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What happens when you sit at a desk for 13 years and also exercise (deanproxy.com)
348 points by deanproxy 1430 days ago | hide | past | web | 206 comments | favorite

I would strongly suggest anyone looking at this and saying they don't have the time to invest in this to also consider the mental benefits that exercise brings.

I don't feel I have time (which I know is wrong) and I particularly do not like gyms, but I cycle to work (2 miles) and on the way home I'll take a detour and add an extra 5-10 miles to my trip home. It clears the cobwebs. Cycling can be very meditative as well.

I am extremely lucky to be living in a place that allows me to do this on car free routes (Bath->Bristol cycle path and the Two Tunnels Circuit).

If you live within 12 miles (and potentially up to 20 miles) of where you work (about an hour of easy riding), you should consider 'building' exercise into your commute. Even if it's twice a week to begin with. Be crazy and park your car 5 miles from work and cycle in from there and build it up.

FYI before starting this I weighed about 310lb and have got myself down to 275lb within a year without focusing too much on what I eat.

If anybody needs to optimize exercise time, also consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight or dumbbell exercises. These can both be done at home, and they consistently have more effect on my overall fitness than long, medium-intensity cardio.

HIIT is an old, popular technique; it's basically intervals of intense cardio separated by rest. For an introduction, see Couch-to-5K or the Zombies Run training app. Bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere. One reasonable introduction is You are Your Own Gym, but there are others.

If you raise your exercise intensity high enough to force your body to adapt, you can do a lot in 20 to 30 minutes several times a week without a health club membership. I'm not saying this is optimal-I'm not at all an expert—but it's certainly better than nothing, and I generally see far better gains doing this than when I do long, lower-intensity exercise.

C25K was like an epiphany for me. I've always hated running and have never been very good at it. But working up incrementally and hitting goals has allowed me to really enjoy running. Great way to bootstrap an exercise routine IMO.

Absolutely. Combined with the geekery of quantitative tracking with something like Strava or Runkeeper and I was very motivated.

c25k isn't HIIT(high intensity interval training). It is just IT.

HIIT would be more like (sprint for 30 seconds, jog for 30 seconds) * 8

Also, take a look at Tabata exercises. It's basically 20 seconds of HIIT and 10 seconds of rest. 10 minutes of it and you are sweating a lot!

10 minutes of Tabata is pretty extreme... Starting at 4 minutes will leave beginners collapsing on the floor if they push themselves to the max...

I love Tabata! I usually use the "Tabata This" workout from Crossfit (one of the few workouts I use from that methodology). I break it up like this: Squats, Pushups, Pullups, Jump rope, situps. So the total routine is about 20 minutes including the 1 minute rests in between each round.

I have started people off on a single round of Tabata which is only 4 minutes (minus the warmup/cool down periods) and it leaves them laying flat on the floor if they push themselves to their limits.

I will second this. There is a Tabata class at the local YMCA. They have great modifications for beginners to advanced.

HIIT also works with strength training, not just cardio-oriented stuff. 30 min workout per day, 3 sets of the heaviest weight you can handle, highest exertion you can muster, with a couple different exercises.

Our bodies respond well to extreme variation in exertion, and HIIT strength training is another way of accomplishing that besides HIIT cardio.

That's just standard lifting I'm pretty sure.

Indeed. I completely understand feeling like there isn't enough time to do it.

Other than my 8-10 hour days at work, I have a teenage daughter, a wife and two dogs I have to attend to. I practice guitar daily, practice martial arts weekly, kayak regularly, read/study daily for my job, started learning more about F.A.C.S and Body Language and like to get in some gaming every now and then with the daughter.

I've found that I have at least 30 minutes I can spare even with that load. It's not much, but it's better than nothing sometimes. It's awesome you can find the time with your cycling! Keep it up!

"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."

I guess the rule about time management applies even when asking yourself to do something.

Reminds me of something I read from Arnold Swazenegger:

"While on maneuvers, Schwarzenegger and his fellow soldiers would use the hot spots (areas of metal over the tank’s engine) as a makeshift cooking stove, grilling up steaks and frying eggs. The eventual Mr. Universe continued his bodybuilding training even while off base, having stowed his workout equipment (plate weights, barbells, and a collapsible bench) in the tank’s tool storage areas."

In his book he talks about getting up an hour earlier than everyone else so he could get a training session in during his military service. Talk about "making time" for something.

I've had a couple of trainers -- the kind with degrees in sports-medicine, not the kind that were selling cell-phones in the mall last week -- say that Arnie was the single worst thing to happen to modern fitness.

Their complaint was that his genetics are exceptionally rare. That very few people, like 1 out of 10,000, could ever hope to come anywhere close to achieving the same physique. That by becoming a sort of fitness idol he set up everybody else up for disappointment and often giving up because it is literally impossible for the rest of us to do what he did.

As an aside, if you ever watch his first movie, a documentary of sorts called Pumping Iron, he says that smoking pot was a part of his regimen. He even lights up on camera.

That's more than unfair. Arnie sparked a massive fitness craze that benefited many people. If you get disappointed, that is ultimately your fault. Arnie (as well as every other bodybuilder since the mid 60's) were on varying degrees of steroids. This is well known. They have to deny it, but ask anyone in the sport. Arnie's body is an ideal, a loooong term goal that is probably never going to be achieved naturally. But that great physique is what made a ton of people get off their butts and at least try.

If you want an achievable natty physique look up "Zyzz" on youtube. Dude teched as a shortcut, but his physique is easily attainable in 3-5 years, if you do it right. Like Arnie, he has inspired many people. And then to say that the people that are too weak-willed to follow through on workouts deserve to blame these men? That's just silly.

Arnie doesn't deny he was on steroids either. He "just" says he only used them while they were still legal. Whether that is true or not... Well.

But the impressive part of Arnie's physique from a modern standpoint is the symmetry and attention to detail, not really size. We have steroid-driven monsters like Ronnie Coleman that makes Arnie seem like a starving child these days...

I think the bigger problem with bodybuilders as an ideal is that most people don't understand that Arnie didn't look like what he looks like in most of his published photos for more than a few minutes on stage every year. E.g. at his peak shape, yet cut as much as possible, dehydrated, pumped, oiled, artificially tanned, and flexing to the max.

That's not what Arnie level bodybuilders look like if you meet the on the street, or in the gym...

I like to point people to Conan, as in the actual movie rather than the posters. That was Arnie in the kind of shape that let him win Mr Olympia in 1980, yet if you look at the movie rather than the posters and pictures most people are used to seeing of Arnie, his seems big but his shape doesn't seem all that unachievable - that's the difference that competition prep makes...

People also misjudge size of bodybuilders in pictures massively, I think, and seem to believe they're huge giants mountains of muscle. Consider that Arnie at his peak was roughly 105kg, at 6', and with a 34" waist. There's tons of untrained guys larger than that - bodybuilders like Arnie just looks massive because of their shape and low body fat.

Of course most people still won't achieve Arnie's physique, especially not without steroids, but you can get "close enough" to his day to day appearance much easier than most people think.

I remember watching Pumping Iron, and he was massive alright. And he's 6'2". After he stopped competing, he slimmed down for the movies.

In general though, you're right. Nobody to this day has looked as good as he did.

Zyzz had crazy genetics too AND he roided. I wouldn't call looking like that "easily attainable".

In fact that's one thing I find quite annoying about fitness these days, everyone tries to play down exactly how much work is involved in getting fit, especially if you start from a really bad position (massively over/under weight).

It's hard hard work and saying it's not devalues everyone who has made it.

