Why Sitting Is Killing You [Infographic]

I spent most of last week parked in my chair. I was working hard to finish the first draft of my new book. On the day before I turned it in, I sat at my desk for 12 hours. It was no surprise that my back was sore—really sore—by the end of the day.

A Seated Man in Pain - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs, Image #17304134

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

My first instinct was to buy a better chair. But after reading an article by Dean Karnazes in Runner’s World, I realized that the real problem was the sitting itself.

Since that time, I have been using my standup desk and feeling much better. Then I stumbled across this very compelling infographic from Visual.ly. Wow.

Sitting Is Killing You by Visual.ly

Question: What alternatives do you have to sitting all day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    It’s true that our life styles are very much different from that of the past. That’s well said through this infographic. 

    Here are some things I consider as good alternatives to sitting all day:

    1. At the office, take regular, one-minute intervals to get up and walk around.

    2. While working, who said that you should sit and work? Can’t you sometimes stand and still do the same work? Often, it works unless you are doing something that can be done only by sitting down.

    3. At home and about to watch TV, rather than trying to reach the usual cozy seat, decide to stand and watch. It has a double benefit: it helps your body. Also, be assured, it reduces your TV viewing time!

    4. When you want to buy something, try walking to the neighborhood store than riding to the mall.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I use a standup desk and am loving it.

      • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

        Taking phone calls standing up helps and actually encourages more confident presentation as well.

        • Traci Perry

          That’s a great point, Michael. For a time when I was in the Air Force, a particular supervisor made me stand during phone calls. That was more than 13 years ago, and I still have trouble sitting while I’m on the phone. It feels a little lazy. That’s funny. I hadn’t realy thought about it much until I read your comment.

        • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

          That’s true, Michael! Thanks for sharing the idea.

        • Nancy Bruning

          I’m with you!  I actually keep the phone away from my desk to make sure I at least get up to answer it. It’s funny–I used to light a cigarette every time the phone rang.  Now, when it rings, I stand up to take the call, and also to make calls.  The pacing around my home office helps me think, too.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        I like that standup desk idea! May be I will try it in my office. Thanks.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Ha! I love the “standing to watch tv” suggestion. That would totally cut down on tv watching.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Ben, that’s my experience. Try it. It works!

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    Interesting, but as an always-skeptical scientist, I question some of the data and the inferences it makes. Not sure about “electrical activity” in the legs being shut off, for instance.

    Still, I know that I do need more exercise. When I left being a pastor (= sitting) to working with at-risk kids in an after school program (= on feet), I did lose weight within weeks, plus I felt better.

    • Kathleenj

      What’s interesting is that I have been taking my daughter to some different doctors trying to figure out why her legs hurt so bad at the end of school days. We know it is worse with sitting…She is not overweight or under active. Maybe there is some truth to this theory.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Sitting for extended periods is definitely a killer. I’m relatively lucky in the sense that nobody ever hires me for anything except for waiting tables, the downside being that I’ll stay fit, live longer, and thus be waiting on even more tables.

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      Given the great humor you share with us with your responses, you could be a stand-up comedian. Think of the benefits… no sitting, and the obvious fact that laughing burns calories. Think of your audience. If you make them roll on the floor with howls of laughter, you might help them live longer!

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        Why did the blonde put a can of coke in the oven?

        • Anonymous

          I’ll bite.  Why?

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            Because someone had told her that baking soda was good for cleaning.

            I came up with another one: Why did the poor blonde suck on a dime? (Unfortunately, I must leave the answer to your imagination, for this is a Christian forum, and I don’t feel like spending the rest of my days in Purgatory.)

  • Patricia W Hunter

    In the research I did for a recent article, I read that replacing your desk chair with an exercise ball can increase circulation and improve posture. Over the past couple of years, I’ve sadly had to increase my sitting time because increasing disability has kept me off my feet, so I’ve started using an online timer (http://e.ggtimer.com/) I discovered from Joe Bunting at http://thewritepractice.com/  to remind me to get up and move around for 5 minutes after every 25 minutes I’ve been sitting at my desk on the computer. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have heard this about exercise balls, too.

      • http://twitter.com/ShellieT Shellie R. Tomlinson

        I tried the exercise ball thing myself but I kept getting engrossed in my writing to the point of forgetting about the ball. Having my chin connect with the desk several times as it rolled out from underneath me was a quick but painful reminder. No thanks. :)

  • Scott Brown

    Wonderful post… this is all the rage here at our office and with my son and sons in law.
    Here is short video clip of my migration to stand up working… I love it. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      So did you buy a standup desk? I love mine!

      • http://twitter.com/ShellieT Shellie R. Tomlinson

        At the risk of incurring blogger’s wrath if you’ve already posted the link/brand name to your stand-up desk and I just can’t find it, would you be so kind…

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          It’s in the post above. Thanks.

      • Scott Brown

        Yes, here is the one I worked up for home… I’ll post more on my blog next week.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    Sitting on a big inflatable ball  is supposedly a good alternative because it engages muscle.  I’ve also read literature that says to get up during commercials and do jumping jacks, etc.  

    Based on one of the graphics, I’d say lying in the recliner is better than sitting on the sofa watching TV.  Hmmmm.

    • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

      Coincidentally,  I just picked up my husband’s 10/11 Motor Trend and it has an article entitled “Rolling Fat – Is our auto-centric lifestyle making us obese?” A quote from the article, “Obesity is an energy imbalance, and driving is one of the lowest energy-expenditure activities.”   I guess now they need to make a standup car!

