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Bradford Keen
Bradford Keen

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01 July 2019 Bradford Keen

Bradford Keen argues for greater autonomy over how we use our bodies at work. 

Sitting all day makes me resentful and prone to sarcasm – uttered without verve because I’m too exhausted from all that sitting.

Fortunately, I’ve been at a sit-stand desk since 2012. The first I made from two wooden blocks, one for the keyboard, the other for the monitor. They were rustic times.

These days, I have a sit-stand desk-riser that I lift by grabbing a lever with each hand. It’s perfectly adequate although not as desirable as the touch desks that rise to personalised height levels, but it’s progress.

I’ve lost track of how many studies have been published about the dangers of sitting – increased risk of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, atrophied limbs – and the life-saving powers of standing such as improved confidence and moral superiority for caring more about your health than your colleagues do theirs.

Soon came the articles about the perils of binge standing: It’ll strain your heart, varicose veins will burst forth from your huge calf muscles and your lower back will seize up like a geriatric in a powerlifting competition.

Researching this topic will either have you up and down in frenzied paranoia that you’re not doing enough or it’ll cement you into your bottom-bound ways. 

Even on a good day, standing for five hours at work, walking to and from the station, standing on the train, exercising after work for an hour and doing household chores, I’m sitting for nearly eight hours. And that’s as bad as smoking, they say. So no matter how tall you stand, you won’t beat the Grim Reaper.

Perhaps the discussion about sitting or standing should be less about productivity, optimisation of workers and the cost to the NHS – all important, of course – but rather about giving employees the option to take charge of something as simple yet profound as how they move their bodies at work.

Bradford Keen is deputy editor at Facilitate