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Why your desk job is slowly killing you (msn.com)
150 points by rdamico on Oct 26, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 116 comments

Doc, here. I don't think the article is sensationalist at all. Here's a quick list of basic steps I recommend

* standing desk: I love mine. 2x6 legs, 2x4 connecters, $50 at Home Depot, and 4 hours of work -- http://www.flickr.com/photos/niels_olson/5097452401/lightbox...

* live close enough to work to walk or ride. Ride to the train or ferry if necessary. (I ride 17 miles, take a train, then another 4 miles)

* Move to Southern California. I'm not kidding.

* Strength:

50 low crunches, 5n pushups, m half-down pullups

50 side crunches, 5(n-1) pushups, m-2 half-down pullups

50 crunches, 5(n-2) pushups, m-4 half-down pullups

50 opposite side crunches, 5(n-3) pushups, m-6 half-down pullups

50 crunches

Vary n and m to ability

* Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Michael Pollan, Unhappy Meals (Food, Inc; King Corn, and Omnivore's Dilemma condensed into one essay) --http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t....

Join the Slow Food movement: http://www.slowfood.com/about_us/eng/manifesto.lasso

Four books I'd like to see in every kitchen:

* Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (number one among vegetarians, but also the vegetable cookbook everyone should have) -- http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Cooking-Everyone-Deborah-Ma...

* Mark Bittman, Fish (If you can't cook fish after this, kill yourself) -- http://www.amazon.com/Fish-Complete-Guide-Buying-Cooking/dp/...

* Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (unrivaled, in depth, the go-to resource for food hackers) -- http://www.amazon.com/Food-Cooking-Science-Lore-Kitchen/dp/0...

* Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (the original food hacker) -- http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Art-French-Cooking-Vol/dp/03...

But, have you factored in the decreased life expectancy associated with biking 17 miles a day on the streets of Southern California? :-) Here in the Bay Area, we have bike lanes, and drivers that actually stop for you.

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, AKA the Big Orange Book, is fantastic. The mushroom risotto recipe is to die for.

Having biked North, South, and Middle San Diego for years, we have bike lanes, drivers that stop, and fewer days of cool weather than SF :-). In fact, having been to SF, I don't recall as many bike lanes there as here in SD. I suppose we'd have to measure to really know.

San Diego has bike lanes everywhere where they're not needed, but as soon as you get to a narrow section of road or an intersection they disappear. It can easily add several miles onto a trip if you are unable to take the freeway. Many destinations are also build on the top of mesas, and because the place is so car-oriented things are spread out to a ridiculous degree.

I bike commute here, but it's maybe probably less practical or convenient than when I was commuting to downtown Pittsburgh or lower Manhattan. My commute would be nontrivial for someone of normal fitness & not much experience on a bicycle: 20 miles round-trip, 2000 feet of climbing, a portion along Interstate 5.

2000 vertical feet of hills or 2000 feet of cumulative elevation? That sounds like a lot for 10 miles, some of which is on I5... I gain only 800 feet total elevation and that's going 17 miles straight inland along the 56 from the Sorrento Valley station to the 15. For context, the Ramona pass is only 1853 feet above sea level.

What? You can ride on I5? Even if it were allowed it seems really scary.

  > * Move to Southern California. I'm not kidding.
I don't think that SoCal has the space to fit the entire world (or even the nation). I would normally just assume this is tongue-in-cheek, but you said that you weren't kidding.

Fair enough. Someplace with a similar climate: sunny and comfortable year-round.

You say this because it is easier to get out, or because you believe harsh weather shortens lives?

It's easier to get out. I have no evidence that harsh weather shortens lives, although there was a study that used rainfall in northwest counties as a proxy increased sedentary inactivity, and showed a linear relationship between bad weather and increasing ADHD diagnoses.

