Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —
Your Chair is Killing You
Like Television, The Chair is not inherently “good” nor “evil.” But like Television, The Chair has fallen into a rather unhelpful job description within our culture. If you think about it, for almost all of human history, and in many places today, we humans spent our days standing: hunting, gathering, farming, unloading cargo at the port. Of course at the end of a long, physically strenuous day, you’d want to sit down with family or friends for a meal or a drink.
Today in the affluence of the Global North so many of us have become knowledge workers. We no longer harvest crops or work ships, instead we sit in expensive chairs and manipulate knowledge and ideas on flat screens. Now that the huge part of our day that used to be done standing is done sitting, what’s happened to the smaller part of our day that used to be done sitting? We’re still sitting! We’ve unintentionally turned our lives from mostly standing and walking to almost entirely sitting. It is well known that a shark can’t breathe if it can’t move, and we humans have become motionless sharks.
12 Walks in 12 Months
For 2014 I propose 12 treadmill events in 12 months.
• 20 January: Walking Virtual New Hampshire
• 15 February: Virtual Valentine’s Standing Brunch
• and more to come!
12 events where avatars will walk on virtual treadmills, and where “typists” are encouraged to also walk on RL treadmill desks. I’ll give you a free virtual treadmill, and it turns out that making your own RL treadmill is fairly easy and not very expensive.
There are fancy and expensive RL treadmill desks available, but you can also make your own very simply. Getting your monitor up a bit and sliding a simple treadmill under an elevated desk is all you need. Or, as Sherry Pagoto suggests, you can clip a cheap and simple “SurfShelf” onto any treadmill. 3 years ago I put together a new computer and a new treadmill desk for it. I bought a high-end nVidia GeForce GTX 580 Graphics Card, and a low-end “Merit Fitness” treadmill. I took the arms off the treadmill and slid it under my drafting table. The GeForce card cost more than double what I paid for the treadmill.
Late last year, a little under 3 years after purchase, the GeForce GTX 580 Graphics Card fried and I had to replace it with a yet newer and faster GeForce GTX 770. Meanwhile the inexpensive treadmill is still running just fine.
Not a Standing Desk
In addition to hearing talk about treadmill desks, I also hear talk and read posts about standing desks. Whatever works for you, but for me a standing desk is a bad idea. I do like to stand, but it’s fatiguing. Somehow I can seemingly walk all day, but after about an hour of standing I need to sit or walk. So beware that you might not like a standing (only) desk. BTW, we’re only talking about doing 1.5 km/h or 1 mph. You won’t be out of breath, you won’t sweat in your nice office clothes, and you can easily talk on the phone.
As avatars, it’s really important that we look after our typists’ health. They’re pretty important as we’d be little without them, and it’s well known that they are, as a group, not the most long-term, visionary planners. One inexpensive way to track your healthy typist’s activity and have a friendly comparison with others is with an “activity tracker.” Nike and all sorts of other peeps make them. The one I like best is one of the least expensive of the crop, The Fitbit Zip. Most trackers have to constantly be plugged in to USB or some other form of recharging. Instead the Zip uses a small, inexpensive button cell that lasts about half a year. It wirelessly syncs to upload your stats, so you pretty much never have to do anything. When it finally needs a new battery, it sends you an email.