The average American adult sits 15.5 hours per day.1 I’ve had a standing desk for almost a year and half and I plan to keep it that way. Many people don’t realize that it’s not just how much physical activity you get, but also how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of premature death.
A 2010 study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for less than three hours, while the early-death rate for men was 18% higher. 3
I could write pages about the frightening negative health outcomes associated with sedentary lifestyles. Just check out Lifehacker’s “How Sitting Is Killing You” Infographic. If Americans would cut their sitting time in half, their life expectancy would increase by roughly:
2 years (by reducing sitting to less than 3 hours a day)
1.4 years (by reducing TV time to less than 2 hours a day) 4
Many great thinkers throughout history stood at their desks, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Virginia Woolfe, and Ernest Hemingway.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the myriad reasons why you should do everything in your power to get a standing desk, but maybe you haven’t taken the leap yet. I’ll make it simple and give you the top three reasons. Here are my favorite standing desk product reviews and recommendations. If sedentary office workers would stand up for a mere few hours more per day, I’d bet the farm that over several years, our entire country would be healthier and we would save billions on healthcare costs.
You may work at a progressive office where standing desks are an option (like Google, Facebook, AOL, many startups, etc.). Maybe you see coworkers standing all day and marvel at them, wondering why anyone would torture themselves with unnecessary physical exertion and not take the easy route of sitting on a plush Herman Miller (or a cheap Staples chair wreaking havoc on your spine) for 8+ hours in a row. Well, either you’ve never tried standing, or you’re lazy. It’s okay – most people in the modern world are pretty lazy.
Let Michael Caine playing Robert Spritzel in The Weather Man ask you something: “Do you know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing? Nothing that has meaning is easy. ‘Easy’ doesn’t enter into grown-up life.”
Three reasons a standing desk will save your life and make you more productive:
1. PREVENT CANCER: Prolonged sitting increases the risk for cancer. Exercise does not undo the deleterious physical effects of a sedentary lifestyle: working out does not erase the compounding of growing fat cells in your rear, the slowing of your metabolism, or the diabetic state that your blood glucose quickly transitions into when the body has been sitting for hours. “Researchers say that physical activity, even something as simple as standing up for a few minutes, releases an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which reduces the body’s levels of triglycerides and LDL (or bad) cholesterol. High triglyceride levels are linked to cancer, and LDL cholesterol is associated with vascular disease. Prolonged sitting precludes the flow of the enzyme.”2 Wait, let’s reiterate this part: “Pressure placed in the buttocks and hips from sitting down for too long can generate up to 50 percent more fat in those areas.”5
2. PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN, KEEP METABOLISM UP: “Right after you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute.” You will burn an additional average 50 calories per hour simply by standing instead of sitting. If you stand for just half the day, that’s 200 free calories burned. We can at least mollify the fact that many of us eat unnaturally and too many calories by keeping more muscles in the body engaged for more hours of the day.
Standing is a lot closer to walking than sitting is, plus you’ll be more likely to move around. Coworkers who are standing are perceived as more open and approachable, with a tendency to more actively share ideas. This is anecdotal, but I feel more awake, more productive, and more energized throughout the day, which many others standers report, too. Sitting allowed me to marinate in workday lethargy, but standing wakes me up. Sitting encourages poor posture. Our bodies were not made to sit.
Think about all the crutches we use to wake ourselves up or to focus: coffee, a cigarette break, a jaunt of web surfing or online shopping, constant phone checking habits… Stand up and wake up. Increased bloodflow throughout the body will make you more positive, productive, and focused.
Office Reality and Your DIY Trial Period:
Unfortunately, many offices haven’t made ergonomics a priority yet. If you want to try standing, opt for a trial period with a free/inexpensive DIY setup – stack some yellow page phone books, paper reams, and/or cardboard boxes, then put your keyboard (elbows bent at 90 degrees) and monitor (eye level, no neck craning up or down) on top. Hear The Digital Dive Podcast episode on the DIY standing desk when Melanie first planted the seed in my head. Get used to standing by starting out with a couple hours per day and adding 30-minute increments each day. If you like it and you make it two months, then invest in some furniture. I was pretty psyched when I rewarded myself with the real thing.
I am lucky to work in an environment where I have an office with a door, mitigating the self-consciousness or unwanted attention that some new standers may fear in a cubicle setting. Seeing you standing will make some people uncomfortable, nervous, or defensive because of what it implies about sitting. Just smile and link them to any article cited in this post. In Part 2, I share my top three ergonomic desk product recommendations, including my own Kangaroo standing desk, my anti-fatigue floor mat, and two types of compression socks to help prevent varicose veins (which can happen from standing OR sitting too long over time).
Read product reviews of my favorite standing desk products:
DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained healthcare professional. The information provided here is meant to educate and inform but is not official medical advice. Consult your physician before making any major lifestyle changes. The opinions shared here are mine and not those of my employer.