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight.” – Ronnie Coleman

Dont think Zyzz is a great example and shouldnt be mentioned in the same text as Arnie. Look at his youtube videos and meet a giant douche with mantras like "disregard females" and stuff like that. Sure, he motivated people, but he also died at 22 years old because steroids worsened his inherent heart problems.

Other great examples are the bodybuilders of the 50s like Steve Reeves, when aesthetic standards were a bit different (broad shoulders / thin waist, eg. look for the 'vacuum pose'.)

Frank Zane is also a really weird bodybuilder from the 70s. He won Mr Olympia 3 times I think. He's very "philosophical" about his workouts, brining in some kind of Zen philosophy to it. I like his physique the most of all bodybuilders, perfect V taper and king of the vacuum pose.

He seems very despondent about modern bodybuilding and the obsession of getting as BIG as possible without regard to the aesthetics (HGH/roid gut). He said they should make the vacuum pose a mandatory pose in all pro bodybuilding competitions to weed out this kind of crap.

In my opinion the physiques of the pro Bodybuilder in the 50 to 70ies really looked awesome. Personally still way too much for something i would want but still looking impressive. While todays pro Bodybuilders are just abominations caused by massive steroid consumption.

Meh this is kind of an irrelevant complaint in my opinion. It's not like everyone is out to look like Arnold in his prime - 99% of people would be thrilled to look 1/10 as good as he did (and they would look good).

Isn't physique, like, orthogonal to fitness? Bodybuilding may be a way to get fit, but working out in general does not require it at all. I think the lesson we all can take from Arnold is the mental effort, strength of will and so on, not necessarily the specific exercises he used to perform.

> Isn't physique, like, orthogonal to fitness?

Not if "physique" means not being obese. If "physique" means "photogenic," then yes -- they're pretty much unrelated.

> Bodybuilding may be a way to get fit, but working out in general does not require it at all.

Very true, and if people thought they had to build up muscle and look like Arnold, it would set the fitness movement back.

> If "physique" means "photogenic," then yes -- they're pretty much unrelated.

Where do you get your information? They couldn't be more related. I GUARANTEE you that any physique model you see on stage or in a magazine is far more "fit" than someone who sits around all day. No, having a great physique doesn't mean that you could run a 4 minute mile, but saying that they aren't related is just ignorant.

>Very true, and if people thought they had to build up muscle and look like Arnold, it would set the fitness movement back.

So, people trying to get in shape and look good at the same time is bad for the fitness/health movement? Are you trolling?

> > If "physique" means "photogenic," then yes -- they're pretty much unrelated.

> Where do you get your information?

You misunderstood me. I didn't mean that physical fitness can't lead to a photogenic appearance, only that they're not strongly correlated to a dispassionate third party, over all cases in the population. For example, there are any number of very highly paid, photogenic models who are not only unfit, but who suffer from anorexia and other ailments, and there are any number of people who benefit from a modest fitness regimen but who do not look any better because of it.

> So, people trying to get in shape and look good at the same time is bad for the fitness/health movement?

Ah, I just got it. You misunderstood me on purpose.

> Are you trolling?

I just demonstrated who's trolling. Being physically fit, and being photogenic, are unrelated, i.e. not correlated. That doesn't mean that one won't lead to the other, only that the absence of a photogenic appearance doesn't demonstrate a lack of fitness.

I can see you're not a deep thinker, so let me explain this more precisely. Let's call engaging in a fitness program X, and a photogenic appearance Y. The fact that X can lead to Y (and it certainly can) doesn't assure that outcome in all cases or even a majority, because the absence of Y by no means implies an absence of X.

I would imagine you get a pretty good workout - at least aerobic - from your kayaking.

I have to concur with the exercise-as-commute routine. I also cycle to/from work. My ride home, where I keep a brisk pace with some sprints mixed in, is actually my real workout. It is quite satisfying to arrive home having already worked out, effectively. Not to mention, it is faster than taking the bus in my case.

A few catches: it does help strengthen your core, to an extent, but you aren't working your arms and upper body much. Also, I'm in Canada, and riding during most of the winter isn't possible here on a road bike.

I have a pretty short commute(5km) and live in Halifax but with some good thermal underwear, gloves, jacket I was able to ride all winter except for about 20 days. On 23 mm slicks too but I'm getting something better this winter.

Gear makes a big difference.

Ottawa-Gatineau area, in my case. The downtown areas can often be clear of snow/ice, but not if you're on the outskirts. In this case it isn't the gear so much as the tire width.

Where in Canada are you? I live in Southern Ontario and there are usually only a couple of days a year when the weather is too lousy to cycle.

Hah.. I live in Toronto, and I used to cycle year round, but I don't anymore.. I think "too lousy to cycle" is a very subjective thing..

When I was working for a startup I could show up sweaty and grimy (or looking like a Mad Max extra in the winter).

Now I'm in a management position in a larger company, so while I still cycle to work as much as I can, I usually have to bring a change of clothes with me (dress shoes, shirt, etc) so weather (heavy rain or just generally cold/snowy) affects my choice much more now..

I wish I lived somewhere that was a steady 23 degrees year-round. ;-)

I find Toronto a much easier city to cycle in than San Francisco, but the streetcar tracks are utter murder.

Just last week an intern died on her bike. The driver of the truck said he just didn't see her. Not worth it in SF, in my opinion.

Trucks are easily the most dangerous threat for cyclists in a city (more than cabs I would argue).

When they turn right, they often can't see what is next to them, and they are deceptive because they appear to be going straight but then suddenly veer right, and can easily knock an unsuspecting cyclist down under their back wheels.

If you are a cyclist you should _never_ be next to a truck while crossing an intersection. Even if they are slow off the line, always follow behind, it's just not worth it to try to pass them..

I grew up in Southern Ontario and when I was in high school I biked year round. I agree it's pretty rare that it's impossible to bike in the winter, and a good mountain bike should get you through pretty much any weather. The tires are the important part of the equipment.

But it can be downright unpleasant. Dressing right is the hardest part. If you don't do it right, your core will overheat at the same time you get frostbite on your hands. I had to wear ridiculous getups sometimes like touque, tube, heavy gloves, winter boots... and a t-shirt.

I'm close to Ottawa. You can get by if you are riding mostly downtown, but if you're riding a road bike, it gets treacherous elsewhere very quickly. Fatter tires surely help.

If we're trading exercise experiences, I'll vouch for regular tennis. It's easy enough to learn as an adult, you do not have to coordinate a full team to play a match, the aerobic load is entirely dependent on the level of your sparring partner and, for me, it has the social aspect that guarantees I keep practising. Even when I don't feel like going, there is someone calling and challenging for a match.

The usual warnings apply: It is asymmetrical and, for God's sake, buy a good racket or you will get tennis elbow (good dampening of vibrations virtually eliminated tennis elbow, but only the good material does it right)

I cycle to and from work, but my route essentially just goes from one side to the other of the city center, which means some narrow streets, some cobbled streets, and a lot of cars.

On the contrary to my previous job where the route was mostly car-free, my current cycling doesn't clear anything and adds to stress instead of relieving it. Walking is fine, but feels so... slow, and inefficient.

I'm either a 20 minute walk or a 6 minute bike ride to work. I used to walk because I figured it meant 40 minutes of walking five days a week, but I found it wasn't enough exercise to avoid becoming overweight. Now I cycle to work and go on a hard 45-minute bike ride during my lunch hour.

