Sitting Standing Moving

There’s a great series of posts by Rishabh R Dassani about Sitting, Moving, and Standing. Without giving too much away, the gist is:

  • Sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to your health
  • You need to involve movement into your day
  • Standing desks aren’t really a great alternative; they have their own serious health issues

I’m someone who works from home at a sitting desk, so these posts have really hit home to me. In my default state, I sit for most of my day, for hours at a time. Working from home means I can even cook my meals in, so I don’t really need to go too far at all during the day (I try to get out of the apartment for lunch most days though, unless the weather is bad).

Though we should all be wary of folk-medicine, what Rishabh is describing seems to make some sense. Sitting or standing all day are deleterious to your health; the key is move around throughout the day.

I’ve been following his suggestions for a few weeks now and anecdotally I feel better (I’m probably not actually healthier, but it feels good to get up and moving again). Every half hour I get up and walk around my apartment for about 5 minutes. Once or twice a day I try to go outside for a longer walk (I’m not super diligent at this, yet).

This is good for now, but it’s not a long term solution. My line of work demands me sitting down, staring at a rectangle. When I heard Bret Victor’s “Humane Representation of Thought,” this part really stuck out to me (54:00):

It’s kind of obviously debilitating to sit at a desk all day, right? And we’ve invented this very peculiar concept of artificial exercise to keep our bodies from atrophying, and the solution to that is not Fitbits, it’s inventing a new form of knowledge work which actually incorporates the body.

I can’t change my line of work overnight. I can’t start making iOS apps by walking around in some kind of computational environment for knowledge work (but I imagine, given such a technology, people would still try to make apps for old media!), but I can think about it, and I can do my best given what I have. What do you think about that? How would you do your job if you couldn’t be stuck sitting at a desk all day?

Speed of Light