The Affordable Chair Act: Get Rid of Your Chairs!

After suffering a minor back injury that set me back a little bit, I had to re-evaluate what led to this kind of injury. I have been doing yoga for years, and the type of stretch I was doing shouldn’t have caused that kind of strain. So I did a little investigation and the answer was all around me. My work has become 100 percent online, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing to be able to reach so many people around the world and share knowledge. But is also requires me to sit and stare for 8-12 hours. Basically the opposite of what I am trying to promote.

While I still make exercise a priority, it can be hard to undo that much sitting. It took a few days off in the mountains without a laptop and cell phone to be able to see the errors in my ways. I do some work from a COOP building where a lot of start-up and entrepreneurs reside, and luckily there is this long table with a power strip on top that is the perfect height. After doing some research, it turns out that all this sitting is much worse than I imagined. Not only was it setting up my back for injury, but it was severely affecting my ability to burn fat. Here is how your chair is turning you into putty:

1. Sitting for a full day can cut down fat burning by 50 percent. The body literally stops producing an enzyme that breaks down fat and sugar. Lipoprotein lipase is produced by many tissues, including the muscle and is responsible for burning fat. It turns out that lipoprotein lipase is only produced when muscles are actively flexed; like when you stand. So when you sit, this is a major reason for how your metabolism slows down. If you are wondering why you can’t get rid of that extra flab around the middle, it’s because your ability to metabolize sugar and fat has been compromised by all the sitting.

2. Sitting becomes exponentially worse for your body. After a short amount of time, your triglycerides rise, LDL goes up, your muscles atrophy, oxygen capacity drops and the loss of bone mass goes up in women with 6 hours of sitting per day.

3. Sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of depression, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. If you think you are balancing out 8 hours of sitting for 1 hour of gym time, then your biochemical math is way off. Especially if you’re not carrying the 1 from the time you spend sitting at home.

Change Your Workstation, Change Your Life: Don’t Be a Sitting Statistic

I think we need to revolutionize the way an office operates. Our bodies can’t keep up with technology; there’s no app to take the place of exercise. Also, you ever notice how you have great conversations with people when you go on a hike or a simple walk? If you have a meeting with one or multiple people, perhaps a walking meeting is a better idea. Why do some modern offices have ping pong and encourage ping pong breaks? It’s not only because ping pong is awesome, it’s because it helps the way your brain works. It requires concentration, strategy, precision, oxygenates the body and boosts your mood; hence a more productive/happier worker. So how do we do this when all of our work is basically on a computer now and we don’t have time to step away? We do what humans do best, and try to figure out how to do both at the same time. The new designs will include various ways for us to exercise while we work. Currently we have the treadmill/desk or bike/desk designs, but I think that is just the beginning. If corporations are smart, they will start outfitting their offices with this type of equipment instead of standard desks. I guarantee this change will actually increase productivity, reduce sick days, injuries and promote a much happier team.

Suggested Guidelines

1. For every hour of work, take 5 minutes to move around. It may seem like you don’t have time to do this, but if you calculate the breaks you take to check Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Linkedin, Reddit or other sites, you actually have plenty of time. Set up a timer and make it happen.

2. Reduce sugar and carbohydrate during your sitting days. Cut out bagels, bread, chips, crackers and even starchy vegetables on sitting days. 3. Squat, stretch and move around while standing. Don’t just set up camp like a tent pole, you can get stiff standing too.

The Best Standing Desks

1. FitDesk Tabletop Standing Desk

If you have a laptop and a desk and simply want to stand while you work, this simple setup with accomplish everything you need. What’s nice about this is that you can take it anywhere, essentially making every desk a standing desk. Whether you are in the office, home or traveling, you have a standing desk. Top choice for price and functionaility.

2. WorkFit-S, LCD Laptop Sit-Stand Workstation

This is a perfect combination for setting up everything you would need in a corporate or home office. Asthetically, this would probably look the most professional. I almost bought this one last year when I was in my old office. What can be tricky about standing desks is getting the height right, so having one that is adjustable is important.

Taking it up a Notch

1. LifeSpan TR1200-DT Treadmill Desk

This is the famous, award winning treadmill model that people swear by. This is the setup for the individual that wants to merge the gym with their office. If finding time to get to the gym just isn’t in your Excel spreadsheets, then become even more efficient with your time and get your workout in while you work. This would take the top honors, but the price tag may scare some away. However, if you are paying $150 a month for your premium gym membership, then you are paying $1800 a year. If you purchase this and quit the gym, you will actually save $300 in a year, then $1800 every year after.

2. FitDesk X1

While you are not standing with this one, you will burn some serious calories. If standing poses any problems, this would be your best alternative to your chair. I can’t imagine how long you could stay on that bike seat for hours, but people seem to be pretty excited about it. More power to  you!

3. Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker

Track it! You want to see the difference in calorie burning when you are sitting vs. standing? Use this device to motivate you to keep it movin’ during the day and upload your results on your computer. Make a game out of it and try and beat your high score.

Get Creative with Your Standing Desk

My tech guy Paul sent me his setup which allows standing or sitting, with an adustable chair that forces you to use your core. You may not be able to see them, but he actually has some cinder blocks to raise the second desk. If you are making some creative improvements to make your desk a standing desk, I’d be interested in seeing them too. paul's standing desk The chair pictured here is called a Swopper Chair.