At a previous job 6 years ago, it was only 4 miles away. I'd do the brisk ride into work, but take a big detour on the way home, riding 20 miles :)

"FYI before starting this I weighed about 310lb and have got myself down to 275lb within a year without focusing too much on what I eat."

Keep it up!! Every incremental pound gets harder as your body gets smaller, but it's still worth it!

Slight issue with clothes budget. I keep shrinking 44 down to 38 :)

Still I only fill the car up with fuel once every 6 weeks now.

That's a good problem to have. I think waist size is a better measurement than bodyweight. If you get stronger, gain weight, and lose a few inches off the waist, you're doing fine. If you lose weight, but get larger in the middle and weaker, it's bad.

Have a read about the "Famine Response". You need to stop trying to lose weight to let your body adjust its setpoint, then go again.

Will look into it. I've avoided trying to eat less. I've just started a low carb diet as wheat seems to play havoc with me, but this I try not to calorie count. If I'm hungry I eat.

Good for you, hope it works. I did the same thing. Some advice: measure your waist with a flexible tape measure, and get your blood lipids checked. I wish I did that before I started wheat belly / LCHF, to have an accurate before number. Even my wii scale was slightly inaccurate (5-8lbs) on carpet vs hardwood floor, I've later learned.

But yeah, since I kicked wheat and starch (kicking sugar alone did not help), I've lost two inches off my waist, with no exercise. I just wish I would have taken some more scientific before numbers.

edit: google william banting if you haven't heard of him before, for some low carb inspiration.

Have a read about how that is a myth.

I did the same thing, I started riding into work instead of taking the train from the suburbs to Central London. Door-to-door by train and underground was around 1 hr, but bike it was 1hr 10mins, approx 18 miles. Wasted time became exercise time and I felt much better for it. I remember my brother saying he would work with people who would work crazy hours (doctors mainly) and in order to train for marathons and triathlons you utilise every bit of time you can to exercise.

All I'd like to say is congratulations. 35lbs is a great achievement - keep it up!

Alright, off to the gym.

The Bath->Bristol cycle path is a fantastic thing. I may have seen you on it!

I'm unfamiliar with the name "Two Tunnels Circuit" but I may have seen it.


Through the Two Tunnels out to Midford and back along the canal path to Bath. I work in Locksbrook, live in Bear flat so it's an awesome if slightly bumpy ride (canal path). Although I recently bought a cyclocross bike and that has made a world of difference compared to a road bike.

At the moment I'm heading out to Saltford, then back Up to Midford (and sometimes Wellow). It's a really good burn.

If I want to hurt myself I'll pop over to Radstock although that one is a little bit lumpy for my liking and some of those lanes don't give you a lot of room should you meet a car coming the other way.

My humble advice: Don't be an armchair health & fitness expert. Read up on it for intellectual stimulation, but don't expect to learn any magical secrets to being in shape or healthy. All the magical secrets have been known for a long time, and they're really, really boring.

You should do whatever makes you happy [within reason]. You should probably not drink 10 sodas and 5 bags of chips a day. But if you feel like having one, fuck it, life is short. If you feel like standing at your desk, go to town! Don't expect it to fix your problems. Just enjoy yourself.

If you feel like lifting weights, do that too, but if you don't feel like it, ..... you get the picture. Be active, be healthy-ish, but in terms that you can enjoy in life. Some people like dancing. Some people like running. Some people like kicking the shit out of a heavy bag. That's the only real secret to health & fitness: learning to enjoy it and be happy.

(Personally, the only thing that made me adopt an active lifestyle was group exercise. Now that i'm more used to the routines I work out by myself or do sports. But if you find yourself having trouble getting started, try signing up for a group class with people who seem nice and a good instructor)

I've been doing 1 hour of high intensity exercise 6 days a week for a year now. What's interesting is how much my eating habits changed. At first I would try to avoid junk foods entirely, but that just led to cravings and I'd binge. So I opted for allowing the odd junk food, while also stocking my shelves with healthy snacks (like raw mixed nuts, for example).

What's interesting is that now I don't have any cravings for potato chips or candy bars whatsoever. In fact, just the thought of eating something like that is mildly repulsive. I drink water all the time now because most of the juices are too sweet for me (coconut milk is ok though), and eat unprocessed foods most of the time, not for some ideological reason, but because they tend to offer a MUCH more satisfying meal. Every now and then I'll eat a pizza, but I've found I end up feeling queasy afterwards. The high salt content (at least I'm guessing it's the salt content. You can certainly taste it, there's so much of it!) in most restaurant food leaves me with hours of a constant feeling of thirstiness that won't go away no matter how much water I drink.

The thing is, it wasn't something I decided I should do because it's good for me; it's just me following my body's cravings.

>>But if you feel like having one, fuck it, life is short.

Yes, life is short. Therefore you should avoid things that will make it even shorter.

I always hear stuff like "whatever man, you only live once." It seems so irrational to use that to justify bad habits. If you only live once, should you not try to increase the length and quality of that life by trying to be in the best health possible?

A bag of potato chips will not shorten your life. It's potatoes, vegetable oil and salt. You probably eat these things all the time. But since it's not a very healthy moderation of these things, it's better not to eat a ton of it. A soda is less good for you, but also won't shorten your life, unless you have a sensitive stomach or are a diabetic or something.

Trying to be in the best health possible would make me miserable. If you find it rewarding, then go do that. But please remember that others are entitled to live however they want (and preferably without someone telling them how unhealthy and short their life will be). I'll probably be dead by 70 from being too happy, which is okay with me.

>Yes, life is short. Therefore you should avoid things that will make it even shorter.

The second doesn't derive from the first.

If anything, "life is short, so don't obsess about its duration" is a better guideline.

>I always hear stuff like "whatever man, you only live once." It seems so irrational to use that to justify bad habits. If you only live once, should you not try to increase the length and quality of that life by trying to be in the best health possible?

"Bad habits" are some of the most quality time people get to have.

If you equate quality with pleasure, sure. If you equate quality with lack of subsequent pain and discomfort, no.

If you value "lack of pain and discomfort", death would be a very good deal.

People have different yardsticks for quality.

I once knew a guy who thought he could eat as much junk food as he wanted as long as he made up for it with "super-foods" (moringa MLM scam actually).

Regular workouts don't decrease death risk if you're also a couch potato -- http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38385104/ns/health-fitness/

People who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks -- http://health.yahoo.net/experts/menshealth/most-dangerous-th...

Sitting shuts down the circulation of a fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase -- http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2008/0610-stand_up_for_yo...

First sentence of the first link:

"Hitting the gym every day might do little to decrease your risk of death if you spend the rest of your time sitting down, a new study suggests." (I've emphasised the weasel words)

In the realm of health you can find a study to say anything. I've seen ones that say standing all day is an improvement over sitting, others that say it's the same, and even some that say standing is worse. The thing to look at is summary studies that look at a wide range of well conducted studies to see what the prevailing outcome is.

For example, according to a BBC news article[1], you can make "significant and measurable changes" to your fitness by exercising 3 minutes a week. So if we're debating using news articles, we're at an impasse.

[1]: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17177251

Second sentence of the first link:

"The results show the time people spend on their derrieres is associated with an increased risk of mortality, regardless of their physical activity level." No weasel words.

Yes you can find a study to say anything, that does not mean all studies are inherently untrustworthy. There are lots of studies showing that long-term sitting is unhealthy. This idea that it is a major risk factor regardless of other additional activities is not new.

