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Is Sitting the New Smoking?

August 15, 2012

Halfmoon - Is Sitting the New Smoking?

I’ve heard a lot of discussion recently about sitting being really bad for your health. Like almost as bad for you as smoking. This trend peaked when someone sent me this.

At first I railed against the idea, triggered by the dramatic quality of the title and content. But it also made a lot of intuitive sense. Around this same time, I had a couple of testimonials from people who had switched to standing at their desks.

A friend of mine has gotten rid of his desk chair altogether. Someone else said that he made his desk a standing station and he lost 5 pounds. After mulling this over, I decided to give it a try.

Why not? I had nothing to lose and would be able to either say I noticed no change, which would give me a little personal authority in debunking the anti-sit movement, or I’d have some new insight in support of the proposition.

Well, my results are in and I must say that, based on my experience, there’s definitely substance to the theory.

Though I have no idea whether the dangers are analagous to or worse than smoking (I have no personal experience to back that up and haven’t done the research to agree or disagree), I definitely noticed a difference.

Alternating between standing and sitting when I got tired, I noticed that after sitting for about 15 minutes, when I got up my heart started to beat harder and I felt a rush of life through my body as if I had returned from the dead.

Standing jump-started my metabolism, giving me a feeling of aliveness and alertness throughout my body. When I sat, I observed a rapid deadening of that feeling in my legs. It didn’t feel good.

Most significantly, I noticed a major difference in my mood and focus. I used to feel blue when I spent a few hours in front of the computer. Now I can do it without that dreadful feeling. It seems like the physical deadening I felt in my body has an emotional equivalent.

If you can adjust your work station so you can work even for a few minutes at a time in a standing position, try it.

You just might notice some beneficial effects of your own. I notice none of these deadening and depressing effects when I sit in meditation. Why? Is it because I’m connecting with myself and remaining aware of the present moment, rather than looking at a screen? Is it related to posture?

I’d really appreciate your feedback on this exploration of sitting, health, and emotional well-being. Any insights? I’d especially love to hear from you about your personal experiences with standing instead of sitting at your desk.

In the meantime, the personal investigation continues…I’ll bring you more as things unfold.

Che Nolan is a propologist with a major in bolsterology and an Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily meditation practice. He’s also a writer and a regular Halfmoon contributor.



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