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        A Fred Flintstone car would probably do the trick…

  • SandraElzie

    My husband make me a simple “Platform” that sits down over the two handles of my treadmill.  I can sit my laptop on it and then walk at 1 mph and type.  Some companies are offering it (as a test) to their employees and so far, they’ve been more alert and have lost weight.      http://www.treaddesk.com/

    • http://williamguice.com William Guice

      We built a desk for our treadmill as well. I’ve been using it for over a year & it has made a huge huge difference in my afternoon energy level & my weight.

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        iPad on the treadmill works wonders as well!

  • Kara

    I work in an office space with two other Children/Youth Ministry leaders.  We have been using a variation of the Pomodoro Time Management Technique for a few months to keep us on task (we were frequently interrupting each other with “really good ideas”–yielding in less-than-productive-days than we intended).  However, stopping at the timer gives us clear reminders to get up from our desk every 25 minutes or so to move around (and allows us  a few minutes to share any thoughts we might have).  Instead of getting a cup of tea from the nearby kitchenette, we walk upstairs to make one (our office is in the basement– affectionately referred to as the dungeon).   At lunch time, we try to get outside for a brisk walk around the building. 

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    The only problem with the stats is that people within 15 years of dying are more likely to spend a lot of time sitting. It’s noting a correlation, not a cause. Still, I know from my own experience that sitting at my desk too long makes for a weak body.

  • Suzyparish

    Hi Michael! As usual your posts are thought provoking and informative and I always look forward to reading them! My answer to the problem is to type while on my stationary bicycle.I was able to angle my Mac to sit on the display screen of the bike and it fits nicely.There is also a good product out there which is a desk top made to sit on treadmills and bikes and it runs around two hundred dollars.I’m sorry I don’t have the link as I’m typing this from my phone at Walt Disney World! Hope you find the best solution for you. God bless! Suzy Parish.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have one of those treadmill desks. It is awesome. However, it is in our guest bedroom, which has been occupied for the past several weeks.

      • Suzyparish

        I would go reclaim that bicycle and desk, haha!!

    • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

      I think a treadmill desk would require top coordination.  As someone who has a hard enough time staying on the treadmill just walking, I think I’d have to find another alternative!  

      Enjoy Disney!  You’ll certainly get your exercise there!

  • http://paulcoughlin.com Paul Coughlin

    What alternatives do I have to sitting? – why, I just do a couple of these when my pomodoro alarm goes off:

    [not!]  :-)

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    I am always at a Piano. I think the way I’m going to be able to change my habits is by getting up and doing some stretches. I hate stretching. I hardly do it. Now’s probably the time to break the sitting habit.

  • Anonymous

    1. I try to get in a vigorous 45 minute cardio workout 5 times per week and lift weights once each week and track it on Loseit. 
    2. I wear a Sketcher type rocker shoe 2-3 days each week.
    3. I sit on a workout ball instead of a chair and keep myself in motion while I’m sitting.

    • hischildren

      Also, in a crisis we had in our company around 8 months ago, I required my 28 employees to fill out a written journal daily. They turn in the journal at the end of the week and the secretary types it into a master file.
      On Monday I walk through the plant and discuss their entries.
      This helps me catch and solve problems quickly and also help me know where they’re at personally.

  • TonyDye

    Thank you for sharing this. I had never thought about it, but now it’s one of those “blinding flash of the obvious” things. One of the first things that came to mind is the scene in “The Passion of the Christ” where Jesus is talking about the tall table he’s just made, and how it’s designed for when we’re sitting. Kind of guess that scene was’t very likelly in history now!

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniesparks Daniel Sparks

    I requested that my company purchase a sit/stand desk for me from Geekdesk.com. I have had it for three weeks and I love it! It’s the talk of the office. Since I began using it,  I stand more than sit, but it’s good to have the option.  One great thing about this desk is that it is motorized and goes from sitting to standing and will stop at all points in between so it’s completely customizable to suit the height of the user. I highly recommend it.

    According to another article I read in Men’s Health (I’m trying to track down the reference), a person who stands at work is 48% less likely to die of heart-related issues. 

  • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

    That standing desk looks like something I would enjoy.  Right now I just tough it out in my chair and go for an occasional walk.  I’m not sure I believe the data.  I’ve never heard a study recommended that truck driver’s stand instead of sit.  They all recommend they adopt a better diet and exercise more. 

  • Anonymous

    I would like to point out a grave error in the infographic. It states that sitting increases the risk of death. I dare say on average all humans die whether they sit or stand. There are a few statistical outliers (those who never died), but their non-death state is not a result that the always stood or never sat.

    All these studies and methods that “save lives” do nothing of the sort. They prolong life, but do not give life eternal. According to a major Health Care organization, over the past 100 years, our average lifespan has been extended by 40 years. Of those 40 years, five are due to clinical medicine, 35 due to basic hygiene and sanitation. Your trashman and your bar of soap.

    Beyond that, correlation is not causation. There’s another study that shows that the average daily caloric intake of Americans has increased considerably over the same timeframe. I submit that the increase in calories in the diet is more the cause of being fat than whether you stand. It’s harder to stand when you’re fat—so maybe they sit more because they ate too many Ding Dongs and can’t stand.

    We should stop trying to see how long we can stay alive. Being a self-centered octogenarian does not benefit the Kingdom of God. How about advocating that we get active doing God’s Will and helping in the community, rather than staying in shape to benefit our quality of life?

    • http://www.theombugroup.com Brad Bridges

      I think you have some good points about correlation not being causation. However, I don’t think I would equate living longer to being a “self-centered octogenarian.” You make a great point about getting active making life count though. Perhaps we could start focusing on staying in shape and staying healthy in general to benefit the quality of our involvement in the community?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Does it really have to be either/or? How about improving the quality of our live so that we are able to serve people longer and with more energy? It’s hard to be other-centered when you’re sick or not feeling well.

