Get off your butt

Stand-up desks may be key to sustainability in desk job

The author at her stand-up desk.

The author at her stand-up desk.

Photo By brian corbit

Stand-up desks
After first ditching my office chair in favor of sitting on an inflatable gym ball, I recently took my desk job to a whole new level and had my honey make me a lovely pine box that transforms my sit-down desk into a stand-up one (see photo).

I’ve never been one for sitting down for long hours (maybe years of waiting tables earlier in my life set me up as a nonsitter). But after recently retweaking a back injury I incurred last year when I got plowed into while sitting in a car parked at a red light, my chiropractor suggested I sit on the gym ball, which, among other things, encourages proper spine alignment and makes you change position often, reducing damage to the back caused by sitting in one position for long periods of time.

She also suggested I look into getting a stand-up desk.

There is evidence that stand-up desks—favored by novelist Philip Roth and the late Ernest Hemingway, to name a couple—are better for you than the sit-down variety. A recent pro-stand-up-desk article at news website ( references a number of sources that speak to the destructive nature of sitting for too many hours per day. One, a study published in summer 2009 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that people who sit for most of the day were 54 percent more likely than those who didn’t to have heart attacks, regardless of whether they exercised regularly or refrained from smoking.

Mashable also mentions a report cited in an April New York Times story that found “the death rate for those who spent six or more hours a day sitting was 20 percent higher than for men who sat for three hours or less. For women, the difference was 40 percent.”

Butts get bigger, too: A Men’s Health article mentioned says, “when you spend too much time sitting, your largest muscle group—the glutes (aka your butt)—become lazy and quit firing. This is called gluteal amnesia. And it means you burn fewer calories.”

Climate change, Part 3
If anyone needs visual proof that the climate is changing, head over to the Gateway Science Museum (625 Esplanade, 898-4121) and check out the museum’s new photo exhibit, Doublexposure: Photographing Climate Change, which runs through Aug. 14. Photographer David Arnold’s contemporary images of glaciers in Alaska and Switzerland are set off against photos taken between 1930 and 1960 by late mountaineer Bradford Washburn of the very same glaciers (albeit much larger).

(More words of climate-change wisdom from Scott McNall next week …)

Chef Richie Hirshen—who oversaw the creation of Sherwood Montessori’s new student cookbook, <i>Smart Garden</i>—picks veggies from the school garden.

Photo By

Smart Garden
That is the name of the new healthful-foods cookbook recently published by students at Sherwood Montessori K-8 charter school, under the guidance of their fearless cooking and gardening teacher, chef Richie Hirshen. Smart Garden costs $10, and is available at Lyon Books, Monks Wine Lounge & Bistro, Red Tavern, Farm Star Pizza and S&S Organic Produce & Natural Foods (also available on a sliding scale, if you call Hirshen at 828-8890).

Proceeds from sales will go to improving the school’s garden, having a second R.A.D. (Recreation and Dreams, for kids with cancer) benefit party, and producing a follow-up cookbook.