Alvin Soon's Blog
Alvin Soon male Associate Features Editor
I like coffee and cameras, but not together.
So the chair from Wall-e is being made for real now.
It’s being billed as an ergonomic solution for using a laptop, but with all due respect to the makers of the uChair, the best ergonomic solution for your chair is for you to get out of it. Get off your computer, get out of that chair and move around more. It’s definitely not to sit or lie down more, no matter how ergonomically the chair is designed.
Why? There’s been plenty of research done which shows that sitting sitting down for long periods destroys you. Quite literally.
The University of Leicester combined the results of 18 studies and nearly 800,000 people, and found that prolonged sitting doubles the risk of diabetes and heart disease, and the risk wasn’t eliminated for those who exercised regularly.
A study of more than 200,000 Australians found that people who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40% higher risk of dying in the next three years. The more people sat, the higher their risk of death. The study found that exercise helped reduced this risk significantly, but the risk of death still rose as active exercisers sat longer.
A study done in 2010 by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for less than three hours, while men were 18% more likely to die earlier.
There’s an obvious reason why sitting is bad for you; it’s sedentary. The more time you spend sitting, the less time you spend moving. So you expend less calories and exercise your body less. And your body wasn’t built to be passive for most of the time, it was built for maximum performance by moving around throughout the day.
(We’re not talking about spending the entire day in the gym getting ripped, but to move around like our ancestors would have done, walking, climbing, farming, hunting, which is what the human body evolved to do. In other words, just using your body to do things throughout the day instead of just your fingers and thumbs.)
Sitting for long periods of time also changes your physical body in ways that aren’t good for you. Your legs weren’t meant to stay in a bent position for long periods of time, imagine keeping your elbows locked at 90 degrees for most of the day (actually not too far removed from reality for office workers like us who type and mouse all day).
Your body is a marvel at adapting, which doesn’t work well in this case, as your muscles adapt to sitting down, and stiffen up (technically, your fasica tightens your hips). Ever seen the extreme case of this, a person with shoulders and head permanently stretched forward? It’s the perfect way to nurture neck, shoulder and back pain.
Consider also lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme which helps your body break down fat in the bloodstream to use as energy. Low levels of this enzyme are associated with a variety of health problems - including fat gain - and it’s produced only when your muscles are being active, not when just sitting down.
So what’s a desk-bound office worker to do? If you can swing it, try a standing desk or tall table, and switch between standing and sitting to work. But if you can’t, try setting a timer to remind you to stand up and move around after a set amount of time has passed, the researchers at Cornell University recommend moving around for 1 to 2 minutes every 20 to 30 minutes.
Definitely do not sit or lie down more often, no matter how ergonomic the chair is. Or you might just end up one day like this:
Now excuse me while I get up and walk around.