      • Anonymous

        To both Brad & Mike. I’m not saying it has to be both. The point is more that being active by engaging with others is preferable to being active for the sake of one’s own quality of life. Being sedentary is likely just as self-indulgent as active for active’s sake (says one who admits he’s more sedentary than he should be).

        Then there’s my general angst towards claims that “save lifes.” Lives are extended, at best.

        Mike, I agree with your point. I suppose one could say my comment was toward the value-add. “Be healthy so that you can …”

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    I tried the stand up desk thing for about a month, and I could only do it for three hours at a time max before my knees got fatigued. So then I was stuck with dismantling my temporary stand up desk just to sit at it again. I’m really curious how stand up folks use their desks for the long term. Do they use pads on the floor? Do they wear special shoes? Do I just need to power through the first few months and develop good muscles? 

    I can see the benefits of a stand up work station, but it didn’t seem practical when I tried it. Is there anything I could try that would make it better?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I definitely think you have to condition yourself to it. I started with a few hours and worked up.

      • Kim Hall

        Do you stand on a wood floor? Carpet? A special cushy mat, like those used in commercial kitchens? I have created a temporary standing desk, but find my feet and back really ache after just a couple of hours.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I stand on an oriental rug that has a pad.

    • Mary

      I stand a lot. I use music stand for reading and writing. Sometimes I rest knee on arm of nearby chair. My laptop is nearby and I walk over to it. I have laptop on 35 inch height buffet table and put it on blocks to raise it up to my height.

      A stool might help you.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Making things easier doesn’t automatically make them better. In the tech world, with the advent of fiber-optic cable, most service related items on a computer can now be done from the comfort of your chair. I don’t have to go out and actually touch the machine anymore. While this has increased productivity, it has also increased obesity. If you took a picture of our tech department before fiber-optic cable and after, you would notice a huge difference in weight.

    Thankfully, there are still physical computer problems that require a visit. Exploiting those for exercise can really help. At home, I use the 48 minute system of focused working, followed by a 12 minute break. Walking, stretching, and exercising during the break period helps get me energized for the next round.

    • http://www.theombugroup.com Brad Bridges

      I like the 48/12 plan. Have you found that this system helps you to be more productive during the 48 after taking your 12? How do you make this work while in meetings or traveling (or is it just when you are at home)?

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        The break definitely helps, especially if I stretch, run the stairs, or do jumping jacks. In my daily routine, I usually get two of these in before work. If I know I will be doing multiple sessions, sometimes I’ll start off with an exercise break and then work. 12 minutes is nice because it gives you time to exercise , check e-mail, and get a drink etc.

        Work is a little harder, but stairs or a brisk walk work well.

        • http://www.theombugroup.com Brad Bridges

          Thanks John. That’s helpful to have a better idea of how you go about it. I’d like to try a rhythm like this as I’m sure its more healthy physically than getting in a groove and sitting for multiple hours.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    I often stand up to do work because I just get tired of sitting. I should look into one of those stand up desks. I also have the opportunity to stand up and walk around if I so choose, which I certainly may now.

  • Daniel Decker

    Wow. That infographic is scary. I think I may buy a standing desk at least to help a bit…

  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    This is one reason I love my job–activity is built into my day. Our school is big and I am on the move frequently with stairs involved in most movements outside my classroom. At home I am making it a point to get up and move–we are facing some major remodeling, so I again have movement built into my day with the clearing out of a lot of accumulated “stuff.”

    I also purposely chew gum and fidget a lot; I am a good pacer. With obesity a problem in my family, all the little things I do help me keep my weight somewhat under control. I don’t freak out over the extra pounds I’m carrying–I focus on moving as much as I can and on eating good food that will nourish my body and that will not be empty calories.

  • http://robert.EpicTales.org Robert Treskillard

    An excellent topic, Michael.  The only issue I have is that the recommended 135 degree position puts a strain on your neck. 

  • Donab70

    How is using a standup desk better? Standing for anything for more than 10 minutes kills me (swelling ankles, bunions, etc.). Standing is also sedentary. I just don’t see how it is better. I have to work on my computer many hours a day no matter what.

    • Nancy Bruning

      Take a look at the infographic embedded in the story to see why folding your body at the hips for long periods is so bad. You make a good point, though about the issue of feet, ankles, etc. I think the answer may be to vary your position–sometimes standing, sometimes sitting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668327770 June JD Wilson

    I thought this image might make everyone chuckle:  http://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2010/07/sit-to-walk-station-desk-treadmill-6.jpg

  • Stacey Clark

    Something I try to do since I work at home is every half hour or so I will either walk or run up and down my staircase a few times for quick breaks from sitting.  I will definitely look into standup desks! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668327770 June JD Wilson

    They make “treadmill desks” too so that you can workout while working.  See: http://inhabitat.com/sit-to-walkstation-desk-treadmill-burn-calories-while-you-work/

  • Lynn

    Sixteen months ago I began a job in retail after ten years sitting behind a desk. I also began using the LoseIt! app in February. Since then I’ve lost 26 pounds and feel great! I thought the standing would be the death of me for the first couple of weeks, but it turns out to have been a good thing.

    Thanks for the post, Michael.


  • http://avajae.blogspot.com Ava Jae

    Wow. Good to be aware of all these facts. I certainly never realized just how detrimental sitting was before…

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    As a high school teacher, I spend most of each class period on my feet. I got rid of my “teacher’s desk” long ago because it used up too much prime real estate. The various configurations of student tables allow for “management by walking around.” Not exactly aerobic activity, but at least I’m not sitting for hours on end! 

