Sometimes, when I'm bored, I play a dark little game. I see how quickly I can locate -- via Google -- a matched set of completely contradictory health advice.
You know what I mean, right? Don't eat salt. Eat plenty of salt. Avoid alcohol. Drink alcohol. Exercise for 30 minutes a day. Don't bother exercising unless you're going to do it for 2 hours, Etc.
It usually takes me about 10 minutes. But recently, I found a great matched set in the same article. From Time.com:
Standing desks are in. Once the province of a few dynamic individuals like Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Donald Rumsfeld (O.K., two out of three ain’t bad), the stand-up desk is spreading to the world of corporate drones. And for good reason — there’s a growing body of medical evidence that hours of uninterrupted sitting can be surprisingly bad for your health.
Okay, so this we already know: sitting is bad for you. So, let's all stand more, right? Wrong:
Alan Hedge, who directs the Human Factors and Ergonomics research and teaching programs at Cornell University, told me that switching to a standup desk can be risky, especially if it’s done incorrectly:
"Standing to work has long known to be problematic, it is more tiring, it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (ninefold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy.
The performance of many fine motor skills also is less good when people stand rather than sit. We have tested computer use when sitting and standing in different ways. The problem with standing is that when you raise desk height for keyboard/mouse use you need to also raise screen height above the desk or you get neck flexion."
Nobody wants neck flexion, do they?
So the conclusion, after hundreds of words and expert testimony and study citations is this:
Hedge does acknowledge that sitting for hours at a time, uninterrupted, is not good for you. So he advocates a middle way — use a sitting desk with proper ergonomic posture, but make sure that about every 20 minutes you stand up and move around for a brief period of time.
In other words: sit up straight; don't be lazy; walk around every now and then.
I wonder how many trained scientists and how many research dollars went into those discoveries?