Study after study tells us that sitting all day is killing us, even if we go to the gym all the time. The latest, a study focusing on older women, found that “Women with more than 11 hours of inactivity faced a 12 percent increase in mortality compared with with those with four hours or less of idle time.” (from News From the Field, Outside magazine). People like me need to take this into consideration: I have a desk job and a lot of my hobbies involve sitting.
At work, I have not easy means of creating a standing desk. I work for the government and they are accountable for every penny they spend. They will allow for redoing or retrofitting cubicles if there is a medical need (ex: an ex-coworker had serious back problems, so he got an adjustable desk that allowed him to stand when he needed to). Increased risk of mortality is not enough to convince them to spend tax dollars on giving me a standing desk, which is reasonable. Instead, I try to get up on occasion (helped greatly by the fact that I have a wee bladder and drink a lot of tea) and I go to the gym at lunch.
At home, I could make changes, but it would involve buying new furniture. Both my desk/craft/painting table and my sewing table could be standing stations if I could find/buy taller tables (yes, sewing, cutting, etc. is doable when standing – I’ve done it before and it’s actually pretty convenient when you are going back and forth between the sewing machine and the tall ironing board).
But, stitching? I could do some at a tall craft/sewing table, but I think it would be hard to find the perfect set up for comfortable stitching. I need a place to put everything and I need to get the light just right. This often involves me being curled up in an awkward position in the corner of my sofa, sometimes facing slightly backwards and with my stuff spread out over the sofa and ottoman.
Here’s the thing: I’m not looking for optimal health or optimal longevity. I’m looking for better, but not optimal. Eventually, I will replace my desk and table to have standing stations, but I’m not going to stop stitching and I will still sometimes curl up with a book. In the grand scheme of things, everything is killing me, including the delicious cookie I just ate. But, all that stress I’d have if I was striving for perfection would be just as bad for me in the end (because, guess what, stress will kill you, too).
Instead, I strive for balance. I get up regularly (thank you tiny bladder) and try to stay up for a few minutes each time. I take consolation in the fact that at least I’m relaxed and doing something I love (unless I’m at work, where it’s possible that I’m a bit grouchy).And, if I lose a few years off my lifespan, oh well. At least the years I had were spent doing things I enjoyed.