    (Educational seminars are a different story; 20 minutes of sitting, and I think I’m gonna die! Gives me empathy for my students…)

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Maybe you could build in some ‘exercise’ for your students?

  • Janice D. Green

    It is still sitting, but I’m using an exercise ball for a chair for part of my computer time. It forces me to sit correctly and to use many more muscles for balance. It also makes me less likely to fall asleep at the computer. Sometimes I do various sitting calesthenics on the ball by rolling side to side, front to back, and in circles. I also do a gentle bounce as if I were riding a horse. I haven’t had the ball very long, so the verdict is not in.

  • Aponte Literary

    I love my treadmill desk: for less than 50 dollars I bought styrofoam insulation, cut it into 12 inch wide pieces and stacked three of them across the arm pieces of my treadmill. I put a shelf on top of that, added a monitor to my set up at a good height, and now I walk and work. Love it.

  • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

    at 6’8″ tall the stand up desk is perfect height for me to sit down and get some work done! Ha! do you know what I call a stand up desk? The top of my book shelf! When your this tall standing is equally as dangerous! ha.

    • Anonymous

      I sympathize, though I’m only 6’6″. 

      I notice you’re a father of 6.  (You’re ahead of me there, too.  I only have 5, though we have picked up a stray or six.)  My biggest complaint is strollers.  Never found one that I could push comfortably.

      • http://theordainedbarista.com Barry Hill

        6’6″ and you have 5 kids? We should go bowling! Ha! I’m with you on the strollers.. I keep on telling my wife that I’m going to weld an extension onto the stroller handle! ha.

  • http://FollowingJesusSucks.org Shon Ridenour

    I have bad feet and a bad back. Sitting hurts. Standing hurts. I need to work in space or in a swimming pool, or something!

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Jumping jacks. Every 30 minutes.

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  • Anonymous

    lots of co-workers are using stand up desks.  I’m in process of doing the same.  Great timing on article. 

  • Mike Foster
  • Jill Farris

    I try to take frequent breaks and literally get up and run around the house and up and down the stairs. Then, I do stretches similar to pre-run stretches and I especially try to stretch my arms and shoulders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidteems David Teems

    It’s one of the perils of the craft (writing), I’m afraid. I’ve written four books in two years (350,000 words) and so I’ve had little choice but to plant. Charles Dickens would walk off his nerve and sometimes go 20 miles in a day after a writing session. 

    In my neighborhood I could get run over too easy. My solution: a treadmill in my office (actual, not metaphorical). I’ll walk in intervals or sometimes one long hour at the end of a session. I walk on the average of 4 miles a day at a 4 mph+ pace. Walking works off the nerve and is a great time to process your thoughts. 

    And it’s great medication, my first defense against writer’s butt.

  • http://www.fayebryant.com/ Faye

    When I had surgery for a herniated disk, the doctor told me to specifically only sit up long enough to eat. I could recline back, lie flat or stand and walk. Sitting was a no-no. 

    On my previous computer I had a software that reminded me to get up and move and gave me stretches and exercises to do to help everything from eyes to toes. Might have to look that up again. 

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Michael, thank you for the reminder on a delayed project – my standup desk. 

  • Emily

    If you saw this week’s The Office, Dwight is in full agreement that standing during work is far superior :)

  • Alane Pearce

    I have downloaded an app for my Mac called “Time Out” where after an hour of computer activity, it shuts down my computer for 10 minutes and forces me to take a break. Sometimes I hate it (especially when I’m in the middle of a big project), but after walking on my treadmill for 10 minutes, or doing something active, I always feel better.

  • http://twitter.com/stephsday stephsday

    Can you tell us more about your stand-up desk? I’d love to see photos or a video of how you use it. 

    * Do you stand exclusively when you are working?
    * How much did you pay for the desk?
    * What features did you select? (I see there are quite a few optional add-ons).
    * What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make a purchase?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I can’t easily show pictures or a video. However, the link in my post shows the desk I bought. I can’t remember what I paid for it; it was about four years ago. I think I paid about $1,200. I am a big fan of these desks.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I have never realized that sitting brings so  much  of trouble to us.  Normally, when I sit and work in my office, I have a repeat alarm set for every 45 minutes to take a 2 minutes break to rest my eyes and relax by walk lightly.

  • http://darlenekelley.wordpress.com/ Darlene

    Great post. As a Grad student I sit a lot, so sometimes while in the library I find myself getting up with a book in my hand and just walking back and forth in the library while reading. People look at me like I’m a weirdo but I still do it and feel better too.

  • Anonymous

    Michael – have you seen Robert Smith’s office?  It’s the absolute bomb.  He can sit or stand at the flip of a switch. I try not to covet but there must be a word close to that for my emotions when I see his set-up.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I have. I love his setup. I think he has this one.

  • http://thesingingnurse.com/ Ms. Dawn, AKA TheSingingNurse

    Wow the stand-up desks are very cool. I intersperse house duties, set my alarm every hour to get up and stretch/walk, fold a load, dust etc.
    Love the infographic, Dawn

  • Mark Peterkins

    I often go for a 15 minute walk outside the office in the middle of the day. It gets the blood flowing, my head cleared and as a Christian, it’s a reminder about my greater purposes if life as I use it as a prayer break.

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  • Mark de Roo

    Having a stand-up work surface isn’t new to me. In fact, I’ve had it for 36 years.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I must confess, however, that at age 60, I finally broke down and bought a stool; fortunately, I use it less than 10% each day.

    The inspiration for my use of a stand up work surface came from the legendary Max DePree, author of numerous excellent books on “leadership.”  Like Max, I worked at Herman Miller.  One day, I passed by his office and noticed his “uplifting” desk.  I was smitten.   After all, if it was good enough for the CEO, it might just be good enough for me.  It sure was.

