Most attorneys suffer from a life-threatening disease. The ailment may not come from monkeys, birds, pigs, or secret government-run chemical factories, and Dustin Hoffman may not be chasing it across California with Rene Russo. (That’s right, that’s an Outbreak reference.) But the adverse effects of this disease are still ugly: increased risk for diabetes, weight gain, and heart attacks, to name a few. The disease? Sitting disease!
1. Attorneys sit too much. Sitting disease is caused by too much standing ice cream cow tipping sitting. The average American, according to a 2008 Vanderbilt study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and recounted at JustStand.org, spends 7.7 hours of their waking day sitting. (How much time do people spend their sleeping day sitting?) You can test yourself for sitting disease: stop every 15 minutes during the day and look at your rear end. If it is mostly planted in a chair, on a stool, or in a hammock, then you’re probably infected. (Ask your doctor.)
2. Sitting too much hurts the ones we care about most: ourselves. The negative health effects of long-term sedentary work habits are not just apparent from the dramatic rise in the size of love handles, but are also increasingly documented by the medical community. It begins with your muscles’ electrical activity stopping: when you sit, your muscles turn off. This simple fact dramatically slows your body’s metabolic rate, decreasing your ability to burn calories. The insulin effectiveness of a sitting person also drops, which increases his or her risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. And for “people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking,” says Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. Basically, if you want to decrease your life expectancy, then take a seat.
3. Nature has a cure. Attorneys can fight sitting disease with a heavily regimented allocation of prescription medications, vitamin cleanses, and regular bloodletting. (Ask your doctor.) Or attorneys can just stand more. Standing, according to scholars, is sitting’s kryptonite.
4. I stood up. Not long ago, I sat at my desk thinking this: “Have I really been sitting for nine hours straight? Is my leg numb? No sudden movements, Trent, a blood clot could dislodge and rush to your brain and…” When I woke in the emergency room, I realized that sitting for long periods during the day may not be the healthiest work habit. I explored alternative workstation options, one of which was a treadmill desk. A treadmill desk is basically a laptop computer parked in front of an exercise treadmill that looks just like those gray-and-black eyesores that everyone had in their living rooms during the 1980s. I concluded the machine was likely overkill. Besides, I couldn’t imagine spending $4,199 on a treadputer (or whatever it’s called) just to have my emails look like this: “I cacn’t tyhpe o3n thfdis thiqnvg.”
5. I’m standing now. Instead, I now use a standing desk all day, every day at work. True, my feet are KILLING ME! But Dr. Scholl’s helps and I’m considering getting one of those black cushion square things, like what supermarket checkers use to stand on. Since making this decision, I feel that my metabolism is better (making weight loss easier), my posture is better (finally beating that creaky neck), and my risk of heart disease and diabetes are lower (yea, living longer!).
Thankfully, there is a cure for sitting disease. But tune in next week and read about the legal profession’s real epidemic: Mad Associate Disease. Now, if only there was a keyboard that would give me a six-pack set of abs.
Do you have a strategy to incorporate movement into your work day? Share it in the comments!
The Washington Young Lawyers Committee (WYLC) is the vehicle for new attorneys and law students to get involved with the Washington State Bar Association.
7 thoughts on “Take a Stand, Live Healthier”
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Trent I enjoyed this article very much. I’m so glad there are more and more people who are concerned about the health of our profession. I do not think living a healthy lifestyle is a fad, but living an unhealthy lifestyle was a fad that is hopefully fading out quickly. Your humorous take on this made my day!
I am a treadmill desk evangelist. It’s so much better than just standing (which you can also do on a treadmill desk if you get tired of walking). I am actually typing this while walking at a very slow pace. No typos!
I built my own treadmill desk for $312. I bought a used treadmill on Craigslist for $300 and a small table from a thrift store for $12. I took the arms and supports off the treadmill, so it’s now just the walking part attached by a wire to the control panel. I put the table on top of my desk, attached my keyboard tray to it, and put my monitors on top. I LOVE it. No more weird cramps and pains in the back and neck. Walking is a balancing activity.
Have one built at Pete’s Cabnets in Everett. Tops.
Suggestions about the best place to purchase desks / stations that enable standing while working?
Thanks for the comment Mark.
I have been standing for 30 years. I had a stand up credenza built custom here in Everett sometime in the 1980’s. The top is sloped with a catch rim at the bottom except for a foot of flat on the far right. The slope was for documents.
For years that flat on the right was for a lamp and books. As computers became mandatory I left it behind, that is until the small flat screen was invented and I stood again.
Now I have a day of standing and sitting, but if I sit too long…. right, I have to move.
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