You think being in Southern California will help with "sedentary inactivity"? As the song says, nobody walks in LA:


Seriously, the streets are pretty much deserted in LA--most people are driving and those who aren't, are on a bus. The normal bits of exercise and fresh air that a person might get in an east coast city are not something most people experience in LA. Or in many parts of California. If you're not the sort who makes time for the gym or outdoor activity, you're not going to be in good shape (literally and figuratively).

FWIW, btw, there's this NY Times blog post which suggests New Yorkers are healthier than the norm (though it suggests that the walking may not be so significant...but who knows--all that tramping up and down stairs for the subway, running for the bus and just walking around town might make a difference): http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/new-york-citys-...

Then, of course, there are the mental/emotional aspects of living in places that are more socially-oriented (e.g. NYC) vs. those that are not (e.g. LA)...

So, all in all, I'm not so sure that Southern California is necessarily such a panacea :-)

Your post reminded me of a quote from the movie Crash I thought I'd share.

"It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something."

The mayor of LA recently got his elbow shattered while riding in LA. Maybe I should tighten the parameters to "San Diego"? I here SF is nice, but doesn't it get a bit nippy in the winter?

If you're looking for "easy to get out", Silicon Valley stays much warmer than SF, as we have the Santa Cruz mountains to guard us from the Pacific fog.

Shoveling snow is a great workout.

If you read the article, the point is not about occasional work-outs. I shoveled plenty of snow as a kid in Omaha. Snow deep enough we could dig tunnels. It doesn't compare to 40 miles a day on a bike.

  > linear relationship between bad weather and increasing ADHD diagnoses
bad weather != sedentary inactivity

That linear relationship could just as easily be due to something like vitamin D deficiency, SAD, environmental factors of growing up in such an environment, etc.

Good list!

Potential errata: crunches may damage your spine[1], fish may be full of heavy metals and corexit.

[1] http://www.prevention.com/hurtyourbackhabits/list/5.shtml http://www.rainbowskill.com/health-secrets/best-exercises-fo...

[2] http://faculty.virginia.edu/metals/cases/nelson2.html

What do you recommend for people with weak joints? I can't stand for long periods of time as my ankle gets really sore. I've done some exercises at the gym to work on balance.

Try isometric holds to build up the joints. I've had a lot of success with them. The key reference on the subject: http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/Competition/Hoffman/ic-adv/ic-ad...

Why would isometrics work better than range-of-movement(using weights and cardio) in this case? When doing static exercises you are simply pushing until you're stopped by your weakest link, while in range-of-movement, momentum from other muscles can help you cheat on the weak areas, so that even though you expose many angles of contraction, not all of them are always fully contracted. Hence you can end up with spots of underdevelopment.

I'm pretty sure static holds also help to counteract the sitting problem, since flexing has a very relaxing effect on stiff muscles - it would follow that flexing them as much as possible is an even better idea!

I recommend you get evaluated by a physician if you are concerned about your physical ability to stand for prolonged periods. Seriously. I don't know if you've had ankle surgery, Gaucher's disease, or something else. In general, standing, though, is great strength training for those joints.

Not New York? No cars, you know.

Can you describe "half-down pullups"? Do you just mean pulling yourself up from a half-hanging position, rather than hanging completely from the bar before beginning the pullup?

Either half, though I usually do the top halfs, which works the smaller muscle groups that you really want to build. If you watch people struggling for that last pullup, they usually fail in the top half. The point is that a single pull-up is a tremendous amount of work through a large range of motion, so reps are tough to come by. Doing halves lets you get more reps. 16 half-ups is better than 6 full-ups.

The list is really helpful. Thanks for sharing it.

If someone was unable to get a standing desk, do you think kneeling at a normal desk might be better than sitting all the time?

I tried one of those kneeling chairs once. I found that my weight on my knees pressed the cushion fabric and the fabric of my pants into my skin uncomfortably.

Maybe you could get a bar, like this one for $229:


Work on it, or use it as a bar when you have company over. Throw some casters on the bottom, and you can easily move it around.

