Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sit Six Hours a Day and Die

Photo courtesy Flickr

Glancing at an Internet story, I picked up the info-nugget above. Someone else can worry about the science details, but Galen Cranz’s book on the chair reinforces the message. It’s an interesting and simple one: it’s not good for the body to sit more than twenty minutes on anything.

Cranz was teaching architecture at Berkeley when she was assigned an unfinished lecture hall: the desks had not been installed. She and her classes discovered that lounging on carpeted terraces worked better than grinding out notes on the wide arm of a chair. Picking my way through the details of her book led me to conclude that for productive work, any flat-seated stool or chair high enough to allow me to perch on the edge of the seat with knees a little lower than the pelvis (to open breathing) is just fine. I can forget about the infinite elaborations of office furniture and just set a timer.

I like to switch back and forth between working standing and working from a chair. My favorite seating is from dining halls: two surplus Navy stools offer fast-on, fast-off perches, and a pair of cafe chairs salvaged from local coffee shops allow me to recreate the ambiance in which I’m most productive.

A vintage wooden ironing board stripped of its pad, the maple chopping cart in the kitchen, and the pantry’s ancient counter offer alternative standing work areas. With the sound system going, churning out a day’s work is more like folk dancing than clerical labor.

Staying in motion through a work day protects cognition and fitness.

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