I interviewed Dr. Carrie Madej, Medical Director of the Phoenix Medical Group of Georgia, about the health risks associated with cell phones. The Digital Dive Podcast first explored Smartphone Addiction in Ep. 28 (we discussed social etiquette for smartphones, widespread impact of mobile technology on society, and some health concerns).
This week on the Digital Dive, we discuss the way technology has radically changed the world of dating and relationships – for better and for worse. Take a walk through the good, the bad, and the ugly ways that social media, online dating sites, search engines, and apps impact the experience of romance in modern culture. Is the level of transparency afforded by technology a good thing?
I. “Facebook me.” – When first meeting, how soon should you share your social profile? Is sharing a social profile more intimate than sharing a phone number? (I say yes.)
II. Online dating websites – The popularity of online dating sites has ballooned over the past few years, and the average age of users is dropping. Melanie and I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of meeting organically vs. meeting online. Is there still a stigma to online dating?
III. Breaking up digitally – “Out of sight, out of mind”is increasingly difficult as individual online presences grow. Avoiding an ex online can be almost impossible when you have mutual friends. Listen for websites and apps that can help ease the pain.
Tips on Tap:
I. Block Your Ex – Browser add on that blocks you from seeing your ex on social media, search engines, and blog networks. blockyourex.com
II. Never Liked it Anyway – Online marketplace to sell gifts from exes that are too hard to keep. neverlikeditanyway.com
I argue with Melanie about why acknowledging your digital footprint in your last will and testament is important.
What happens to your email, social media, blog, photos, cloud documents, financial, professional, and gaming accounts when you die?
Why online accounts matter after death:
1) Wishes of the deceased: do they want the FB account up as a memorial? for how long? who should be trusted with the emails, records, photos, videos, messages, etc.?
2) Money: U.S. consumers value their digital assets, on average, at nearly $55,000. -2011 McAfee Survey. That includes photos, projects, hobbies, personal records, career information, entertainment and email.
“Online companies face a ‘patchwork of state laws’ and are usually cautious when it comes to granting access to a deceased user’s account.” -via nbcnews.com
U.S. General Services Administration recommends you set up a social media will
Only five states’ estate laws include digital assets: CT, RI, OK, IN, and ID. Some states’ statutes just relate to email, with only Oklahoma and Idaho clearly including social networking and blogging as part of an estate (well done, y’all).
The “bad actors” that Facebook targets are people with many fake accounts
As of 8/1/12, CNET reports 8.7%, or 83.09M accounts: “Facebook estimates that 4.8% are duplicate accounts, 2.4% are user-misclassified accounts, and 1.5% are undesirable accounts.”
“We want to ensure that one of the core tenets of Facebook is that you have your unique identity on Facebook.” -Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson to Business Insider
3) Facebook to roll out more Timeline changes
In New Zealand and parts of Europe, FB has started to roll out new changes to Timeline. Changes to expect for personal profiles (and probably for brand pages eventually, if the past is any indication):
Boxes below your cover image will be replaced with a simpler, tabbed design. Posts will appear in a single wide column on the left as opposed to being randomly split into two columns.
New “collections manager” lets you drag to reorder your collections, so you can put maps and friends where you want them.
In a nod to Twitter, your subscribers are now called followers. Subscribers/followers are different than friends. No changes to friends are apparent as yet.
In another nod to Twitter, your name appears in white over the bottom of your cover photo. Basic info, including your location and job, are now located to the right of your profile photo instead of below.
4) Facebook Ads, Mobile, and Stock
Facebook shares are way up ($30/share).
Mobile has gone from being perceived as challenge to Facebook to being seen as a huge opportunity.
Mobile revenues predicted to make up 20%-24% of Facebook’s overall top line in Q4-2012, up from 3% in Q2-2012.
Analyst Anmuth says mobile will generate $2.13 billion for Facebook in 2013, up from his previous $2 billion estimate.
FB mobile revenues to surpass desktop in 2014
Ads in the Newsfeed are much more effective than ads on the right side (but more annoying when irrelevant)
Facebook Gifts – predicted to contribute $1 billion+ by 2015, and 5% of Facebook’s profits in 2013.
Advertisers love Facebook’s ad exchange.
Tips On Tap
1. Home Inventory: As we begin a new year, here’s a life admin tip to ensure that your home or renter’s insurance really will cover you if disaster strikes. With camera phones and free online storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox, you have no excuse not to make a video documenting your home possessions and store it in the cloud.
WhatYouOwn – home inventory software. http://www.whatyouown.com/ Download the free trial version for Mac OS or Windows 8. Reviewed by CNET as one of the best. Why:
Purchase enough insurance to replace the things you own.
Get your insurance claims settled faster.
Substantiate losses for your income tax return.
2) AppGratis is a free iPhone app that recommends a new app each day that’s free for that day. I scored the super skeuomorphic Daily Weather app. We discuss its merits vs. Apple’s iPhone Weather app.