The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 9, 2013

Krohn: You can take this lying down


The Mankato Free Press

---- — There have been a lot of reporters in our office standing around lately.

I don’t mean in the sense of the idiom “standing around,” as in not doing anything. That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all.

They have elevated their work stations, moved the chair out of their cubicle, and are standing while they type stories, check emails, or look up Miley Cyrus dance videos for research for a potential future story on, uh, well, there could be all sorts of serious news stories.

It’s happening in offices everywhere, spawned by recent stories, including one in the New York Times with the understated headline: “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?”

I worry about dying in lots of ways: Odorless carbon monoxide, blood loss from a table saw, lightning or being decapitated by a high-tension cable, like the one I attached to trees for a zip line. Now I can add sitting.

The stories say studies show that sitting for long periods of time day after day could cause everything from an increased risk of cancer and heart attack to weight gain and early death.

My colleagues standing all day made me a bit nervous at first. Seeing people out of the corner of your eye hovering near you is disconcerting.

I’m not interested in partaking in this health trend. I’ve been burned too many times before.

We bought a $120 juicer a few years ago when all of the benefits of drinking freshly juiced vegetables and fruit were in the news. We loaded it with things like strawberries and kiwi and kale and pomegranate. It was yummy and you could feel the antioxidants and dietary fibers flowing through your body.

But depending on the loads of fresh ingredients you used, it cost about $22 a glass, and 90 percent of the perfectly good fruits and vegetables were discarded as waste. And, according to Mayo, there is no evidence the health benefits of drinking the juice is any better than eating the fruits and vegetables whole.

The juicer sold well on Craigslist.

I passed on a lot of the other health fads — ear candling, body detoxification, ultra-punishing workout routines and ionized bracelets.

In most cases, the latest health trends overstate the dangers and the necessary solutions.

If you read the lethal-sitting studies closer, it turns out the solution is easier than standing all day, which brings its own health risks. Standing up and moving around a little every half hour does the trick.

Rather than the standing work station, I’m considering rearranging my space for a lying-down workstation. I’m thinking a gurney-like bed, with the head and shoulders raised up a bit, that you could lie on and pull yourself up to the computer keyboard. It would relieve stress, relax the body.

And if I wanted to take a little nap no one would notice, like they do now when my head nods down while I’m in my chair.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6383.