Today as the weather starts to turn rainy and cold again, I was reminded to focus on good health and being more physical in an environment that may not always allow it.

Someone asked in a meeting in my office yesterday why I have a standing desk.

Good question, I answered. Not a Microsoft interview caliber question, but worthy, especially as I don't recall the last time someone asked.

As much as I like to across campus (when weather permits ;) to meetings and sometimes with peers and others in the company. This makes the time productive as well as provide a physical benefit. But this isn't always practical. Personally, when cooped up in the office on rainy days, I've taken time to walk the building, going up and down each set of stairs and walking the length of each floor. In 15-20 minutes, one can get a substantial cardio workout.

One of the things I like about my office is a standing workstation. In order to combat the cumulative effect of sitting (as noted here: http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/172/4/419.abstract) with solutions that are conducive with work at the office. In my case, a standing, ergonomic desk really fits the bill. As noted in her blog post for the New York Times earlier this year, Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist, calls to our attention…

It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.

Some people have advanced radical solutions to the sitting syndrome: replace your sit-down desk with a stand-up desk, and equip this with a slow treadmill so that you walk while you work. (Talk about pacing the office.) Make sure that your television can only operate if you are pedaling furiously on an exercise bike. Or, watch television in a rocking chair: rocking also takes energy and involves a continuous gentle flexing of the calf muscles. Get rid of your office chair and replace it with a therapy ball: this too uses more muscles, and hence more energy, than a normal chair, because you have to support your back and work to keep balanced. You also have the option of bouncing, if you like.

Which reminds me: I need such a desk at home. My kids are using a therapy ball in place of a chair, but the standing desk makes a lot of sense there, too.

Tags: Microsoft, health

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