    Mark de Roo

  • Denise Green

    After a car accident and broken back, my company at the time (Oracle) bought me a standing desk and I still have one as a business owner. I love to fidget which I think actually works to my body’s benefit. I would love to see an infographic on sleep deprivation so I could share it with their clients. I love how quickly and powerfully this one conveys a message (so you don’t have to sit long to read it)

    • Mpamber

      I am have nerve pain condition that makes it uncomfortable to sit. I have a music stand for desk. It is adjustable for height and tilt. I do fidget and feel more comfortable with some movement. I have even gone to movies and stand most of the time. I go in back of theater. No one seems to notice.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen people use standing desks to address back problems. I’d be interested in hearing from people who use them and how they work for them.
    Personally I try to get up hourly to take a short walk to talk to someone, grab a drink, or whatever excuse to get my blood circulating.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joy-Carey/100003065558687 Joy Carey

    I’m a personal trainer in Philadelphia at Radius Fitness, LLC.  We have had clients lose 100+ lbs.  By far, this is attributed to what is done outside of exercising.  We encourage treadmill desks….so much so that we go to our clients work site and develop a plan to make them desk specific to his/her atmosphere at work.  The results are astounding!

  • Courtney Walsh

    I just tweeted about this yesterday! Working on my edits and I do need to be in front of the computer…I can’t wait to read through these comments for alternatives…the pain was pretty bad yesterday (back and neck!) Thank you so much for posting this!!

  • Garryhuber

    A stand-up desk option is a drafting table.  You can find plenty of them on Craigslist.  They are designed to raise and lower (and tilt, but you won’t want to do that).  Some are manual lift (counter balanced) and some are electric motor.  They are the best of both worlds.  Raise them when you want to stand up, lower them when you want or need to sit.  I purchased on with and electric motor.  It has plenty of surface space and looks great.

  • nancercize

    Hemmingway is reported to have said that we should write standing up and edit sitting down.  This has to do with the thought process and time devoted to it, but could be words to live by.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      That’s a great thought!

  • http://twitter.com/ShellieT Shellie R. Tomlinson

    Oh, puleease disregard and forgive. I missed the hyperlink first time around. 

  • robgilgan

    I use a stand up workstation – $150 at Ikea.It has plenty of workspace, accommodates dual monitors nicely. Much better ergonomics than sitting. Totally different experience – better for your body and productivity. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Can you reply with a link to the desk? i can’t find it on the Ikea website.

  • robgilgan
    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for posting that link.

  • Dmpete316

    Sitting has been proven to be a deadly activity.  Scientists have proven that 100% of all people who sit will die.

    Be careful when sitting.  Of course standing can cause problems as well.

    David Peterson

  • http://medicaltranscriptionhelpdesk.com Jennifer

    I am a medical transcriptionist and work at computer 8 hours and then move on to working on a website for another  4 hours per day.  I had no idea that 135 degrees was the way to sit on my chair.  I always thought 90 degrees was the goal.  Thank you for the information and I will pass it on. 

  • http://workoptions.com/ Pat Katepoo

    On *some* days, I employ the Pomodoro Technique of getting things done (25 minutes working/5 minutes break). I make it a point to do something movement-based during the 5-minute breaks.

  • http://www.directoryoffargomoorhead.com Becky

    I just retired from a job where I sat at my desk for 9 hours a day.  Now I do full-time day care for my grandkids.  I knew I felt better.  Now I know why!  I am on my feet and running after them (2-4- &6-years-old) for those same 9 hours!

  • http://www.bertadickerson.com Berta

    As a quadriplegic, I lay in bed at an angle and my laptop table is angled toward me. It’s much more comfortable than sitting up in my wheelchair.

  • Ryan Ferrier

    I love using a standing desk. You can find fairly cheap easy to set up solutions here: http://www.uncagedergonomics.com/workez/combo-1.html

  • http://twitter.com/RatedGRomance Gregory Blake

    The sit vs. move issue is something I deal with daily as a teacher. Basic summary: I try to make sure my students get a chance to move.

    That said, if you are stuck sitting, I discovered a trick that literally cured years of lower back pain for me – I started sitting on a pilates ball. It takes a while to get used to, and frankly looks goofy, but I went from constant back pain to virtually none in only a couple of weeks! Truly amazing.

    Hints: 1) Proper sizing/inflation is critical. 2) Get a slow deflation ball. Crashing to the floor from a popping ball kind of defeats the purpose. Been there. Done that. Don’t want to do it again. :)

    Very cool infographic.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    That’s a pretty amazing infographic!  Scary how bad sitting can be for a person.  I know I’ll be standing up more often.

  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    Wow! That infograph about sitting is scary. I’m already taking breaks but it reinforces the importance of taking breaks more. I discovered a cool free tool that reminds me  to stop at whatever intervals I set it. http://www.workrave.com/ It will even lock up my computer until I take my break. At the end of the day, it tells me when I’ve been on the computer enough for the day. :-)

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Interesting piece and now I have an answer for my wife when she asks, “Why are you standing to write checks?” I tend to break up my day and my writing with home activities (cleaning up the kitchen; washing, drying, and putting away clothes; walking the dog). Now I’ll move my computer to the kitchen counter and see how that works as well.

  • Rob Sorbo

    I use a desktop at work and my cubicle furniture isn’t flexible enough to accommodate standing.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    As I’m the IT guy at work, I have to be in front of my computer most of the day. However, I try to get up and walk around the plant ever so often. Gets the blood flowing and hopefully helps alleviate some of these issues.