"is associated with" is the ultimate weasel phrase. I see this constantly in press accounts of medical research: no distinction whatsoever between correlation and causality. "Red wine decreases your risk of heart disease", etc. In cases where causation has been definitively established (i.e. smoking -> lung cancer), it took a lot more work than an underpowered association study to do so.

The problem is that there is no evidence that suggest standing in front of a computer screen helps at all in those situations as well. You're still stationary. You aren't moving. Moving your feet around below you to adjust the weight on your legs does nothing for your cardiovascular system.

Unfortunately, as people who are tied to their computer screens for most of the day, we have very few options. One is to exercise. My story is one of being in better health than I was when I was in a job moving around all day just to give some perspective to this topic.

there is no evidence that suggests standing in front of a computer screen helps

From the last of the three links I posted:

"They found that standing up engages muscles and promotes the distribution of lipase, which prompts the body to process fat and cholesterol, independent of the amount of time spent exercising. They also found that standing up uses blood glucose and may discourage the development of diabetes."

I apologize, I skimmed through that article too quickly.

Nevertheless, I will still hold my position that I was once "Fat", with high cholesterol and could barely hold my own body up. With what I have stated in my post, I am now healthy and can do things that most 20 year olds can not do. So, I guess it works for me pretty well.

You could say that standing while working could have positive effects, but it's not the complete solution for good health.

Standing helps over sitting in a couple of very specific ways.

Notably, if you have a tendency toward tension in your hip flexor muscules, standing rather than sitting for a few hours a day will really help that. It's less of an artificially compressed position than sitting.

Unfortunately, as people who are tied to their computer screens for most of the day, we have very few options.

Treadmill desks have been growing in popularity lately for this reason.

If the colleague next to me starts using a thread mill with his standing desk, I'll shoot him in the face. With a nerf gun. Like the violent man I am.

Don't need more distractions at the office, damn'it!

Thread mill? He's sewing garments while programming? Kudos!

Who says guys can't multitask? Also, autocorrect needs to die a slow, agonising death. Sorry, again with the violence.

regarding the first link:

"When combined with a lack of physical activity, the association was even stronger. Women and men who both sat more and were less physically active were 94 percent and 48 percent more likely to die during the study period"

Compared to 37% and 18% when they did workout.

I would call that a pretty significant improvement, and a stupid conclusion. Did you read the article?

Do you have links to the studies they're quoting?

As others have mentioned here, science reporting tends to be sensationalist and inaccurate - sometimes less than other times - and I find it's generally more useful to at least skim the abstract of the paper referenced.

(And if possible, look for big obvious holes in the methodology too.)

For anyone interested... if you want good posture, if you want to really be in shape, there are a million fads out there, but the best book by far is "Starting Strength" [1]. (It's also one of the best-selling on Amazon.)

It essentially focuses on just the squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and (later) power clean, devoting around forty pages to each, and explains why you really don't need much else. They're quite difficult to get right, but the incredibly in-depth explanations will especially appeal to programmers who like understanding how things work.

I say this just because the book completely changed the way I approach the gym, and it mirrors what the article author says about the exercises he used.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Strength-3rd-Mark-Rippetoe/dp...

Yes. While I have nitpicks with some of the form advice that Rippetoe gives, I think his book is meant for, and very good for, any beginner to strength training and powerlifting.

2 years ago I was pretty weak and had a lot of lower back and knee problems. I did Starting Strength for about 6 months (as a beginning linear progression program, it's not meant to be done longer than that) and then I switched to Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program which is a more intermediate program with cyclical progression and monthly deload weeks.

In that time, I have gained over 20 pounds of muscle mass, added over 100 lbs each to my max squat and deadlift, my posture is much better, and my back and knee problems have almost completely gone away.

They also have a youtube channel where Rip coaches all of the lifts in the book and gives advice on where to go when you aren't progressing and what to do in terms of accessory movements.


Yes, count me in as a Starting Strength lover. Excellent book. Started squatting at 95 lbs. at the end of March, today I'm squatting 200 lbs. (I do other exercises, of course, but just an example of the types of gains can be made with the right knowledge and persistence.)

There's also Dan Johns Mass Made Simple


Both books are really good.

Does lifting weights really fix your posture if it's already bad? Also, where do you guys read about proper eating?

Depends how bad, consult a doctor. Mine was kind of shitty, and it did fix it, but that's because I only progressed my lifts if I had 100% perfect form throughout all sets and reps.

bodybuilding.com about diet and how to work with macros.

I can vouch for Starting Strength and CrossFit.

CrossFit 6 days a week, 2 hours a day. Come into work ready to take on the world!

That book was responsible for me finally achieving my 400 lb deadlift. Great book.

I can vouch for Starting Strength. If your body sucks, read this book. A lot of it will go over your head, and you don't need to read every single page, but once you start, really focus on nailing the three lifts.

I went from 45lb on the bar for all lifts to:

350 squat

475 deadlift

260 bench

290 powerclean

180 snatch

225 c&j

315 front squat

(the last 4 lifts are because I starting getting seriously into pure olympic lifting).

In under a year. I didn't use any drugs, but what I did do was post a massive wall-wide calendar on my wall, and in each day were checkboxes for: daily 5g creatine, daily sleep , daily macros (protein/fat/carb), daily fish oil.

I used a calorie counting application to make sure that without fail, every single day I got 300g protein, 400g carbs, around 150g fat (300x4 + 400x4 + 150x9 = 4100~ calories). I gained about 90lb, gained a ton of strength, then did a 2000 calorie cut still while powerlifting and then sprinting twice a day every day to cut weight fast.

Absolutely changed my life. I unlocked the greatest super power of all: controlling how I feel day in and day out. No more irritation, no more snappy emotions, no more all nighters and wasting 2 days recouping. I am able to put on weight whenever I want, and cut it whenever I want.

It's really incredible the shift you notice when you nail your diet and exercise down to a solid routine. You are much more stable throughout your daily tasks.

In the end, paying extreme attention to the trifecta and literally never once straying from it for a year (sleep/nutrition/exercise), it locked me into a proper mindset that I am able to sustain and not wane off of. Meaning I wouldn't have a new goal every single day, I wouldn't waste one day feeling extremely down in the dumps like I used to (used to be suicidal/suffer from extreme depression). No episodes, just focus.

Start getting strong, it will absolutely change your life and empower you.

Before anyone runs to the gym to buy a membership to copy the above, what rfnslyr did takes intense dedication and focus and he likely has very good genetics. Compound exercises that SS teaches are the best method for gaining overall body strength and mass. Just remember that working out is 75% nutrition and 25% lifting. If you don't eat right you wont make gains.

> If you don't eat right you wont make gains.

The golden rule (unless you're in highschool and rancid with hormones).

It really does take dedication. I had every day, every meal planned, at what time, at what time i wake and sleep, etc.

Allocate X amount of meals you are comfortable with eating per day (I like to eat four). Buy 7 x 4 containers. I like to eat two snacks a day too at work. 2 small containers x 7. So I got containers, 28 large, 14 small (for yogurt + fruit).

Protein - lean meat (beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, various fishes)

Fat - honestly just straight olive oil poured into my meal, makes it all nice and wet and makes it go down easy.

Carbs - anything carby, though I abided strictly by sweet potato for carbs. I want more carbs? Weigh out more sweet potato mashed, so easy for carbs. That and bananas are my two go to source.

4 meals a day, 4000 calories. 1000 calories/meal. 1 meal consists of 3 macros. Fat has 9cal/g, carb has 4cal/g, protein has 4cal/g. 75g pro, 100g carb, 30g fat. That's per container. Now I have 4 of those for every day + 2 snacks of whatever I want (this was my "cheat" meal, so fruits or some sort of yogurt, or some celery to be dipped in nutella, etc, something to keep me sane).

