my work. Or a lot of workplaces… there’s a precedent and a comfort level with having everyone sitting down. One of the facts in the book mentioned that in 2011 the manufacturers of treadmill desks said there were 50,000 desks in use in the world. Granted, that doesn’t take into account the people who have jury-rigged their own treadmill-desk setup, but that is such a low number compared to how many people must be sitting at desks worldwide.

I had to make another trip to Utah for work on Monday this week and I was kind of jealous when I saw one of my co-workers had a standing desk setup in his office.

standing-desk-at-work.jpg

As a telecommuter I am responsible for my own home office space, and my desk does not disassemble/reassemble like that. The only option that I have found that might work for my office setup would be to buy a Varidesk, which would cost $300 or $350. But making this switch is something that is very much on my mind lately and I really want one! I do sit on a wobbly chair a lot while I work (the Buoy) and it’s fantastic, but it’s not a 100% fix for the standing issues.

I found a post on Tinkering Monkey, it is several years old but it made some valid points about why people may not be using standing work stations:

  • Desks are overcomplicated
  • Desks are too big, too small or not structurally sound
  • Desks are expensive
  • Desks are fugly

There have been strides to improve these (see the Varidesk above) but a lot of those still ring true.

If you’ve got a spare 56 minutes lying around, I recommend you watch Deskbound from Health @ Google:

It’s a presentation that Dr. Kelly Starrett gave to Google employees and it’s got a lot of interesting information in it. I’ve been kind of fascinated with Dr. Starrett lately, I have a copy of his latest book Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally and I hope to actually dive into it soon. Some of the info he’s presented online has kind of convinced me that my chronic knotted back/shoulder/neck muscles is also due to the copious amounts of sitting I do.

Will it be easy to change things up? Maybe not… I have to decide that I really want to spend that money to change my workstation. I’d have to make sure it doesn’t look overly awkward when I’m in my video conferences if I’m standing. In the evenings my husband always teases me for standing or kneeling or otherwise “being weird” if I’m not sitting on the couch. The world is confused by this approach. But I really want to give it a go!

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