The Comfy Chair! Are We Sitting Too Much?

I’ll bet you’re sitting in a chair while reading this. In fact, the time spent sitting in chairs (office desks, cars, trains, planes, movie theaters, eating) has increased substantially over the past 30 years. And related health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and musculoskeletal disorders (back, knee, and hip pain) are also on the rise. This is an area of concern for all who sit in chairs a lot, especially those in the computer and media industries. Medical research has only seriously focused on this area for the past 15 years but already some commonly-held perceptions about fitness and wellness are changing. In this session, we’ll discuss some of the recent research and tools available. Bring your ideas, experiences, and concerns.

Comfy Chair, SXSW 2013

Myth - sitting is just as bad as smoking! “Sitting is the new smoking” That quote was published in a Washington Post article and marketing people grabbed it and ran with it.

Myth - sitting too much will shorten your life! NYTimes articles based on a research paper.

There is a well established correlation between obesity and mortality. Sitting too much leads to obesity, thus to mortality.

Two interesting results from a Mayo clinic study:

  • daily activity (besides excercise) has more bearing on your metabolism and health, than an hour of going to the gym.
  • sitting too much reduces your body’s ability to burn calories.

Moving around creates the cleansing processes in the body.

Background activity is important for general robustness.

Tools to help promote activity

  • Standing Meetings
  • Walking Meetings
  • Treadmill Desks
  • Break Software

Update: I received an email from the folks at with a link to an article that they published listing the 44 benefits of a standing desk. More food for thought.

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
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