May 18, 2009

Stand Up or Die?

So have you ever fantasized about taking your computer and tossing it out the window?

Oops, so Sorry!
Photo: youngthousands

No? I sure have.

This usually occurs after I've installed new software that doesn't work, or have lost internet coverage for no reason, or broken the blog with some bone-headed move or another.

Instead of spending hours listening to customer service hold music or searching through internet help forums, wouldn't it be much more fun to just hurl all those misbehaving megatbytes into the air and wait for the lovely smashing sound as the stupid machine hits the ground?

(Helpful Tip: Better check first to make sure no one is outside right below the window, otherwise: awkward!)

Well, now it turns out there's a very good scientific reason to indulge in my defenestration fantasies--and while I'm at it, chuck my desk chair as well!

(Although if my chair were this cute and scrappy, I'd probably let it back in).

Anyway, a recent study of sitting and mortality found that the longer you sit each day, the more likely you are to croak.

This was a big study (of 17,013 Canadians) and followed subjects for an average of twelve years. Folks were grouped by by daily sitting time (almost none of the time, one fourth of the time, half of the time, three fourths of the time, almost all of the time). Turns out, "there was a progressively higher risk of mortality across higher levels of sitting time from all causes."

And this was true even though they took into account other factors that might affect the results, like like leisure time physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, sex, age, and BMI.

So apparently it's not just a matter of getting enough exercise. You still need to do that. But even if you do, you have less chance of dying if you don't spend all day sitting down.

As you may recall, there are already a bunch of good reasons to not sit for long periods of times. Remember Cranky Fitness recently reminded you why you should try to get off your ass?

Even if it's a very cute ass.
Photo credit: coscurro

To review: "Sitting puts nearly twice the stress on the spine as standing; slouching while you sit increases the pressure even more." Also, "when we're locked in one position, we're starving the disks of nutrients...there's no vascular or nerve supply to the disks; they get their nutrition through movement." And then there was the blood clots and flabby butts and all.

But this new study is even more creepy, if you're a desk-sitter like I am. Because dying is even worse than starving vertebrae and flabby butts!

Plus, this study suggests that it's not just a matter of standing up every now and then (which you still should do, though if you're like me you already totally spaced out last month's reminder). It's a question of what percentage of the day you spend on your keister, and none is best.

So as I read this study, the only sensible course of action is to Quit Your Job, Abandon Your Family, and Spend the Rest of Your Life Roaming the World so that You Never, Ever, Assume a Seated Position Again!

Voila, no tempting chairs, couches, or barstools!
Photo:steve phillips

Er... but you may not find that entirely practical.

Also, the only time I'm willing to make major changes in my life based on one study is if it says something I want to hear. As soon as any study, even if it's conducted by Mr. Throckmorton's Fourth Grade Science class, says cupcakes prevent cancer I'm heading out for a big pink bakery box.

Anyway. Don't want to quit your job to become a full-time desert nomad? Well, you could try a treadmill desk, or create a stand-up work station, or at least pace while you're on phone calls.

And summer is approaching! Instead of sitting down after dinner for an evening of reality shows or web surfing, you could try Crabby's favorite evening activity or get out your Wii Fit thingy or take up juggling or...

Well, you folks probably have better, more creative ideas than I do for reducing sitting time, if indeed it's now a Deadly Killer!


  1. Well, that all sounds very good, but I have to tell you that my almost 85 year old mother is a TV addict, and spends at least 13 hours most days on her butt in front of it....and she is going strong!
    I don't pretend to get it.

  2. If you work just sitting on your ass, does this eventually make you the butt of all jokes?

  3. I love the idea of roaming the world but to me, just get be to Hawaii & I would be happy! Plenty to keep me off the chair there! Well, yes, my computer locks up & drives me crazy! Thank god computers are my hubby's work or I would be dead in the water!!!

    Anyway, my butt gets to hurting so much sitting at the computer, it forces me up AND since I drink so much water (although wishing it was a cocktail in Hawaii!), I am headed to the "little girls room" enough to keep me moving! I know, TMI!

  4. No question I've considered going Rambo on my computer! It's the "time-suck" that really frustrates me! With experience, however, I've improved :-)

    I wonder if people with ADD live longer because they just gotta move around?

  5. This study is one I like, as I stand up 95% of the time anyway. Sitting makes me fidgety and I have to get up and do something after a few minutes.

    Still, as Hilary noted, there are older people who sit all the time. The study shows that standing most of the time reduces the risk of death, but nothing can eliminate that risk. Neither does sitting guarantee an early demise.

    Tom, mind if I quote you? ;)


  6. Good point Hilary! Every time one of these studies comes out I can think of a dozen real life examples that contradict it.

    I still need to get out of my chair more often though! Perhaps we can all join Jodi for a tasty tropical beverage and a beach stroll in Hawaii!

  7. You used "defenestration" correctly in a sentence! Other than my word-of-the-day calendar I've never heard it used before! I love you. And I'm slouching right now as I type. Um, busted.

  8. I'm not buying this study. I'm willing to grant that it could stress the spine, but I feel like there's got to be another factor at work here.

  9. I have an active defenestration fantasy life. Have for years.
    I get up and walk around mostly because I need to get my eyes focussing long distance instead of short or they'll freeze that way. (Totally happened once.)
    Meanwhile I orignally read it as "dessert nomads" and I wanted desperately to join.