Try kneeling for more than a short time - your knees will probably hate you. But you can still take short regular breaks to get up from your desk, change your position, make sure your setup is as ergonomically correct as possible, etc.

Any recommendations on a chair for a standing desk?

I can't tell if your being sarcastic or not, but I have a chair at my stand-up desk. It is a cheap chair for a drafting table (it sits high). I stand about 70-80% of the time and use the chair for the rest.

Edit: Like this one http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/181-7379211-8663135?asi...

Thanks for the info. I wasn't being sarcastic, I just couldn't think of the term 'drafting chair'.

I recommend against a chair :-)

I've recently migrated to a standing desk after doing a nasty back injury about a month ago. I physically couldn't sit...or rather couldn't move to and from the sitting position.

However, I found fairly quickly that I needed to get a stool for occasional sitting. If you've been in a desk job for 15 years like me, going to a standing work position is killer. Worse for me was I found that I couldn't think standing up! I had to sit to think. I think it's important as a transition, otherwise you'll most likely go back to a sitting desk after 2 weeks.

A month or so later and I don't use the chair nearly as much, and I'm actually enjoying getting sore feet BEFORE my back hurts.

The researchers are comparing the time we spend walking against the time spent walking by a bunch of theme park actors they hired? How absurd.

No doubt there were people in history who moved about more than we do. There were also people who moved far less than we do, on account of being snowed in all winter, or chained to a Lowell sewing machine. And I think our diet is on average, better than theirs was. I don't claim to know the causes of the increase in heart disease, but I know specious pop sociology when I see it.

Until very recently being snowed in all winter meant constantly feeding a fire with wood or coal. Splitting wood or carrying coal is a lot more work than typing.

Meanwhile, I don't think you can assert that sewing at the professional level is approximately as sedentary as keyboard work without data. The cloth doesn't cut itself. It doesn't load itself. You are constantly moving your hands and arms. Until the advent of electrical controls the machines had to be clutched and unclutched by hand, even if the actual power came from a central belt drive system. And so on.

I imagine a lot of people will weigh in on standing desks, but what about just kneeling at a desk? Would that be better than sitting in a chair? What about working while in some sort of yoga position?

The standing desk thing is silly. Just stroll around the block every few hours.

I get paid for typing. Strolling, not so much.

I don't mean to suggest that walking and thinking is useless. It's quite productive, actually. But theoretical hacking will only get you so far. Sooner or later you have to type things, and read the results, and read the manuals and blogs that explain the results, and I can't really do much of that while strolling around the block.

Must be a rough gig if you can't take ten minutes here and there. How do you poop?

I think that the point of the article was that taking a stroll now and then does not offset the 'damage' done by sitting. They were pretty much tearing into the idea that you can offset the amount of sitting/inactivity in your life by exercising to try and create some sort of canceling or equilibrium effect.

Companies that have vast numbers of adjustable desks (e.g. Fog Creek [1]): How many developers use them in standing mode vs. sitting mode? Do many pick a mode and stick with it forever, or do they change it up throughout the day? And how many who are normally sedentary switch for a few days following a story like this on HN (or the hailstorm of similar stories on Lifehacker not too long ago)? :-P

Selfishly, my question can be boiled down to "build a standing desk or splurge on a GeekDesk?", but I am genuinely interested in how people use them long term.

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMVeHFrgOpE

Several people have mentioned the Workfit which looks intriguing but I've also thought about getting a GeekDesk. Anyone have experience with either or both?


We all have GeekDesks at work, and love them. I usually switch from sitting to standing once or twice a day (less so recently because I did my knee playing hoops), and it's a nice change. I got into the habit at Apple because I had a bad back and standing really relieved the discomfort; I'm thinking of getting a WorkFit for the house (because space is constrained.)

Anyone have a recommendation for an adjustable stand for monitor, keyboard and mouse that can sit low on a normal desk but raise up 1-2 feet use while standing? I'm not having any luck finding such a product.

Yes, I have a recommendation.

