The Dissertation Disease

The sitting disease is a hot topic that I thought was new.  It is a disease I may be developing after enough time now at the computer researching and writing for all this coursework and a nearly complete (what what!) dissertation.  Sitting has been the least of my problem for years now, and suddenly it is in the newspaper and my TIME magazine that sitting will kill more people than obesity and smoking.


I Googled the “new” sitting disease. (No, I did not use the library database.)  One of the first articles I found was from 1961.  It is a lengthy article from The Atlantic warning  that we are sitting ourselves to death. My favorite part is where the author discusses our patriotic duty to be physically fit.



Standing Desk on a Budget

Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic wrote the new book, “Get Up!”, and proclaims we lose two hours of life for every hour we sit.  He threatens “sitting is the new smoking.”   His studies show that 2 hours and 15 minutes per day of movement make the difference between developing or not developing this dreaded disease that is killing more people than HIV. Note that the 2 hours and 15 minutes does not have to be hard core exercising; it can be simple standing, walking, or any every day chore.


Both articles recommend the following, albeit over fifty years apart:

  1. Make standing the default position in your life.  Ideas here are to keep a glass of water on your desk so you have to get up and move to refill it, have meetings while standing, and take phone calls while standing.
  2. Take walks after meals.
  3. Exercise daily.
  4. Get a stand up desk.  These can run into the thousands of dollars.  Do it my way, the cheap student way, and stack your keyboard on a couple of books…. on the ironing board.  Also, you won’t have to iron.   I am standing from my desk now,  having moved my old desk to the side for my papers and books.  It’s kind of hard to get used to, but get a microfiber bathmat to stand on and you will avoid back pain and the sitting disease.  You can always use a stool if you get tired.  Don’t order the office standing mat because they are not as comfortable and far more expensive than the bathmat.  Happy standing and writing.
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