  10. Leah, now I totally want to become a Dessert Nomad and wander the earth in search of cookies, brownies, ice cream and cake!

    Don your slankets, Crankyists, it's time for a pilgrimage!

  11. well, Im at my computer rarely except the morning---but I roll on the handheld all day.

    better fer the butt I guess but perhaps I should learn to UNPLUG (dont answer that. this mama felt so isolated when she unplugged :))

  12. Darn! I can't think of a pun worse than Tom's. Hate it when that happens.
    And Defenestration is definitely the WoTD!

  13. "defenestration" - gotta love that word!
    I am telling my boss you told me to leave and go for a long long hike. That OK?

  14. Wait, dying is worse than a flabby butt?

    I may have to revise my entire life philosophy. ;)

    So what about people who recline all day? Can I convince my boss it would be healthier if I could work from a supine position, preferably in a hammock?

  15. While it seems useful, i can't imagine walking on a treadmill while at work and on the computer. I might feel like a hamster in a ball. and also, working out next to my boss seems about as fun as going to a pool party in a bikini next to my boss. there are just some things I would not like to experience together!

  16. I knew time spent lying down was worthwhile!

    I have never wished to defenestrate my computer [patpatpat]--but my ISP? Punching bag, please!

    Dessert pilgrimage? Does that mean going farther than the refrigerator?

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  17. Well that's not something I want to hear on a Monday morning while I'm sitting on my butt reading blogs. Darn it!

    Along these same lines, I ordered this shirt that I think you may find slightly amuzing. Mine has shipped. :)

  18. So, is this why high school FELT like death?
    I guess one of the good things about having two young monkeys-er-children is that I NEVER SIT!!!!!

  19. Aaaahhh! I *knew* my computer was secretly plotting my demise...But I didn't know my chair was in on the plot!

  20. My internet crashed whilst reading this post, so I threw my computer out the window.

    I wanna join the nomads in search of desserts!!! I'm digging out my slanket right now!

  21. I am signing off now and going to the gym. I was going to work straight through the day but thanks to this post I am out of here. Oh well, I work at home so I have to come back, but still . . .


  22. At least 3 times a week I feel like smashing my computer with a hammer or throwing it off the roof of our building. As for the flabby ass, I try to get up and move around the office at least 5 times a day. I too am worried about gettin' the nasty butt from being tied to my desk and computer. UGH!

  23. Additional helpful tip: confirm that your window is OPEN before defenestration. Unfortunately that can't happen in most modern office buildings.

    I have frequent fantasies of tossing my computer somewhere. I also have fantasies of jumping right after it since it's usually my own ignorance causing the problem.

    I know too many elderly men and women who had desk jobs and sitting all day didn't kill them (... yet). In fact, most of them didn't even get the type of exercise that we think of as normal. So I'll just ignore this study and wait for the next one that tells me that dessert causes you to live longer.

  24. So now I'm just going to have to get a really tall desk so I can stand while computing. I have no urge to toss my computer.. it's a Mac. ;)

  25. We'll talk about computers when I get the new one back from the shop and see the bill. In the meantime, my slanket is ready when do we start?

  26. Crabby,

    I'm not saying sitting is good, but I am saying that correlation doesn't prove causation.

    It's entirely possible that the sitting people in the Canadian study hated their jobs, and it was their misery that caused their demise, not their sitting (though it probably didn't help).

    That would also explain Hilary's mom.

    So if you enjoy sitting and blogging (except for when you're wanting to chuck the old computer out the window, a sentiment to which I relate), you're probably OK, as long as you balance it with plenty of physical activity, fresh air, etc.

  27. I am with you on this one! I had a computer (a PC of course) that was giving me all kinds of trouble. I finally got a new one. I then took the old one out to the back and smashed it against the brick wall at least 15 times. I stomped on it. I dropped big boulders on it. All the while I would say stuff like ""this one is for the time you lost that document that I worked an hour on! SMASH!
    This one is for that week I couldn't get online. CRASH!

    I have to say I felt better after that. Man, that felt good!



  28. Alright, Crabby, flabby butts and growing thighs I can identify with even though I don't spend all day sitting! I'm going outside to work my ass off right now raking leaves so I can add more years to my existence!

  29. Oh, and I've been thinking of throwing my computer out the window, but, if I was going to hit someone, I would hope it would be the right one!

  30. I've always wanted to be a desert nomad, well a nomad of some description and now I have the perfect reason. Except of course the plane flights. Thanks Crabby!

  31. As soon as any study, even if it's conducted by Mr. Throckmorton's Fourth Grade Science class, says cupcakes prevent cancer I'm heading out for a big pink bakery box.This cracked me UP.

    And the computer I most want to destroy is my office computer. The company might frown on it if I hucked it out the window, though. (Besides, I'm on the first floor. I don't think it would be all that satisfying.)

  32. given that my stupid laptop is starting to fritz out (thankfully i have a desktop too!) ... YES.

    i prefer standing on the job to sitting as long as i'm MOVING and not stationary. i know enough people who are on their feet all day with health problems of their own.

  33. Yep you need a Treadmill Desk It's easy to put together and you can walk all day at any speed you choose and never really know your exercising. It's awesome.


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