Get 10 packets of 8.5 X 14 printer paper. (8.5 X 11 works too, but not as well)

Make a tower for your keyboard. Make another tower for your mouse. Tilt your monitor back by putting something underneath it.

Adjust the height by adding or removing packets.

I have no idea why people don't do this immediately when they're considering a standing desk. Everything you need is in the printer room of your office!

+1 for hacking, the secret to good ergonomics.

Having said that, there are several reasons to throw a few dollars at the problem:

Tilting your monitor up is, itself, lousy ergonomics. My monitor is already balanced on a tower of books to get it to proper height when I'm sitting; another 18 inches and it will be like playing Jenga with my company's LCD.

Your first days as a standee will necessarily be the hardest. The feature where you can swap from seated to standing and back in five seconds with one hand will never be handier than in the first month. And if you skimp on this feature you'll be in danger of giving yourself a bad experience, needlessly.

Here a photo of my improvised standing desk setup from a few months ago: http://twitpic.com/1kkmj7/full

I've since upgraded to boxes.

Full disclosure... I work for Ergotron. But Workfit - S is exactly what you are describing and one of the most affordable on the market.


Looks nice. I love the price, but I don't want to have to mount my monitor for a few reasons.

I've been contemplating a geekdesk for ages, but at ~$800... I can't bring myself to do it. I'm a little nomadic, live in a 1 bedroom, and not sure how it will fit in a Mini Cooper or smaller SUV trunk.

solson, That is exactly what I'm looking for. Had my fingers crossed (as always) for a lower price, though I'm sure it is well worth it. I looked around for an animation of the system and then noticed your videos which are hilarious. Thanks



The navigation on your site covers the content when you hover over them, then it doesn't go away when you move your mouse from the nav.

The only way to make it go is to hover over "Home".

This is bad usability.

You could set up two desks, one at sitting height and one at standing height. You'd have two mice, keyboards, and monitors. Use an HDMI splitter/amplifier to duplicate the video (or just hook two monitors up to one video card in clone mode).

There are a few options if you want to change the height of the entire desk, but I don't know of any for just the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

I'm at a sort of double cubical setup with one wall in front of me and someone on the other side. I think the only setup that could work would be a flat surface that is only an inch high when at lowest point but has folded legs that can hold the surface at various heights when it is lifted.

See the Ergotron Workfit http://ergotron.com/ though I've gone for a cheap standing desk fixed at standing height and a stool for the occasional rest. Unfortunately this is at home so I still spend most of the day sitting :-(

That's the biggest problem--I can have any setup I like at home, but I have to use the desk that's provided at the office. They're not really into nonconformist workspaces there.

buy a stool that lets you sit at the same height as standing, then just raise your desk.

I actually do that at home with my laptop on the backside of a kitchen bar area but at work would rather have a setup that fits in with the current furniture arrangements. If I can't buy such an adjustable desktop surface I guess I'll put an adjustable computer stand in a corner.

A factor I would like to see controlled for would be the serum vitamin D levels of the subjects. I'm guessing that at least some of these findings could simply be the result of spending more time indoors.

Correlation is not causality. It seems that all these studies are simply observing correlations.

Some of the things in this article are just wrong. For example that sitting will cause "bad" forward pelvic tilt. Sitting generally eliminates forward pelvic tilt- which is the real problem. Forward pelvic tilt (sticking the but out) is the posture all humans used until recently in Western civilization.

Also, the idea that sitting will make you fatter because you aren't burning calories is fairly silly. In that case, an hour at the gym would be able to make up for all your sitting. At any rate, most people's appetites/metabolism will simply adjust (read Good Calorie, Bad Calorie for an overview of the obesity evidence).

All this being said, as a personal theory I consider sitting in a chair to be harmful. Any time civilization does something like this it usually has bad consequences. Sitting in chairs could be the number one thing we do that ruins our flexibility. Humans are supposed to be able to squat with their butt on the floor.

