12 ways to improve your health by sitting less (written while pedaling on a FitDesk)

If you commute (usually sitting) to a desk job (mostly sitting) and then go home and watch television (sitting) and/or spend a lot of time on your computer (sitting), even if you manage to work in an hour at the gym, your health is at risk.

You can Google to learn more about the science of this — and they’re just beginning to learn. I’m just here to give free advice on behavioral changes you can make.

To counteract all the sitting, you could consider:

  1. Cutting the car commute and work from home as much as possible. Seriously. Present this option to your manager as a way to cut their costs, improve your health, and therefore make you more productive!
  2. If you can’t avoid car commuting, every time you’re at a red light or stop sign or gridlocked in a traffic jam, stretch your legs, and tense and relax them several times. Really pull the muscles to the bone. (Okay, that’s the yoga teacher in me talking.) Point and flex your feet and rotate your ankles.
  3. Take public transportation and stand during your commute, a la New York City subway riders.
  4. Bicycle to and from work, or combine biking with riding the bus or light rail. Many now have bike racks available. You may want to request that your workplace provide showering facilities.
  5. At work, take frequent breaks (1-2 minutes every 20 minutes) to stand up and walk around. Set a timer and do it. Go get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, stretch, shake the tension out of your body, do a forward bend to stretch the backs of your legs. Walk to the best view from your building and partake of it to refresh your spirit.
  6. Sit on an exercise ball. You have to use your legs to balance. You can also bounce when no one is watching. It will strengthen your core muscles because there’s no back — you have to hold your torso up. This will burn more calories, if you’re interested in doing that.
  7. Instead of emailing, texting, or phoning, walk over to a colleague’s office to communicate with him/her. I know, I know, this is really analog, but it’s also refreshing. Think of how much more information you get from seeing their face and hearing their voice in person. You might even learn something about them from seeing their office decor.FitDesk
  8. Persuade your office to invest in a FitDesk. One FitDesk shared among eight employees sounds like a great start. I imagine 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon would make a big difference in the health and longevity of those eight employees, especially if they’re doing some of these other things when not pedaling. Of course, if your office can afford it, get a FitDesk for every employee! If you can’t afford it, you could phase this in over time as finances allow, as employees using it report they’re feeling better, missing less work, being in better moods, and being more productive, improving the company’s bottom line. Hey, maybe this is the key to the economic recovery and the obesity epidemic! FitDesks for every employee!
  9. When you get home, turn off the TV and computer and do something that uses your legs: cook, go for a walk, clean house, garden, do yard work, do yoga, lift weights, kick box, have sex, play with the dog, take a shower, swing your kids around, give them piggy-back rides, roughhouse, dance, put on a show. Also known as “living life” and “being embodied”.
  10. If you can’t eliminate TV or video games or Facebook or whatever is so compelling on your computer (okay, blogging and Facebook for me), limit it to an hour (with a break every 20 minutes; see #5 above) and get up during commercials unless you are on your feet while watching. Or…
  11. Get a FitDesk for your home so you can move your legs while watching TV and being on the computer.
  12. Do this with other people. It will be more fun.

Making the world a healthier place, one blog post at a time…

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New alternative for sedentary desk work: the FitDesk

Since I’ve posted before on how prolonged sitting is unhealthy and how to counteract it, and I’ve promoted standing desks, I want to bring this to your attention (and thanks, Shelley Seale, for bringing it to mine).

This is on the heel of news that sitting less could add two years to your life expectancy.

It is a stationary bicycle with a desktop attached to the front of it. You can pedal and keep your leg muscles active, improve circulation, burn calories, circulate lymph, move cerebrospinal fluid, and more, while working or playing video games!

The FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk is for sale on Amazon for $249.99. Amazon will cross-sell you a comfy bicycle seat and a laptop/iPad holder to go with it.

The seller offers a full refund (plus shipping) within 30 days if you are not satisfied with it. (Hint: Save the carton.)

One thing I really love about Amazon is reading the customer reviews. This product gets an average of 4.5 stars from 111 reviewers (all gave it 3 to 5 stars). Here are what some said:

  • A grad student in an online program lost 10 pounds the first month (30 lbs. over six months) using this product. She raves about the product being sturdy and quiet (quiet enough to use in the same room as a sleeping spouse), and about the customer service. The 2011 model has a timer/calorie counter/speed/distance monitor like stationary bikes at the gym.
  • Another reviewer mentions the great customer service: “Steve, the inventor of FitDesk, will answer your call or email himself. Some day he’ll probably have a huge company because this is such an awesome invention and then he won’t have time to talk to customers himself, but for the moment, he’s the best customer service rep you’ll ever talk to because he believes in his product and is doing everything he can to make it even better.”
  • The critical review rated “most helpful” gave the product 3 stars and said the exercise bike is not that great, that it’s hard to get a consistent pedaling rhythm. This reviewer is also an avid mountain biker who also regularly rides exercise bikes at the Y.

It sounds like it won’t compare to serious exercise bikes, but the whole point of it is not getting a strenuous workout but rather getting a light workout over time while getting computer work accomplished or playing video games.

Okay, okay! I want one! I’m drooling at the thought of cycling while writing blog posts! Would be awesome to have one at my next corporate stint.

The FitDesk weighs 33 lbs., holds users up to 250 pounds, and has a “seat extender” available for tall people. It is easy to fold up and move.

Also, there may (or may not, since the product is being continually improved) be issues with the electronic monitor, and I couldn’t get the straight dope on that.

The company has a video showing the product in use:

You can “like” FitDesk on Facebook (where they offer discount codes and giveaways) and follow @fitdesk on Twitter.

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Follow-up on 7.13.2012: The maker of the FitDesk has offered to send me one to try out! I love it! Will post on the experience, with photos!