Sitting is killing me, but I’m a little bit OK with that

Study after study tells us that sitting all day is killing us, even if we go to the gym all the time. The latest, a study focusing on older women, found that “Women with more than 11 hours of inactivity faced a 12 percent increase in mortality compared with with those with four hours or less of idle time.” (from News From the Field, Outside magazine). People like me need to take this into consideration: I have a desk job and a lot of my hobbies involve sitting.

At work, I have not easy means of creating a standing desk. I work for the government and they are accountable for every penny they spend. They will allow for redoing or retrofitting cubicles if there is a medical need (ex: an ex-coworker had serious back problems, so he got an adjustable desk that allowed him to stand when he needed to). Increased risk of mortality is not enough to convince them to spend tax dollars on giving me a standing desk, which is reasonable. Instead, I try to get up on occasion (helped greatly by the fact that I have a wee bladder and drink a lot of tea) and I go to the gym at lunch.

At home, I could make changes, but it would involve buying new furniture. Both my desk/craft/painting table and my sewing table could be standing stations if I could find/buy taller tables (yes, sewing, cutting, etc. is doable when standing – I’ve done it before and it’s actually pretty convenient when you are going back and forth between the sewing machine and the tall ironing board).

But, stitching? I could do some at a tall craft/sewing table, but I think it would be hard to find the perfect set up for comfortable stitching. I need a place to put everything and I need to get the light just right. This often involves me being curled up in an awkward position in the corner of my sofa, sometimes facing slightly backwards and with my stuff spread out over the sofa and ottoman.

Here’s the thing: I’m not looking for optimal health or optimal longevity. I’m looking for better, but not optimal. Eventually, I will replace my desk and table to have standing stations, but I’m not going to stop stitching and I will still sometimes curl up with a book. In the grand scheme of things, everything is killing me, including the delicious cookie I just ate. But, all that stress I’d have if I was striving for perfection would be just as bad for me in the end (because, guess what, stress will kill you, too).

Instead, I strive for balance. I get up regularly (thank you tiny bladder) and try to stay up for a few minutes each time. I take consolation in the fact that at least I’m relaxed and doing something I love (unless I’m at work, where it’s possible that I’m a bit grouchy).And, if I lose a few years off my lifespan, oh well. At least the years I had were spent doing things I enjoyed.

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2 Responses to Sitting is killing me, but I’m a little bit OK with that

  1. Hannah says:

    You know, CBC was obsessed with the standing/sitting issue last spring. So I set up a standing workstation in the dayhome, and declared the rocking chair only for storytime, and basically stood up all day every day from 6 in the morning until 9 at night.

    I gave myself a raging case of plantar fasciitis in both feet that makes it impossible for to me to walk my customary 3km/day. Just walking around the grocery store on Saturday mornings causes me a lot of pain. I’ve gained weight and my fitness level is basically non-existent.

    All because I listened to the scare-mongering and didn’t look for the balance you’re talking about.

    Today I went for orthotics, and hopefully given some weeks they will work and I can start moving again. But I am so tired of all the absolutist rhetoric that goes around every time there is a new health-related study.

    I like picturing you curled up with your crafts or a book just as much as I like picturing you walking to work. They both seem peaceful to me. And peaceful is a good state of mind to be in.

    Like

    • I really hope the orthopedics help. I had plantar fasciitis briefly a few years ago and I can’t imagine having it while having a relatively active job. I was able to sit and rest my foor pretty much all day, and it still hurt.

      That’s a hell of a long time to remain standing. I’ve read a lot about it because, as a desk job worker, I am a bit concerned about it. And, yes, a lot of it does feel like scare mongering and does suggest that you have to be standing all the freaking time. Though, I did read somewhere that making sure that you get up and move around every 30 minutes is good enough. I don’t do this (sometimes I couldn’t even if I wanted to), but I bet you do. Hell, I’d be surprised if you had more then 5 seconds at a time to relax, ha ha.

      I think that peaceful is a good way to put it. For my walks to/from work, sometimes my brain is going on overdrive, but it’s purging most of the morning grumpiness (and waking me up a bit more) or purging frustrations from the work day, so even if the walk isn’t peaceful, I arrive at my destination feeling a lot more relaxed.

      Like

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