Standing while working is a fine alternative (and a treadmill desk would seem even better). However, other postures are going to be required to start re-gaining natural flexibility. I am experimenting now with different postures- squatting, sitting on the ground, and standing with a bent back. It is possible to work at a computer while doing all of these.

I bet using something like a treadmill desk would help.


They say it works in the video for doing things like e-mail and phone calls... maybe it would work for things that require more concentration...I wonder if anyone has had experience doing something like this while writing code.

Looks like a neat idea either way.

I wonder if this would have a negative impact on productivity. From what I understand, while you're exercising your brain is actually not operating at its optimal capacity. It is only after exercise that you get the beneficial effects.

If you think about it from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes some sense. No use in thinking deeply while hunting; while hunting you just need to stay alive and kill your prey. But when you sit down to rest after a long day of hunting your brain is ready to think through more complex things (planning, etc.)

I'm reading Spark right now and I'm pretty sure I read about the above in that book, but I can't find a source. If there's a neuroscientist on HN who is up-to-date with the literature, it'd be cool to hear your viewpoint on this.

The founders of Instructables seem to have a reasonably good treadmill desk + code setup (though I personally couldn't tolerate his monitor configuration).


I read this and went to craigslist just to see if it was as cheap as they said. in chicago, there dozens of treadmills posted in the last 3 days and easily ten or so at or less than $100.

Standing on your feet is an effective solution. Exercise is not necessary to effect health change.

Even so, I find treadmill extremely annoying. I wouldn't use it for work.

I run in the real world, and do it seriously.

Are there any problems with standing in a stationary position for prolonged periods with no movement?

I would think that this might not be good for you either, though I could be wrong.

Yes, not good for your circulation.

I used to use a treadmill at about 3 mph while studying. I think you could code while walking at low speeds.

Even if you exercise, the more hours a day you sit, the greater your risk of early death

Here is a link to Men's Health's 10 Standards to Access Your Fitness Level.


It was linked in the article. It is very interesting, even if you workout some of these might be hard to obtain.


The article.

In 2009, Katzmarzyk studied the lifestyle habits of more than 17,000 men and women and found that the people who sat for almost the entire day were 54 percent more likely to end up clutching their chests than those who sat for almost none of the time.

I find it very hard to take this article seriously, since there are constant interruption with things like "Work your entire body in 15 minutes with these three moves for fast muscle" and "Tied to the treadmill? Try these seven ways to burn more fat on the belt".

It reminds me very much of an old SNL skit with Jerry Seinfeld about "news-at-11" style reporting. I can't find a better link than this one:


But the whole thing is filled with quotes like "Connor, it's no bark and all bite for golden retrievers and other so-called family dogs. What's causing these sweet and furry creatures to viciously attack sleeping toddlers? Stay, and we'll tell you in a minute.".

So this debunks the idea that sporadic gym excercise making up a small portion of your week is not enough to keep you healthy.

But what about intense, all-day excursions on the weekends? The kind that keep your heart rate up all day long and leave you limp and beaten?

debunks the idea that sporadic gym excercise making up a small portion of your week is not enough to keep you healthy

Did you mean to include that "not" in there?

I recently saw a comparative review of budget standing desk options, and I wish I would have bookmarked it. It was from someone who had evaluated a ton of them, put them up as his own personal opinion.

Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Seems pretty sensationalist to me. HN, please help debunk :)

There's real research here with counterintuitive results that deserve honest attention. Given the amount of brainpower here and the typical hacker lifestyle, I'd say the risk of unwarranted rationalization is very high.

Anyone have success reducing the number of hours sitting down while still hacking just about all day/every day?

You can set up a stand-up desk arrangement. You will look like a weirdo if you try this in a cube farm, though (I am speaking from experience).

It's better to have something that adjusts easily (like a counter-balanced monitor arm and keyboard tray).

Ooh... like this! http://www.ergotron.com/WorkFit/tabid/640/language/en-US/def...