That's all there is to it. Then gym 3x a day, and monitoring my sleep with Sleepcycle every night and sleepyti.me.

Exercise hacking! I might do another full year of strict dieting and lifting while documenting it all.

That is some incredible dedication!

> Then gym 3x a day,

Did you mean 3x a week? Also, did you do much experimentation with your macro levels? And how would you adjust things given feedback from your sleep tracking?

Thanks again for this anecdote, it's really inspiring.

I meant gym 3x a week. I did do experimentation. For a few months.

I started at 2000 calories for two weeks. Noticed weight loss, kept adjusting 300 per two weeks to see fluctuations. 2300 still losing, 2700 still losing, 3000 I gained a bit, 4000 I gain a lot of fat. When working out intensely, biking, and sprinting, I only gain a bit on 4000.

During this time I ate zero sodium outright, only whatever the food contained. No condiments, just fresh cooked without spices or anything to get true calories and weight down.

> Just remember that working out is 75% nutrition and 25% lifting. If you don't eat right you wont make gains.

Does that hold for strength, or mostly for building muscle? Does training the central nervous system really rely that much on nutrition as opposed to exercising/lifting?

Oh buddy yes. Try it while eating shit and not maintaining any ratios and tell me how you feel / how long you last.

How is your c&j 290, but your powerclean 225? Squat clean for the c&j (judging by your front squat numbers)?

Whoops, my mistake, other way around. Squat clean for the c&j yes.

No worries, thanks for clarifying. Impressive numbers -- great post and thanks for sharing.

You sprinted twice a day? Can you tell me what a sprint workout was like for you? If I do just five 200 meter sprints in a workout, I'm fairly exhausted.

30 second sprint, 1 minute walk, rotate until you can't move. Then do it again. Oh, and do it a few more times. Then do that every morning and every evening. You will shed weight like no tomorrow.

Note: SPRINTING, not steady state cardio. As intense as you can for 30 seconds, then walk. That's all.

What do you mean by rotate (sprint for one minute and walk for 30 seconds?), and by a few more times (10 minutes, 15 minutes)?

If you can do 4 of those you're doing well. The key is to expend every little bit of energy you can for those 30 seconds, super burst sprinting till absolute failure.

Sprint to your maximum potential for 30 seconds, then immediately slow down to a walk, and walk for a minute. Once that minute is up, back to the sprinting for thirty seconds. Keep rotating between 30 second sprints and 1 minute walks until you are exhausted.

What is the main focus? Is the goal pure strength, mostly mass or a combination of the two? Right now I'm interested in training strength (as opposed to training for size, like body building).

What is missing in the discussion of this and the previous article is some reflection on physiology and why could prolonged sitting possibly be bad for you in the first place. One must know that that there are many processes in the human body that can only be executed efficiently when we move, like for example transfer of lymph or movement of digested food through the intestines (involuntary smooth muscle contractions are also involved in both processes but skeletal muscle contractions make it much more effective). Problems with the gastrointestinal tract, like not visiting the toilet often enough, have been linked to a great amount of diseases, so this is something to be concerned about.

Hence doing sports after 8 hours of sitting will not necessarily counterbalance all the negative effects involved. I am not so sure working standing would be better, either. I think a good practical recommendation that is great in many aspects is to take a short break every 2 hours or so and get just 5 minutes of exercise done, just enough to get the heart beating a bit faster and the blood circulating, it can be just basic stretching or isometric contractions, whatever you are able to easily execute in your office environment. It makes the work day much more productive, too.

> I am not so sure working standing would be better, either.

I'm curious if standing desks make taking breaks much more accessible. Like many others, I use a program that basically notifies me every 30 minutes to take a 2 minute break. Even then, I find myself "skipping" them often as I'm typically in the middle of intense focus and I honestly feel like it's too much effort to get up and walk around at times.

I agree. I exercise, chiefly barbell lifts. They do help quite a bit, a bunch of chronic pain went away.

But how I work matters too. I feel better if I take breaks and move around, or if I alternate between standing and sitting. And my hip flexors are worse if I sit all the time.

seems to be the key point missing in all of this, exercising with a biomechanically screwed body = more problems. Though I certainly agree most just need to get off their butt and do something, I've had 7years of hip issues because my body essentially cheats deep hip flexion and I need to re-learn the correct way.

I'll recommend Dan John's book "Intervention" because I think his approach to fitness for individuals covers a good chunk of the HN crowd.

Personally, I have always been active and fit, but the reality of getting older and being part of a startup have made me fine-tune my regiment. I'd never been a gym rat, but having the time in school to spend 1.5-2 hours preparing for my sports seems ever the luxury today. Since the New Year (and the purchase of a road bike), I've been following a pretty consistent routine of biking to work (ranges between 4 and 6 km depending on the route I take), lifting at the gym for 30-45 minutes, and attending yoga classes at least twice weekly (one weekday evening class and one weekend morning class typically). I also play in a men's basketball league one night a week for most of the year. This provides the core of my activity; I can usually be found hiking, surfing, playing pickup soccer or basketball, and pretty much anything else active at various points too (which the core work supports and enhances).

My gym sessions consist of 20 minutes of mobility exercises, moving all the joints in all the ranges of motion they should enjoy, followed by a focused "workout", usually 10-15 minutes long. They are almost exclusively full body movements, sometimes done with low reps and heavy weight (such as double kettlebell clean and jerks, 4 sets of 5), sometimes complexes (such as 4 sets of (3-5 pull ups then 10-15 pushups)), and sometimes Crossfit-style workouts (5 burpees, 10 kettlebell snatch (5 per arm), 15 mountain climbers, and 20 kettlebell swings (10 per arm); repeat until you can't).

For my training, I have three simple steps (stolen from Dan John): 1. Do Something 2. Adjust 3. Perfect

Anyway, that's my me-too to add to the OP.

Recently, there was an article in New Scientist about this[1]. Basically, if you sit for more than 6 hours a day, one hour of exercise a day doesn't undo the damage.

The solution is to get up and move around often, i.e. every ~20 minutes or so.

Exercise is still good even if you stand/move around often. And standing all day also has its problems, like others have mentioned.

[1] http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829233.200-dont-take...

(edit: wording)

The problem with sitting for long periods of time, or remaining in any static position really, is that as muscles fatigue more stress is put on joints and bones. Having more muscle and strength helps significantly, but not all forms of exercise develops muscle and strength adaptations equally.

It would depend on the exercise. If you by "exercise" mean superflous human movement for the purpose of wasting excess energy, I would agree it doesn't do much to counter sitting the rest of the day, it's basically just a break from sitting.

If you instead mean methodical heavy barbell training for the purpose of invoking physiological adaptations in the form of increased muscle and strength, it would probably do a great deal to offset sitting for the rest of the day, especially coupled with the increased awareness and understanding of spinal positioning that comes with lifting weights.

Most of the time when people talk of "exercise", they mean the kind that don't do much for muscle and strength development (mainly the aerobic kind or light anaerobic work), but a lot of people actually do the kind that does.

I love my barbell, but I'd still like to get my standing desk back.

Use both, if you can.

"The solution is to get up and move around often, i.e. every ~20 minutes or so."

I agree. One method to force you to walk twice an hour is drinking a lot of water. This will keep your brain fit, you will be much less tired in the evening, when you leave for home. And - yes - you have to run to the bathroom quite often. 2-3 liters of water will do the job nicely.

