Why sitting is bad for you, animated

Sitting is the new smoking. While that claim may be a bit exaggerated, it is an effective reminder to remind ourselves to take our body for a walk.

The more than 360 joints inside our bodies are also ample evidence that we are built to stand up and move. And while more offices are including stand up desks and other mobility devices, the sedentary lifestyle still dominates.

Sitting for long periods of time reduces overall blood flow, particularly the oxygen that gets pushed via bloodstream through the lungs to the brain.

So, set yourself a reminder to get up every half hour and move around. But beware of text neck.

Yet more evidence that standing at work is better for you than sitting

work standing up, standing desk, diy standing desk, work standing desk, productivity desk setup, standing desk adjustable, #productivity #lifehack #workmode

recent study done by researchers at Tel Aviv University validates standing desks.

Not only is standing better for your health, it also strengthens your focus. This is because the stress of holding your posture improves selective attention.

The Stroop effect

The researchers had university students alternate between standing and sitting while testing their reaction time to a task of naming a color. The words printed behind the color either matched or conflicted the one in text (e.g., the word “blue” printed in red ink instead of blue ink).

Participants seemed to process congruent data — when the word and print color matched — at the same speed, or slightly slower, when they were sitting compared to when they were standing. But they processed incongruent data – when the word and print color did not match — more quickly when they were on their feet.

The study demonstrates that not all multitasking crimps productivity. In fact, overcompensating for the added stress on your feet sharpens your focus. As someone who just bought a standing desk myself (I highly recommend the Spark desk by Ergodriven for anyone starting out), I believe the studies to be true.

By engaging with my body, standing improves the selectivity of attention. I also use an anti-fatigue mat (check out the Topo by Ergodriven) to mix up my stances to avoid getting achy or tired.

Nevertheless, this latest study suggests that researchers consider other postures than sitting as part of their cognitive testing.

‘Sitting is the new smoking’ 

via giphy

On the contrary, sitting is not the modern plague. It’s just the scary metaphor health practitioners use to remind us to get up and move every once in a while. They recommend standing up 5-10 minutes for every 45 minutes we’re sedentary.

The tagline caught on because doctors grew concerned that people weren’t active enough, even kids. Instead of shooting hoops, children were playing NBA 2k inside while their parents slaved away answering work emails on their digital devices. Everyone was gaining weight and increasing their chances of diabetes and heart disease.

While it’s true “the design of the human being is to be a mobile entity,” marketers sell fear.  Did you know that taking ‘10,000 steps’ was just a sales gimmick created in Japan?

A watchmaker named Yamasa Tokei originally trotted out the 10,000 steps thing in 1965. He made and sold a pedometer he called Manpo-Kei, which when repeated out loud mimics the rhythm of a walk. In Japanese this translates into “10,000 step meter.” Ads for Tokei’s device said, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”

Like everything else in life, sitting is about balance. We sit to focus and meditate. We stand to manage emails and other routine tasks. Buy a standing desk if it helps or stack some books on top of each other and make your own. Walking meetings are also known to help jog the brain. Make what you want on the campaign for movement, but be careful to align sitting with smoking when the former is a more of a preference and the latter is a proven killer. Coffee, anyone?

Smoke This

Sitting is not the new smoking. Smoking kills you outright. Sitting for long periods of time without moving will do the same. But sitting in 45 minute intervals and then getting up to take a five minute break will keep you just as healthy as standing all day at work, which probably has its own negative consequences.

Some people need to sit in order to do focused, creative work. They may stand to answer email and input data. Meanwhile, the only way some people can work is on their feet.

Marketers sell fear. They sell successful role models that worked standing up, most notably Benjamin Franklin and Ernest Hemingway. Standing up is a health recommendation, not a promise for success.

Sitting won’t kill you if you get up every once in a while, preferably for exercise.

7 articles to read this weekend

Summary: Google is evil and incredibly smart, Twitter is not dead (yet), Drum N Bass is still alive and well, Football is not life, Walking makes you more creative, as does Reading, and the why the world needs less productivity apps.

1. Google’s Hegemony

Burying the URL

URLs are the essence. They make hypertext hyper. The term “web” is no accident – it refers to this explicitly.

Google is trying to remove the URL by tying it closer to search. This is essentially rigging one of the fundamental layers of the Internet, the fact that each URL is unique. Furthermore:

Maybe I was crazy to think that URLs were a permanent part of our culture. Still, I’ll miss the damn things. Let’s pour one out for the URL.

2. Tweeting at the Twitter Range

It takes a thousand tweets to learn Twitter

If it continues to take a thousands tweet to realize the value of Twitter it will never be widely adopted.

It takes a thousand times to get into the groove in anything. Needless to say, the challenge Twitter faces today is Wall Street’s exaggerated claims about its growth problem.

As MG Siegler argues, people will continue to exaggerate the end of Twitter while it persists.

3. Goldie is Still “Timeless”

“I’m an OG Again”: Goldie on 20 Years of Metalheadz, and Turning ‘Timeless’ Into an Orchestral Score

“If we play a Metalheadz set at one of those festivals, it’ll be dead. I would say though, the one good thing about electronic music is that it opened up into all different kinds of music. It’s not just about drum ‘n’ bass, and I like the idea of that. We couldn’t get away with that when we were younger. You had to get in a box and stay there. It was either drum ’n’ bass or pop back then.”