In an open office configuration it's pretty nice. I have a "standing" desk at Dogpatch NYC (it's really just the standard Ikea desk all the way up + a printer box for my laptop) and beyond the general standing benefits (more mobility, less back pain, etc.) it's also nice to look up and not be staring at a screen and actually see what people are up to (which is mostly staring a screens).

The main downside I've seen is that greater mobility makes the kitchen (which is only 15 feet away) way to easy to get to. I think I've replaced the extra calories I burn with more snacks.

I work from home, and have recently (month or so ago) set up a standing desk. I'm in here 7 days a week. It's actually great because I can walk in and out at night to check emails etc without having to sit down.

My desk is an old coffee table top sitting on my keyboard stand (as in musical keyboard). I also have a stool for when the feet get sore, but I try not to use it too much.

I have been working at a treadmill desk for around two months now. In the past two weeks I have walked over 60 miles at my desk. Usually I sit for only an hour or two during my work hours. I find walking while working very productive.

The Modern Healthy Lifestyle Checklist is growing.

1. Barefoot running. (check for me)

2. Paleolithic diet. (nope)

3. Stand while hacking not siting. (nope)

#3 is easy to implement, just put the chair in the other room. #1 is already done. #2 is hard to do because I don't make the choice to shop for X food plus potato chips are tasty.

regarding #2, diet fads come and go every decade or so. imho the jury is still out.

It also turned out that the actual paleo people did eat carbs: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/10/19/paleolithic-diet-inc.ht...

Of course, even if they had not, it does not mean that the paleo diet is somehow automatically better: the only conclusion that can be made is that it is an adequate diet to sustain a person.

It's a common misconception that the paleo diet means no carbs. It's just the type of carbs that they prescribe or proscribe. All plant matter is predominantly carbs and is where most of the carbs in our diet should come from. Breads, donuts, pancakes, sodas, etc are highly refined carbs that bear little resemblance to the carbs our paleolithic ancestors ate. On top of that, there is growing evidence that a grain based diet is highly detrimental to our health.

Regarding cattail flour, there are several things to note. One, it was coarsely ground which is in direct contrast to the majority of flours that we currently consume. Whole grains are in general better than overly processed grains if you're going to eat grains. That being said, the evidence for our ancestors eating cattail flour comes in around 30,000 years ago. The Paleolithic period goes back 2.5 million years and the evolutionary history of our digestive habits is largely without any grains. Just because we have been eating grains for 30,000 years does not mean that's what we ate throughout the majority of our evolutionary history.

I'm not a nutritionist but I do eat a predominantly lacto paleo diet and the changes in my body fat, sleep habits and energy levels have been extraordinary. Anecdotal? Yup but it can't hurt to give it a try. That's usually my advice on the paleo diet. Far from being a fad diet, it's much more like a lifestyle change that seems to make sense in my experience.

> Just because we have been eating grains for 30,000 years does not mean that's what we ate throughout the majority of our evolutionary history.

This is true. Even granting the paleo premise, though, eating something through evolutionary history does not in any way imply it is the most optimal food for humans. Only that it is a sustainable diet. It irritates me that people (many of the fad-chasers at any rate) seem to think that way. Then again, it also irritates me that people generally think evolution is an optimising process.

> I'm not a nutritionist but I do eat a predominantly lacto paleo diet and the changes in my body fat, sleep habits and energy levels have been extraordinary.

Did you make any other lifestyle changes along with it?

I agree, it is sustainable. However, I think it's more sustainable than the average Western American-European diet and certainly more sustainable then things like Atkins and South Beach. I firmly believe that grains and gluten are producing silent damage and health issues. Of course, this is again largely anecdotal based on my personal experience.

I did not make any other lifestyle changes, at least not on a conscious level. My exercise, stress, job and the usual suspects are all still the same. My body fat is down 2% without any increase in exercise. My sleep cycles have increased (at least according to my Sleeptracker watch) by about 50-60% on average. My energy levels are completely subjective but it "feels" like I have more energy. I haven't done blood work yet to see what my cholesterol and thyroid levels are but should have that done in the next few weeks.