  • Cfpagels

    I alternate between sitting, standing, and moving throughout the day.  I have rheumatoid arthritis and I can’t sit for very long, nor move too much, nor stand too long either.  But by balancing them all out I can be more effective when I am able to sit and type.  If I have something I must get done I sometimes stand and type on an island or on the exercise bike while riding, the latter being a little tricky as I balance the laptop on the handlebars.

  • Gzwart01

    Set a timer and get up and stretch every 20min….that’s what my chiropractor told me to do….

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      I’m going to do that. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Travis Peterson

    Funny – I read this post today and almost all day Friday I was on phone calls, many of which for some random reason took place while I was walking between meetings, or just happened to be on my feet.  I was more productive, the calls were more focused, and in my line of work (public relations / media outreach) that makes a big difference.  Great post and I’m going to look at a standup desk.  My headset for phone calls will get dusted off, too. 

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Is there a standing family supper table?

  • Barbara @ www.therextras.com

    OutSTANDing post,  Michael!

  • http://www.extremejohn.com/ Extreme John

    Very interesting article. I have now learned more about what bad effects sitting during the whole day would give you. I know sitting for 3 hours or more could threaten your life. I also agree that although your work requires sitting, you should take time to stand up and maybe stroll around or just simply stretch out your body. Sitting can really contribute to your daily stresses that’s why it is important to know this information. 

  • http://twitter.com/Teeweezee Toyin Agunbiade

    Wow…now I know why my back always feels like its got lead in it. As a student, I sit practically all day. When I study, at classes, on the bus, at seminars…the list is endless. I always tired too. The only time I stand is on Sundays when I serve coffee at church. I don’t know where to get a stand up desk but I am surely gonna do what  Michael Thompson suggested.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t feel right if I sit down too long. At home, for tasks I can use my iPad for, I’ll take it and pace around the room, or put it on a dresser and stand up to work. At work I’ll tilt my monitors up and stand, but I still have to bend down to use the keyboard and mouse. I wish I could get a stand up desk for work.

  • Steve

    your shit is sooo illogical it is killing me.


  • Craig Grella

    Ahh, so true. I may have left a similar comment on another one of your blog posts, Michael, but I read this book a few years back that speaks about exercise and the brain, anthropologically. It’s called brain rules by John Medina – i did a review on it here: http://daddybydefault.com/brain-rules-12-principles-for-surviving-and-thriving-at-work-home-and-school/. The author advocates for an entirely new way of working, and even a new way of teaching children in schools, with exercise and nap time, as opposed to 8 hours of sitting in classroom type of learning or sitting in a cubicle. It’s a brilliant read.

  • Anonymous

    I have noticed sitting down all day drains your energy and motivation. I’m making it a point to stand up or take a walk through out the day. Great post Mike.

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  • Erica Harless

    I have the option to use a stand-up desk at work and rarely use it.  After reading this post, I’m using it now! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Jack Lynady

    I tell my patients to take breaks from sitting every 20 minutes. Just stand up behind your desk and do a “marching in place” type exercise. Be sure to lift each leg to about a 90′ angle. Just do it about 10 times and then sit and get back to work. It will make a huge difference. P.S. I am a chiropractor in addition to being a world renowned blogger. ;)

  • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

    Michael, did you see NBC’s bit on The Office this last week on the standing desk? I thought it was hilarious.


    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Whoops…wrong link. My bad. Here’s the right one: http://www.nbc.com/the-office/video/this-will-not-stand/1371438/

  • Anonymous

    My problem is that standing a lot tends to make my back, knees, and hips hurt, even with the obvious good shoes, soft area when I’m standing, etc.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder what effect sitting in a rocker or sitting in a swing has…?

  • http://peppervirtualassistant.com/index.php Jean Tupas

    I am dumbfounded after reading this post. I didn’t know sitting can actually kill until I read this. I have got to stop enjoying the pleasure of sitting. Okay, time to get moving!!! Thanks for this post.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Michael. Side note question about your new book “Platform”. Will it also be released in Kindle format?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, it will simultaneously be released on print and all major e-book formats. In fact, it is for sale now in the iBooks store.

  • Dave Musteric

    I do push-ups.

  • Jonibh

    Thanks for the post. I’m always looking for alternatives to spending 10-14 hours at a desk–or some writing sprees that can have me sitting for days on end with interruptions only to sleep and eat. I love the idea of standing, except that I have stenosis and problems with leg swelling and bad veins, so obviously that won’t work.

    Frequent breaks, stretching and even running up and down the stairs works well for me. Sometimes I’ll purposefully use a restroom on a different floor at home even, just for the movement. Loading the dishwater, doing loads of laundry and other household chairs gives me opportunities to stretch–as do quick visit with my toddler grandchildren :)

    If I had known 10 years ago what I do now about spinal compression, degenerative disc disease, and other spinal deficiencies provoked by prolonged sitting, I might have been more careful.

  • http://www.thebeautyofknowledge.com/ Plastic Surgeon

    Good points . I especially like your point about responding to comments and trying to promote the guest post on stumbleupon and other social media sites. The more you give back the more writing opportunities you will get.

  • ElleX

    Wow.  Great incentive to get moving!

  • http://youthnativity.org Christopher Wesley

    Interesting article.  As a staff we incorporate stand up meetings, what we’ve found is the meeting runs quicker, probably because people are more alert and get tired if the meeting runs too long.  

  • Shannon Topham

    Would you recommend a stand up desk for long periods of writing? 
    I wonder how standup desks might work in a classroom?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You can alternate or have a stool. My experience is that you get used to standing over time and can go for longer periods.

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  • http://archersinsa.blogspot.com Clint

    I started my standing desk with a temporary raised platform. I feel great. I stand barefoot and then step into cushioned flip-flops every other hour. Outstanding suggestion (pardon the pun).