It’s still a bit of a surprise to see the popularity of electronic music these days. But when Kanye sampled Daft Punk, I knew it was the end of Electronica as a genre.

The good news about niche music like Drum N Bass is that while more people are aware of it thanks to the Internet’s long-tail, it’s still a little misunderstood.

4. Quit While You’re Ahead

The Lessons of Barry Sanders.

He was 31 years old, just a year removed from putting together one of the greatest seasons we’ve ever seen from a running back, and still completely healthy. He was also one year away from breaking Walter Payton’s all-time rushing record.

What’s it like to quit at your peak? For Barry Sanders, quitting felt like the right thing to do. Life was so much more than football.

Barry Sanders is my favorite running back of all time. When he touched the ball, anything could happen. Perhaps he quit to leave a few miracles to the mind.

5. Walk It Off

Need A Creative Solution? Go For A Walk, Says Science

Compared to sitting, walking in any form was shown to boost creativity by some 60%—even when subjects sat down at a desk afterward.

Walking isn’t just for creatives and health types. Walking is a way to do business. Whoever thought walking would become so trendy, along with standing up at work? At least people are walking…

6. Takes Time to Make Time (Reading)

The Art of Reading, Remembering, and Retaining More Books

I look at books as investments in a future of learning rather than a fleeting moment of insight, soon to be forgotten.

I read now more than ever, at least it feels that way. Maybe it’s the endless scrolling instead of the left to right page turning. Kindle also make it easy to highlight and save all my favorite quotes and so I can keep reading uninterrupted and go back later reference.

I also think I own the illusion of reading more today because I of all the short-form articles (snacks) in my RSS and Twitter, and tweets, most of which are high quality journalism.

7. Going Analog

No New Tools

Consider making a program for people, not a program for a computer. I don’t want a new app to help me do work; I want different ways to think about work so I can get more done.

Some apps can make you more productive (see here) and see the world differently (thanks Instagram) but for the most part what’s effective are the basic tools: pen, paper, Google Spreadsheet, etc.

Productivity apps might save you time but they don’t do the hard work for you.

Why I killed my standing desk

But the reality is, sitting isn’t bad. It’s sitting for long periods of time without movement that’s the killer. In fact, staying in pretty much any position for too long isn’t healthy.

Sitting is not the new smoking, an inactive lifestyle is. My basic tenet is to walk everywhere if time, safety, and weather permit. This could mean anything from walking to work, taking the stairs to and from meetings, or just standing up for five to minutes after sitting down for an hour.

Like Mikael, I also have a tendency to focus better on my butt rather than my feet. Additionally, I’ve noticed that I zip through email much faster standing up, possibly because my brain thinks the body is in motion.

Note: As you can see here, I’m prepared to go back and forth on this sitting-walking issue.

We Tested Standing Desks—Here’s Proof They Make You More Productive

As we know, multitasking is a productivity killer, and the standing desk effectively eliminates the urge to multitask and flip between websites, email, and other distractions. “I constantly had my to-do list opened and I’d try to get through them all ASAP. The only differences being that while sitting, I spent more time on Facebook and Spotify, which shows us that sitting lets our minds wander more,“ Davis Siksnans, project manager at the Draugiem Group, told me.

Stand to focus and complete tasks. Sit when you need to brainstorm. Or just stand all the time.

I personally like to mix it up. Sometimes a simple shift in movement and change in environment just makes me more productive.

Sit, sit, and sit some more

Sitting kills you.  Even if you’re a marathon runner who sits 8 hours/day, you’re cutting time off your life.

I’m guilty for way too much sitting:  on the train, at work, and at my desk at home.  In fact, one of my long-term goals is to buy this Restoration Hardware desk for my first house so I can sit even more and write.  

My mom has been standing up at work for more than a decade.  She claims she can’t think effectively sitting down.  This may explain how she managed to push three boys outside the house into sports.  

This blog post is a declaration for me to stand more and be like my energy bunny Mom.  I will start by standing on the train’s bar car to and from New York commute.  I may walk a lot and run some but it’ll never offset how much time my butt spends in the chair.  

(post published from a comfy hotel lobby chair in Kansas City)

The cost of sitting.

“The chair-based lifestyle”

via giphy

Humans are not made to be sedentary. We are born to walk, run, and hunt. Our bones serve to help our survival.

But we sit all day long. It starts in Elementary school and lasts the rest of our lives, through work and into retirement.

Excessive sitting is a lethal activity. – James Levine

Sitting kills you. If you don’t move often, you’ll get fat, sleepy, a bad heart, and you’ll be underproductive.

If you’re not a runner, then just walk. 15 minutes of movement or 2,000 steps prevent you from gaining weight.  If you want to lose weight, you’re going to have to run and eat right.

Exercise combined with a healthy diet keep both body and mind fit.  But don’t forget to take breaks and walk about.  Thanks to Steve Jobs, an avid walker, you can answer emails and social network on your phone.  You may even want to consider standing while working.  My mom does this and remains hyperactive all day, enough to come home and take care of three hungry boys.

My favorite part about walking is the meditative, creative, and discovery benefits.  When we’re more relaxed, our perspective is deeper.  We’re more open to life’s possibilities.

In short, move.  Move more often than you think.  Your life and productivity depend on it.