I haven't done blood work yet to see what my cholesterol and thyroid levels are but should have that done in the next few weeks.

I'm sure you're very well aware of that, but just noting that cholesterol levels itself is not a good predictor of anything. It is more important to look at the levels of high and low density lipoproteins (or "good" and "bad" cholesterol).

In fact, it might be a bit late for a blood test if you haven't done one before starting a diet, because you wouldn't know what was the change in cholesterol levels that the diet induced. For example, if HDL went up a lot, and the LDL went down a little, I would consider it a good thing, even though the total cholesterol might go up.

yeah, I did have a test done before the experiment but did not get a breakdown of the numbers other than good, bad and tris. However, I'm hoping this time to get all that plus some other markers like A1C levels. Mostly, I'd like to check for other signs of inflammation and if there are none, I won't be too worried about my high LDL numbers.

Interesting! How much do you exercise in general? Carbs obviously pack a lot of calories and I have empirically observed that in mostly sedentary people cutting carbs seems generally more effective than dropping fat intake (hence the success of Atkins), whereas moving into the moderate exercise range the situation is reversed.

My main exercise is CrossFit. On average, I do about 2 days on, 1 day off though over the summer, that is cut drastically because doing anything outside in the summer in Dallas is zero fun. My own experience is that dropping bread and soda is huge in losing fat. I lost a couple of pounds when I did my 30 day paleo experiment but the most noticeable change was the fat percentage (measured on a basic Tanita scale). The people I have known that went on Adkins who were definitely overweight lost a significant amount of that weight though one also had kidney failure because he essentially dropped almost all carbs (Atkins, to my basic knowledge, frowns on fruit and veggies to a large degree).

Again, my suggestion to people is to try paleo for 30 days then go back to your typical diet and see how you feel. If you feel fine, you lose 30 days. If you feel terrible, you discover something.

I went macrobiotic 4 months ago, which is similar to paleo in some ways sans the meat part (not an expert in either so this generalization might be somewhat off?) and with no other changes to my life I went from 165-168 lbs to 148-152 lbs.

It was pretty amazing since my metabolism has definitely been less efficient than when I was younger. (I'm 36)

The key thing for me was probably not eating processed food, as I had trouble eating only few potato chips or crackers.

It took a couple months for the cravings to go away, but now the thought of eating that kind of food is kind of disgusting. Now 70% of my shopping is at my weekly farmers market.

Disclaimer: I'm 99% macrobiotic. Every couple months, when I happen to be around it, I'll have a piece of bacon and eat it really slowly, savoring every bite.

Well, this particular "fad" has been around for a couple million years or more ... compare that with "eat whole grains" fad for example ...

So what's your advice for the time being? Keep on shoving cheeseburgers to our pieholes?

Or perhaps look at the way people eat in other countries outside of America where most people aren't obese and compare notes.

Yay America bashing! Let's compare notes with Somalia (or <insert starving nation here>)!

edit: The idea that "America == Bad" and also " !(America) == Good" is a fallacy that seems to get up-voted way too often here (and celebrated in way too many other places).

There are a lot of things the US do very well, it's a wonderfully entrepreneurial country and is at the forefront of research and technology. But like everywhere not all is perfect and food is not something where the US shine.

As a european who went to university in Rochester and has lived for quite some times in different countries Asia and Europe. I can say that I've never seen any countries where food habits was as bad as in Rochester... Of course, there were some good restaurants in Rochester, there were farmer markets but all of the restaurants at the university served greasy unhealthy food (I couldn't stand the food there and actually lost 10 pounds in 6 month because after 3 weeks I got tired of all the food served there and just didn't feel like eating much).

Now, Rochester might be extreme, it is after all the home of the "Garbage Plate" but really it was shocking and while all of this is anecdotal, the statistics do show that US has a very high number of obese...