That is also what my physician recommends (But don't try that with sweet or sweetened drinks).

I do this as well. I guess I should elaborate on my 8-12 hour days. It's rare now that I will sit in the chair for more than an hour at a time. Not only due to my awareness of the issues that it causes, but also because it just helps me clear my head to get up and go talk to some people, walk around the office, etc...

This should be done if you have a standing desk as well.

Clearing your head is important. Unfortunately, many people seem to forget that it is necessary. "The physiological effects of tiredness are well-known. You can turn a smart person into an idiot just by overworking him"[1].

Also: Getting out the door is good: Five minutes of "green exercise" turns out to be good for your mental health[2].

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/16/news/ecanomy/annie/fortune_a...

[2] http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/201...

yeah, my short attention span and inability to sit still is rather useful.

Right, it isn't just that exercise is good for you but rather all the time spent not exercising is bad for you.

Exercise is still good, but it doesn't do magic if you live unhealthy the rest of the time.

(That being said, I wonder if the extreme types of workout many people promote is actually good, or if it does more damage than good in the long run. I guess some people believe that one extreme can out-weight another extreme.)

Here's one answer:


Quote: " "Jim" Fixx (April 23, 1932 – July 20, 1984) was the author of the 1977 best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running. He is credited with helping start America's fitness revolution, popularizing the sport of running and demonstrating the health benefits of regular jogging. Fixx died in 1984 at the age of 52."

Heart attack.

I'm not sure about that. This guy has gone through some extremes. First he was standing 8 hours a day, no workout. Then he was sitting 12 hours a day, no workout. Then he got into bodybuilding using lots of machines which made him gain lots of muscles and finally he scales back to something I would call "normal": a healthy workout of 30min per day but... with some no-training gaps in between which can be several months long? I'm glad that he found his own routine but why did it take him so many years of going through extremes and now he's advertising his method like the only truth but still not sticking to the basics like eating healthy?

I wouldn't call what I did or even what I do as "extreme". Far from it. Taking steroids and growth hormone is extreme. Lifting weights and enjoying it to the point where you want to better yourself at it? I don't see it as extreme.

I also do not go several months without working out often. I did it during a shoulder surgery recovery and again earlier this year. I agree that is not a good idea, but life does get in the way sometimes and I was just pointing out that I'm no different than other people in that aspect.

I also wouldn't advocate that my way is the one true way. I will say that my results are probably pretty typical of what most people may experience when they actually decide to exercise.

> Lifting weights and enjoying it to the point where you want to better yourself at it? I don't see it as extreme.

I do. It is moving for the sake of moving rather than to achieve some productive effect. To me exercise is riding my to a place where I need to go rather than going by car if the distance is about right and the weather on the way out not too brutal. Walking, playing with the kids and so on. Lifting weights would indicate that I have calories to burn that go towards nothing else that helps. Usually at the end of the day I'm tired enough that I long for a bed rather than for more movement, especially not movement involving weights bought for the specific purpose of making that movement harder.

If I really did have energy to burn after a full day I'd probably take up some sport or spend that time and energy improving the place that I live in.

If you feel like you're lacking energy it could be that you're not eating enough calories during the day.

I took up resistance training a few months ago and it required I increase my daily calorie consumption by about 500kcal. I only realized how little I was eating after using an phone app to meticulously record everything I put in my mouth on a daily basis for a few weeks.

Since I started it really forced me to learn a lot about human physiology (because you can injure yourself if you do it with bad form), nutrition (because I want lean mass gain and optimal recovery), I sleep more (recovery) and stopped smoking. There's an amazing euphoric feeling after a heavy weightlifting session when you've got a good pump going. It can be quite a "technical" sport once you start factoring in all these things. The actual process of lifting a heavy object is the easy/least time consuming part.

Just yesterday I completely changed my sitting posture after I was having trouble with my infraspinatus muscle (bad posture at the desk). Now I'm finally sitting up straight at work because it negatively affects my weight lifting if I don't. Man there are so many benefits...

> Lifting weights would indicate that I have calories to burn that go towards nothing else that helps.

I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but this smacks of the whole calories-in-calories-out theory of weight gain that always comes up in diet threads in HN.

The reason I mention that is because I think programmers have a tendency to view things abstractly and quickly generalize. Sometimes this comes from an obsessive quality that makes us want to avoid spending any time thinking about anything that is not interesting work (witness the Soylent guy). However when it comes to the human body and our health reducing things to a simple equation comes at our own risk. Animal bodies evolved to survive and thrive under varied physical conditions and stresses.

If you don't like weightlifting then by all means do something else. But for all the people I hear complaining about RSI, and knowing what a combination of aggressive mountain biking and moderate weightlifting did for my RSI issues, I think it definitely comes with some very tangible benefits for programmers.

> Lifting weights would indicate that I have calories to burn that go towards nothing else that helps.

Resistance training does go to something. It goes to conditioning your muscles and building bone density which are both incredibly important the older you get.

I also agree one should do other things, which is why I mountain bike, do martial arts and kayak.

Lifting weights doesn't burn that many calories, compared to walking, running, etc. You can also have substantial strength gains by doing it just 2-3 times a week.

"Resistance training" gives you muscle mass so you can live longer. It gives you strength so you can do more in your daily life--lift a heavy object and without injuring yourself, for example. Having good leg strength can help prevent knee injury when you're out hiking with your kids.

Are you chopping and stacking wood at home? Lifting anything heavy (as trite as that sounds) at work? Or anything physically challenging that requires strength throughout the week? Chances are, like many of us geeks, the answer is no or very little. Lifting weights is a way to fix that. If you were working a physically demanding job, you wouldn't need to lift weights.

And anyway, don't interpret lifting weights too literally! Don't buy weights, use your body: pushups, pullups, etc. You can do pullups off the edge of a desk. Dips off the edge of a chair. Lunges and squats and "jumpy" versions thereof will give you plenty of leg and hip strength without any weights.

> Lifting weights doesn't burn that many calories, compared to walking, running, etc.

Doesn't increasing your muscle mass increase your metabolism? That is, your body's base calorie burn rate increases when you have more muscle to maintain.

Lifting weights is a sport. A solitary one, just like running or rock climbing. No need to disparage it.

If you exercised more, you would have more energy to burn.

Few things leaves you feeling more physically exhausted than being in bad shape.

For 48 I'm in excellent shape, thank you. In fact if you're over 30 I'll race you on any bike of your choosing ;)

yup, I used to exercise a lot and then I fell off the boat for about 5 years, simply because I no longer have a gym partner. Could feel my health failing. About three months ago I started doing the seven minute workouts, five or six times a week. I've been tweaking them a little bit, adding weights, changing exercise (but overall the idea is the same). I feel great. I think basically it boils down to: Commit to doing something that works for you, and stick to it.

Also, since I'm a lab scientist almost my entire time working is standing up.

Where does it say that he used machines?

> I put on 40 pounds of muscle one year alone by eating until I couldn't move, and then lifting as heavy as I could. I got up to doing a 400 pound deadlift, 225 pound squat, 195 pound bench press and I was doing pull-ups with an additional 90 pounds of weight added to a chain around my waist.


None of those are machines. Those are likely all free-weights. I only say "likely" for the bench press, as it could be a machine, but is unlikely. People that do squats and deadlifts tend not to do their bench press on a machine.

Squat could also be with a machine (smith machine), but it's unlikely for someone doing deadlifts.

eww, but yeah, forgot about that one (probably purposely).

I wouldn't call a barbell a machine.