  • http://www.johnmaxwellgroup.com/davidkosberg David kosberg

    Wow, never thought of this.  I was super active when I was young but my career keeps me at bay now.  Love the idea of a stand up desk.  Where can you get something like that?  Office Depot.  I’m wondering what the best or most effective desk would be?

  • http://community.acstechnologies.com/ Eleanor Pierce

    This is really interesting! I recently took a job far from my home, so I also sit for two hours in my car on top of the desk job, and I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in how my body feels. It’s awful!

    What I really want is a treadmill desk – I read about it in the newspaper I used to work for:


  • http://www.distractedbyprayer.blogspot.com Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer

    My dogs remind me to take frequent breaks.  One of the fun parts of working from home is taking a few minutes now and then to throw the ball or take them for a quick walk.
    Even short bursts of activity leave me feeling refreshed and more creative.

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  • Pwilson67

    Intriguing stats and certainly plausible, but I always like to see such assertions backed up with solid references to the source or study that produced them. As I look around at my coworkers, especially those a decade or more older than I, it’s apparent the toll that an inactive lifestyle takes. Nevertheless, I’m reluctant to accept stats that are just offered without backup evidence.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. That would have been helpful.

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  • jon

    I had been considering switching to a standing workstation for several years. While I exercise regularly, the recent statistics regarding sitting were alarming. I bought an inexpensive (~$75) platform that goes on top of my existing desk. It works great and I haven’t looked back since. With an hour commute roundtrip and one or two (seated) meetings per day, I figure that is plenty of time to be seated.

  • Stanleyleverlock

    Tragically, many people do not pay enough attention to one of the most viscous killers of our time …standing. 

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  • Becky Blitch

    Michael, I’m a huge fan of your blog, and of your thoughts on leadership. So please take this criticism with the spirit of growth/awareness that it is shared: 

    This headline? *Beyond* offensive. As someone living with a neuromuscular disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II [Cliffs Notes: I have the physical functionality of a mid-level quad but full sensation], my choices are to sit or to waste away in bed. Sitting — especially in the seating system I currently have, which essentially creates an exoskeleton for my pelvis, torso, head/neck, and shoulders, has *saved* my life. Posturally, it allows me to breathe more deeply and be safer as I go about my life; emotionally and socially, my chair gives me independence and courage. It is, metaphorically, my legs. Sitting is NOT killing me!

    Why should this matter to you?
    1: I’m the one person who’s taking the time to comment, but there are surely many more of us out there. 
    2: As a (lapsed but planning a relaunch) blogger myself, I find myself giving you a little less social standing as I gather blogs to link to.
    3: I’ve been reading your site for awhile and therefore am not going to let this one blunder turn me off, but if I’d stumbled on your site through a google and then seen this at the top of your most recent posts? No bookmark for you, my friend.
    4: Your brand is about thoughtful, inclusive, progressive leadership. Using language that so crassly excludes and demeans the experiences of folks with unconventional bodies is *so* last century!

    How can you fix it? (Or, how can you do it better next time?)
    1: Headline (with weasel words): “Why sitting might be killing you” 
    2: Headline (slightly rewritten, no weasel words): “How your office chair is killing you”
    3: Body disclaimer: “Obviously not everyone is capable of standing all or part of the day. But we can all strive to include more movement, exercise, and posture changes in our daily routines!”

    I have a YouTube video (really a Keynote slideshow) about the etiquette of talking to/about people with disabilities that a number of writers have found useful. It lives at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYQ-mBtUB0M


    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Becky. I appreciate the input very much. I will try to be more conscious of this going forward. Kind regards.

    • don jones

      Becky, the problem with your re-written Headline is that it only covers a portion of what the info-graphic points out. It is sitting that is causing the problem, not the office chair. Sitting on a couch watching TV, and all the other sedentary aspects of living outside of the office. It is the sitting that is the problem not the office chair. I’m sorry for your physical challenge. But the headline really is accurate.

  • http://www.live-better.org/ Alex Marsh

    Definitely consider that that you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the internet the easiest factor to bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while other people consider concerns that they just don’t understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and also outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , other folks could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thanks

  • Anonymous

    How does your stand up desk work with your laptop and monitor?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I haven’t moved the larger monitor to the standup desk. I just use the laptop. It works great!

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  • http://www.peak313.com/ Clare

    As a fitblogger, I know these facts all too well! It’s exactly why I created a 2-part series of exercises to do while you are standing or seated at your desk!! The “deskie” workout!

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  • http://www.cheapseeds.com/ Becky

    I also had an old boss who had me stand for a portion of my day when doing observations with my team.  If she had just told me more about the whys, I would have continued the practice and been better off today!

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  • http://twitter.com/InverseDream Meg Davis

    This is why I intentionally chose retail!

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  • http://twitter.com/brandrich Brandon Richards

    I’ve had recent issues with my legs and I honestly believed it was because of sitting for long periods of time. NOW I see that I may be correct in my belief. Thanks for this!

  • AMomWithKids

    We’ve been meaning to craft a standing desk for my work area — it would definitely take up less space than my current desk!

  • http://www.JanetOberholtzer.com Janet Oberholtzer

    I have a treadmill desk (from LifeSpanFitness) and love it! It is so quiet, solid and stable that I can walk while typing, reading, talking and more. Here’s my thoughts on the one I have: http://www.janetober.com/2011/12/27/video-review-of-the-lifespan-fitness-desk/

  • http://BrentFielder.com Brent Fielder

    This is shocking!  Thanks for sharing.  I feel a difference recently as I have been sitting a lot more.  Time to figure out how to more around and stand up more.