It's not America bashing if it's accepted truth - it's indisputable that this country suffers from an obesity epidemic far worse than anywhere else in the world.

And this is not due to starvation - there are plenty of developed nations where people have access to all the food they desire, yet do not suffer the same health problems we do.

The poster's point is valid - there are obviously many nations out there that are developed and wealthy, where food is not in shortage, where paleolithic diets aren't widely practiced, where cheeseburgers aren't the standard food, yet they do not have many of the same problems that are prevalent in the US. This seems to suggest that paleo is far from the only way to maintain your health.

Wow, really dude? Paleolithic or fast food? Nice.

You know, a cheeseburger made with quality ingredients is a pretty good meal. Carbs, protein, calcium, fibre... Just don't have it all the time. And a cheap cheeseburger might as well be a donut, nutritionally.

Carbs, protein

I recently started to dismiss comments that include statements like "all carbs you need, all protein you need" etc. as not only useless, but actually harmful.

The source of carbs, fats, proteins is way more important than the fact that a certain amount of nutrients is present in a certain food.

If all a human needed was a certain amount of nutrients, it would be possible to be perfectly healthy on a diet of table sugar for carbs, industrially extracted vegetable oils for fats, some amino acid pills for proteins and a multivitamin complex. I think we can all agree that this would not work well.

Agreed - that's why I was sure to mention, quality ingredients. Lean meat, not reconstituted scraps for example.

Cheeseburgers would probably be a useful source of energy when you're performing marathon runs.

This is what I hope to do when I am ready to do a marathon.

How many of you can do all this (linked from OP http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/be_fit/index.php?cm_mmc=MS...)?

* Bench 1.5 Times Your Body Weight

* Run 1.5 Miles in 10 Minutes

* Touch the Rim

* Leg-Press 2.25 Times Your Weight

* Swim 700 Yards in 12 Minutes

* Do 40 Pushups

* Measure Up

* Run 300 Yards Sub 1 Minute

* Touch Your Toes

* Toss a Basketball 75 Feet Kneeling

A couple are pretty intense. I lift 3 days a week, climb, and do cardio 1-2 times a week. I cannot bench 285 (1.5x bw; my 5 RM @ 235), or squat 425 (2.25 bw; 5 RM @ 275). Also not sure about the swimming.

As a former swimmer, 700 yards in 12 minutes is 2.33 lengths per min, or 25 seconds a length sustained for 28 lengths.

That's pretty aggressive for anyone who doesn't swim very often. Even a relatively fit person who doesn't swim all the time would have trouble hitting that.

Even at my peak I could probably only pull 18s/length, and definitely can't sustain it for 28 lengths.

On the other hand, 40 pushups are quite easy, 1.5 miles in 10 minutes really ordinary for the average runner, and 300 yards in 1 minute doable too. Go figure. Could it be complete baloney? :)

Isn't there some factor such as posture being left out here? What about monks who meditate in sitting position for very long stretches?

What about sitting on an exercise ball? Have read quite a few articles in HN about the benefit of doing so.

In the context of this study, does riding a bicycle in the normal seated position count as sitting?

Things like this make me question the wisdom in the career choice I am about to leap into headlong.

Bike to work.

I'm fresh out of college, at my first desk job. I'm in the best shape of my life. A commute is an exercise routine that you're not about to skip.

The studies I've been reading indicate anything more than 3 hours of sitting begins to impact your life expectancy.

I have no concerns as far as fitness goes, I'm very confident I'll be able to keep myself healthy in that respect.

I believe it, at least the general conclusion that sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week, plus sitting in your car for another 5-10, probably ain't that good for your health. It ain't what your body was designed to do.

> It ain't what your body was designed to do.

The physical activity levels of hunter-gatherers is actually pretty low, day-to-day. They spend a lot of days sitting around.

A fair amount of walking around and standing around, too, I would think. Certainly compared to the modern desk worker.

Do you disagree?

In the US, 14 people a day die in the workplace.

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