It doesn't. :) I use none. I workout in my garage with a pull-up bar, a heavy bag and a barbell.

Can I recommend you also fix some gymnastic rings to your garage ceiling (or a branch of a tree outdoors, if the ceiling is too low)? They are cheap, and provide incredible challenging (and fun!) workouts.

Even basic things like push ups become challenging again on the rings. And you'll be so proud when you work up to your first muscle up.

One case = anecdote. There is actually some evidence that you can't counteract the effects of sitting with exercise, unless you exercise more than you sit. And what exactly does "I'm healthy" mean? Is that what the doctor says after doing some test or is it just how you feel? What would be the status of your health (as measured by tests from a doctor) if you had an active job and some moderate exercise for the same period of 13 years?

source: http://m.runnersworld.com/health/sitting-is-the-new-smoking-...

Every time one of these articles comes up, the author posts blood tests, 'health screening results', and bizarre plots from sleep EEG machines. These are all worse than useless.

Because there is only one sample. You have no way of disentangling the effect of the condition being tested, from the effect of everything else. You'd need like a hundred people for that. There are never 100 people.

For the past month, I've added shoulder stands to my workout, and also been feeling really energetic. It would appear they are amazing. That, or it's due to the weather being sunnier, and being on a nice project at work. I bet a blood test would show my cortizol levels are lower, which would give this headstand thing the appearance of science.

These N=1, test my blood, wear a skin salinity tracker for no reason experiments are playing at science, rather than achieving science. Like paintball is expensive but still doesn't kill people.

If this guy wants to write about his subjective experience of doing situps while doing sitdowns, it's not any less scientific for lack of a blood test.

I had a physical by my doctor about 3 months ago, as stated in my writing. So, yes... "I'm healthy" was declared by tests from a doctor.

Then it's seems that it's working out for you and maybe that would be a "middle road" for us, desk-bound people. However we still cannot fully counteract the negative effects of sitting, to quote the article which I linked in my previous post:

"Adding to the mounting evidence, Hamilton recently discovered that a key gene (called lipid phosphate phosphatase-1 or LPP1) that helps prevent blood clotting and inflammation to keep your cardiovascular system healthy is significantly suppressed when you sit for a few hours. "The shocker was that LPP1 was not impacted by exercise if the muscles were inactive most of the day," Hamilton says. "Pretty scary to say that LPP1 is sensitive to sitting but resistant to exercise."

That's certainly possible. There is no way to tell other than to give it a shot for yourself.

However, I will mention, I'm not blessed with great genetics by any means. I would say I am an average/below average individual when it comes to "good genetics". My entire family is riddled with health issues. My father died at the early age of 56 due to heart disease, his brother at 60. His father at 52. When I found I had cholesterol issues, this is what made me start my exercise routine, so I didn't end up like them. So far, it has helped me tremendously.

If you use a standing desk 20+ hours a week, you aren't sedentary. People who are stuck being sedentary won't be able to move to using a standing desk unless they stop being sedentary. There's a big gap between being sedentary and getting proper exercise.

Sitting allows people to spend a lot of time moving very little, in addition to time spent sleeping. Standing involves a fair amount of effort.

Just because using a standing desk often is a sure way for a person to not be sedentary doesn't mean it's the best idea. In fact the most sedentary people are probably going to have a hard time adapting to using a standing desk full-time.

When I worked in a "war room" one of the guys got us on a pushup routine. 2-3 times a day everyone stops what they're doing and does pushups. Start with as many as you can do (even if it's 5) and just do it a few times a day and you'll build up strength really quick. The guy who started it was about 40 and pretty heavy. We had two mid-30s moms in our room who got in on it and worked up to 20 pushups (from their feet, not knees) in a few weeks. Sadly, the band broke up after a while and moved to different areas, but it was pretty awesome while it lasted.

OK people it's pretty simple.

The scientific evidence is you can not undo the damage from sitting extended periods by exercise or anything else known.

Current scientific evidence is you can only not sit.

Like all things there is some science that says hey maybe it's not true but the trend is going towards not sitting.

Site seems flakey, here's a mirror — http://archive.is/IbSt2

Thanks for this. I'm not sure what has happened to my server all of the sudden, it has handled loads bigger than what I was getting from posting this article. However, it has literally taken a jump off of a cliff.

Controversial use of 'literally' :)

The author seems to miss the facts that spurred the trend for standing desks in the first place. Whether you exercise or not, sitting down all day dramatically increases your chances of dying from heart disease.


100% agree.

Also a perk of living in a city (such as San Francisco) is I can walk EVERYWHERE, including work and I do. Like the OP, walking to and from work and hitting the gym most days has vastly improved my quality of life and it doesn't even take away from much of my evening.

If you need something to get you motivated, grab a Fitbit tracker and/or scale and track yourself. It'll only work in the beginning, but if you use that to your advantage to get out of your lazy slump, it should carry you forward.

> Also a perk of living in a city (such as San Francisco)

How is it related to living in a city? At least in the Bay Area you can walk/cycle pretty much everywhere if your work is close enough to your job. And cycling in suburbs is usually safer/healthier than e.g. in San Francisco.

You're out of luck if your job is far from your home though. But one will have the same problem in city as well in that case.

How is it related to living in a city? At least in the Bay Area you can walk/cycle pretty much everywhere if your work is close enough to your job. And cycling in suburbs is usually safer/healthier than e.g. in San Francisco.

This depends on location. In my area, the suburbs (designed as they were in the 1950s-1970s) tend to be very pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly places, particularly in those areas with business parks. If you want to get around without a car, then you really need to be in the city.

Your second point, however, is right on. I've always made it a point to find jobs within 10 miles of my home, so the bike commute is reasonable (having briefly done a 40 mile round trip commute, I can say that it took up too much of my time).

Maybe it's more of a perk of living close enough to your workplace. I commute 60 miles one way. No way I'm biking that everyday. It would take probably 8-9 hours round trip :)

> Also a perk of living in a city (such as San Francisco) is I can walk EVERYWHERE, [...]

Or cycle. It's somewhat faster and more fun. (I like city life, too, for exactly that reason.)

It's better to be rich and healthy than sick and poor.

Obviously if you exercise it doesn't really matter if you sit or stand at work. The question is how to handle the case when you can't/won't exercise and still need to work.


Sitting for long periods tightens the hamstrings and cuts off circulation to your legs. Even if you exercise. Standing for long periods may give you varicose veins. Not sure there's a real solution here, other than to periodically disrupt any form of immobility.

The best posture is a varied one.

This may be my own pessimistic take, but something about the simplicity and obvious-correctness of that advice makes me think it'll never be as blogworthy as a less realistic goal that you'd have to buy something new to try.

Or, it's like the idea doesn't have the magic of an idea that you can't do right now but won't require any effort when the time is right- like "I could get up every few minutes and stretch and walk around already! That can't be it... I need to buy a standing desk and that'll make me stand all day so I'm healthy."

You could easily combine the boring idea with something new and shiny (that makes the idea work in real life^^).

Like a device giving you electric shocks every 10 minutes to make you remember to change your posture.

>This may be my own pessimistic take, but something about the simplicity and obvious-correctness of that advice makes me think it'll never be as blogworthy as a less realistic goal that you'd have to buy something new to try.

And maybe I am a pessimist as well, but I see your statement as simply a realistic one. :)

Plenty of very experienced and intelligent PTs have repeated the statement I simply regurgitated as well.

A standing desk made me more likely to run around in short mini-breaks. The hump you have to get over is smaller for that than getting out of your chair.

So a standing desk helped me have a more varied posture.