  • http://twitter.com/charlesstone Charles Stone

    So you actually stand up several hours each day? Do you lean on your desk or?? any suggestions on style/kind?

  • http://www.facebook.com/cmoalliance Anthony Ally

    Challenging thought Michael. Link to Dean’s article is not working.

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  • danzac

    I’ve become more serious about tackling this in the past 3 months. I use an app called break time that alerts me when 55 minutes have passed to take a 5 minute break. I either schedule quick errands, but at least 4 of those breaks a day I do a 5 minute circuit: 30 seconds of eggagerated walking in place, 30 seconds of fast running in place to get the heart rate up high, then various sets of reps with bands, an exercise ball, and some mats. I feel great overall, and feel a lot more energetic through the day.

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  • Retha

    I like the comic way you described a very real problem. Ironically I battle sleeping at night of pain caused by sitting too long hours at my desk. Plan of action: I am seeing the pysiotherapist today for advice on stretching exercises I can do when I take 5 minute breaks.

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  • Randy Zarecki
  • Brad Wagner

    Thanks for sharing the infographic. As a physical therapist I frequently see the negative effects that prolonged sitting has on the body. Unfortunately most people do not have other options or an employer willing to accommodate standing work stations. For those people simply standing up and extending their back for 1 minute every hour or two can help offset a lot of the stress caused by prolonged sitting. Also, the infographic doesn’t talk about the many neck and upper extremity problems that can be caused by sitting at a computer all day.


  • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

    Michael,  I train from my home office (skype) 3 solid days a week.  It was killing my back!

    I switched over to standing during the training sessions.  I have a bench for when I occasionally need to sit.  

    My back and nerve pain is gone.

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  • troy mc laughlin

    I’ve got to find a stand up chair for my tractor trailer

  • Magik from appsVolcano.com

    Michael, how long you stand for, by your standing desk?

  • http://www.appsvolcano.com/ Magik from AppsVolcano.com

    Michael, how long you stand for, by your standing desk?

    This is interesting and I am thinking of getting standing desk too, as I sit a lot.
    Have a nice day!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I stand about 70–80% of the workday.

  • govimala

    mmm…I thought that 90 degree angle is the correct position to sit and work. I was surprised to see that the 135 degree angle is the desired position.

  • chris_rainey

    I have been using a standing desk now for about six months and recently developed plantar fasciiatis. Anyone have experience or suggestions on how to get over it and then how to prevent it in the future?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Here’s what I did to get over it.

      • chris_rainey

        Thanks Michael – I have tried some of these but not all so I have some new tools to try – thanks again

  • http://www.revivallifestyle.com/ Daniel Vogler

    Amazing graphics and very interesting stats. I’m sitting almost all day working in my home office. What’s helping me massively is 60 minutes of cardio in the morning as well as a 7 minute full body workout in the afternoon (search the app store for 7 min workout)!

  • asenath horton

    Very Cool stats, suggestions, and ideas for staying on top of it. The ghosts under the chairs make me laugh too… and motivate me to do more around the office. I have been doing more yoga when watching movies, and that is very relaxing, and productive at the same time. Actually experiencing DPS from Sunday’s routine.

  • micahfoster

    And that’s why I was at the chiropractor for the first time last week! I need a standing desk for sure!

  • http://www.LeaderOwnerMindset.com/ Greg L. Gilbert

    In order to do what I love to do which is speak and teach, I have to spend hours on the phone and computer. This is my solution. It’s not temperature controlled but instead of walking TO the office, I will walk IN the office.

  • Tom Schulte

    Check out this new Kickstarter crowdfunding for a low-cost, portable standing desk called StorkStand. It fits on the back of your chair,. It is ingenious! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/889675794/storkstand-the-most-affordable-mobile-standing-des

  • http://www.caitlinmuir.com Caitlin Muir

    I think the universe is trying to send me a message – or everyone is complaining about this. Yours is the 3rd article TODAY that I’ve seen about sitting being so unhealthy. The mantra in my office is “Sitting is the new smoking!”

    I try to balance my time between my yoga ball and my hacked stand-up desk. What people don’t tell you is that you need to build up your standing time. It’s not easy and if you aren’t careful, cankles form. So build up your standing time and wear the appropriate shoes!

  • http://www.cognizion.com/ Garrett Carrara

    I stand up almost all day. Here’s my home office setup:

    SmartTrac Powered adjustable desk by TBC Consoles: http://www.tbcconsoles.com/SmartTrac.aspx#.VFmk5PnF-Sp

    Artemide Lamps with Cree LED bulbs

    Powerblock Dumbells and Bench to stay active during the day.

    Computers, scanner, copier, printer, lots of geeky electronics.

  • http://www.cognizion.com/ Garrett Carrara

    Here’s a picture

  • http://www.costuless.com.ph/ Costuless Inc.

    According to new research is now finding that this sedentary lifestyle is contrary to our biological needs and destructive to our overall well-being. The human body has evolved to is biologically designed to be mobile, not sedentary. Across the developed world, sitting is rapidly becoming the new smoking. In fact, we sit an average of 9.3 hours a day, more than we spend sleeping. Scientists believe that anyone sitting more than 6 hours a day is at a heighten risk of developers problems and this much sitting may be as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes everyday. You can read more info from here.

  • http://www.trafficguygary.com/ Gary Thomas

    When I got back from a vacation a few weeks ago I unexpectedly found an adjustable stand-up on my desk. I had said I was interested in trying one out, but they never told me that they had ordered one. So it was quite the pleasant surprise. After 3 weeks, I’m very happy with it. I spend most of the day in the stand-up position and then occasionally put it down for short sitting periods. I thought I would be weary of standing on my feet, but that hasn’t really happened. Now I just need to get something at home!