Sitting Disease – A Follow-Up Report

Since I posted Sitting disease? Who knew? on this blog in January 2014 as a result of reading about the many ills of too much sitting and admitting to myself that I am guilty of that, the bad news about sitting has continued unabated. A few months after the blog was posted, a reader suggested I consider buying what she bought—a height-adjustable riser called Varidesk that allows you to manually raise and lower your computer for sitting and standing. I liked that there was no assembly, that I didn’t need to buy a new desk, and that the price, under $400 for the model I chose, was affordable. I bought a model with a platform wide enough to hold my laptop and my 21-inch extra monitor. It was a good decision and overdue!

As a freelance writer and editor working out of my home office, I’d been sitting in front of a computer and before that a typewriter (Google typewriter if you need to) for way too many hours a day for years. I have a good chair and I don’t experience backache from sitting, but the bad news about sitting didn’t really surprise me. If marathon runners can have sitting disease, well, so could I, even though I do some form of exercise at least five days a week, including walking, dance, yoga and weight workouts at my gym.

With my new desk setup, I use a cushioned chef’s mat, with shoes off, to stand on when I am using my Varidesk in a higher position. I have room on the riser for my tea, my cordless mouse, keyboard, sticky notes—all good—but I’ve discovered that it’s still easy to be lazy and fall into my old habit of too much sitting.

When I’m being a model desk worker, I take hourly breaks and head for the stairs outside my apartment to do four to six quick up-and-down flights. Or I switch gears and go to the kitchen to do some prep for lunch or dinner. My most clever idea, though, is setting a timer to remind me to take a break of five to ten minutes at least every hour and pick a movement activity for the break from a list I tacked on a bulletin board of specific stretches and yoga poses as well as tasks like taking out the compost and going to the mailbox. If I owned a dog, I would not need such a list, of course, as my pooch would probably be delighted to take frequent walks, especially if I brought along treats.

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