The secret of happiness: switching to a standing desk, whatever they might think about you…

Filed in Science by on April 22, 2015 2 Comments


Wake up, World! Sitting all day is killing you. That’s why I switched to a standing desk, and you should, too.

I’m paraphrasing Tom O’Donnell, who began his piece, “Wake up, America!” He switched recently, and is in the full-flush of the conversion experience. I switched six years ago, and my life (at least my office life) has never been the same since.

I’m not sure what this has to do with Jericho Tree or Catholic Faith and Culture, expect that global health issues surely come under the heading of a website about culture and ethics. Oh, and Blessed Cardinal Newman had one too.

This is what O’Donnell has to say:

According to an important WebMD article that my friend Tony described to me, every minute you spend sitting shaves several years off your life.

Fact: the average person sits for more than nineteen hours a day.

Fact: sitting for long stretches interferes with your body’s production of an enzyme called L.P.L., which you need or something.

Fact: even regular exercise isn’t enough to counteract the damage from all this sitting, meaning that regular exercise is stupid and pointless. (I don’t exercise.)

Fact: if you were to remain seated for the amount of time it takes to read this article, you would develop Type 2 diabetes long before reaching the end.

Indeed, sitting has been called the new smoking. The only difference is that smoking looks cool and is a great way to meet people and isn’t actually that bad for you. (I smoke.) Sitting, on the other hand, looks ridiculous and shameful—like you’re afraid to admit exactly how tall you are—and is terrible for you. The human body simply wasn’t meant to be folded up for long stretches, like a sad pretzel. It was meant to be held ramrod-straight at all times, like a noble pretzel stick.

I was once a standing-desk skeptic, too. But, after I made the switch four days ago, I could immediately sense a difference in how I felt: way more self-righteous.

At a standing desk, your metabolism will increase. (That numb feeling in your feet is your body burning calories.) You will soon be able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. You can even mash a bunch of Pringles into a big ball and then snack on the Pringle ball throughout your workday. (This is what I do.)

I used to get home from work totally exhausted. Now I’m brimming with energy. Instead of collapsing onto the couch, I pace my apartment all night long, in ever-tightening circles. I simply cannot sleep knowing that there are still people out there using traditional sitting desks!

Their resistance baffles and enrages me, because switching to a standing desk isn’t hard at all. You simply leap to your feet—preferably during an office-wide meeting—and yell, “I’m making an important life-style change because I value my health, even if everyone else is too cowardly to do the same!” Next, get yourself a standing desk and use it. It’s that simple, folks. Heck, some standing-desk models can even convert to sitting desks when needed. Which is never.

I know what you’re thinking: Won’t I look strange if I’m the only one in my office standing up to work? Not as strange as you’ll look when you keel over dead at your computer from a lethal combination of sciatica and weak calves. Look around you and you will likely notice that several of your co-workers have already died this way.

Still need convincing? Consider this: in the nineteenth century, everyone used standing desks. In case you don’t know your history, the nineteenth century was a great century that didn’t have any problems. It wasn’t until the modern era that the tyranny of sitting was imposed upon us by nefarious corporate forces. That’s right, I’m talking about Big Office Chair. Day in, day out, chair factories pump pollution into the air and water, just to manufacture sedentary death machines. With a standing desk, you don’t even need a chair. That’s better for the environment, which is another thing you can be smug about.

You can read the whole article here.

For some harder facts see the links below:

Key Findings

  • At their 2013 annual meeting, the American Medical Association adopted policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as sit-stand desks.
  • A 2011 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionshows that when workers are equipped with sit-stand workstations, prolonged sitting is reduced and mood states improve.
  • A 2010 study by researchers from the American Cancer Society and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that people who sit for long periods during their leisure time have an increased risk of disease and a shorter average life span.
  • A 2009 University of Queensland study found that even when adults meet physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health.

And see these:




About the Author ()

Fr Stephen Wang is a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Westminster. He is currently Senior University Chaplain for the Archdiocese. Some of his articles have previously been published on his personal blog, Bridges and Tangents. See:

Comments (2)

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  1. Whilst I acknowledge all the benefits you cite, I am not very good at ‘thinking on my feet’, so I think I’ll persevere with sitting at my desk. An interesting post though, Father Stephen

  2. Francesco says:

    I agree with you but i will stress also the importat habit to mantain an high metabolism during the “job activity”, for example moving any 10 minutes, or making a powerfull excercise every 20. Unless that noone can stay standing 8 10 hours that is the average work day!

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