My work focus and overall health have really improved since I started running.

I started running casually a few years ago but began to notice a real difference when I began training for a half-marathon with a local team. The training only required a couple half-hour runs during the week and a longer run with the group on Saturday mornings. Having a goal to run a real race and support of team runs motivated me to follow through and I lost about 40lbs over the course of training. Since then I have run the full LA Marathon and in a couple of months I will be running the Chicago Marathon, and I can honestly say I'm in the best shape of my life. I never was a runner before but I can say I am one now.

It's not the running itself though, I think it's having a training goal and a team that supports you that can make it work. (btw my training group is Team World Vision, which has groups around the USA that run for causes). I would suggest the same result can come from biking, Crossfit, or other workout program where you have a clear goal and a group that supports your effort.

I agree that software development as a job works only, if you exercise regularly. During the last 15 years, I swim regularly, twice a week, usually 2km freestyle. And I run once a week, 12 km. I do this with my wife and we do it before work. We always insisted to get the time in the morning. In summer, when the outdoor pools are open, we swim outside, although the pools open only at 9 am. We aren't at our desk before 10:30 in that case (once or twice a week). I won't accept a work that doesn't give me this freedom.

In the evening, the kids are at home and we cannot leave. And all the lazy office guys drift in the pool and this is annoying, if you want to swim.

I am 48 now and have zero health issues. No back problems, no blood pressure problems, not an ounce overweight. Same with my wife.

I can only whole-heartedly encourage everyone to do the same. It sets a standard for software developers and life is so much more enjoyable.

Gotta agree with this article. A standing desk has such a minor effect compared to actually doing vigorous exercise.

What happens when you sit at a desk and your server melts in 57 minutes?

I'm glad that the author is having a good experience with his sit all day and frequently exercise plan. But his conclusion that standing desks provide very little benefit to your overall health is based on his sample size of one, never actually using a standing desk, and then extrapolating that "result" to the rest of the human race.

The only useful conclusion in this post has nothing to do with standing desks. It is simply that exercise will help you feel good and improve your health.

"Sitting at desk considered harmful considered harmful"? To be fair, I haven't seen any standing desk articles claiming that standing is some sort of magical panacea that can fully substitute for conventional exercise and a healthy diet, although I'm sure there's at least one out there.

"Sitting is bad for you" is one of the hottest topics in popular health right now.

Standing isn't so much a panacea as an alternative to the aforementioned sitting.

Our forefathers didn't formally "exercise" in a gym - they moved around. As a practical matter, standing allows desk workers more movement than sitting does.

Moving to a standing desk is not "futile". For myself, a standing desk prevents me from reinjuring my lower back and potentially missing out on a couple days of work due to back spasms. Others use it to help them with repetitive stress injury.

And how did I injure my back? Exercising with too much weights at the gym!

Usually it's not too much weight, but the wrong posture/trajectory of the exercise that causes injuries.

I think a previous HN article of a 10 minute routine of body weight exercises is a better program for many than a weight lifting routine for cardio and maintaining body weight. I think body weight exercises are often overlooked. Pullups, situps, pushups, pistol squats. Also add a jump rope for little weight, portability, and requires little space. I don't see too many fat runners, gymnasts, or cyclists. Power lifters, Olympic weight lifters often have a lot of fat with muscle. I like a pyramid type routine of starting with 1 pullup, 2 pushups, 3 situps, and repeat doing multiples ( ie then 2 pullups, 4 pushups, 6 situps, ...). For jumping rope remember to alternate the weight bearing foot like a boxer, jumping with both feet together takes more energy and I find lactic acid builds up faster.

What happens if I already have a scoliosis and I spend 15 years or so siting at desk for 12 or more hours a day and I don't exercise?

Absolutely nothing. Provided that I eat appropriately to my activity and my chairs are always somewhat uncomfortable.

But if I spend a year working from chair as deeply reclined and comfortable (and position fixing) as this one: http://www.healthyback.com/products/Humantouch/Pc095-perfect... I get back pains because small muscles around my spine get weak and can be overstretched and damaged when I lift a fridge or something or just twist rapidly in some unusual direction.

My winter workout: pomodoro technique + no heating + pull-up bar. Work 25 minutes. Now you're so cold your fingers are about to drop off. Do push-ups until warm again. Work another 25 minutes. Now do pull-ups. Repeat..

Not sure if you're serious, but having spent the last winter without central heating due to rather unfortunate renovation works timing, I'm really not sure this is a good thing. There were several consecutive weeks where the temperature inside would never rise above 10degrees celcius as we only head a small petrol burner. At night the condensation froze on the walls (outside temperatures of -10 degrees celcius). Sure enough movement keeps you warm, but basically you're always cold unless you're moving. I don't think I ever felt worse physically. Did gain quite some respect for homeless people in cold places though.

It is so easy to forget that HN has people from very different parts of the world. I guess that technique described above will not work in Finland's winter at all.

Semi-serious :-) I've worked in a number of cold, sometimes freezing locations in the depths of winter, although not quite as bad as your situation by the sounds of it. Push-ups and exercise does keep you warm and sharp though, should you need it. Sadly there's no quick fix for the opposite situation, when your mind turns to glue in the summer heat.

totally agree on the summer heat - you can always get warm with enough effort, getting cold without external help is simply impossible (I think?)

I like to train in mixed martial arts. Judo/Boxing/BJJ/etc. It's a good way to get in shape that also offers a steep intellectual and physical challenge. At least, they're both similar in that people usually compliment each other on how much technique they have.

I've noticed a correlation with programmers that train. The crazier the languages they like the better grapplers they are, yet DevOps types lean toward striking. Don't think it makes any sense though.

Enjoyed reading this - I didn't expect that anyone could be serious about the art and craft of window tinting!

However, deanproxy seems like the kind of guy who can tackle anything and throw in a few ounces of obsession to make it work. For the regular Joe standing desks might just be the one tiny thing they can do. They've become super popular at cubicleland here at HP and our facilities people will come and set them up for free.

Between the two 'extremes' of standing and sitting, there's also the saddle chair [1]. I've used one at home for over a year now, but only up to a few hours a day, so can't really tell how much it has affected my posture in addition to regular exercise.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddle_chair

I wanted to try something like this but didn't have one so I used a stool (4 legged IKEA with thin cushion). Not good, exhaustion feeling comes quickly, bad blood flow I suppose. I never bother searching for a real saddle chair but your post makes me wanna buy one.

If you sit all day the couch stretch [1] helps a lot to undo the shortening in your hip flexors. 2 min a day each side. Really painful if you sit a lot.

Kelly Starrett has a lot of great information about mobility.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-ZX...

Couldn't agree more with the standing desks - no doubt they bring some improvement, but they do seem more like the 'in-thing' and 'hip' rather than genuinely life changing. As it always has been, regular (even if short) exercise sessions are a key part in healthy living.

The thing I like about standing desks is that they encourage better behavior than a sitting desk -- they're not by themselves anything like a panacea, but it's a lot harder to be completely sessile when you're standing up. The style of working at a standing desk, I find, is conducive to taking short breaks, walking around, even moving to a chair to sit and read or think.

Do you think that people just all of a sudden decided that standing might kind of be a cool thing for their circulation or whatever? If it's a "hip" thing, it's probably because it's inspired by stuff like this:


Which states that sitting a lot is bad, even if you are an individual who exercises. And this does not imply that people want to replace standing with exercising, which is a false dichotomy proposed in the article.

For those of you that are interested, you might want to look up "Convict Conditioning".


Swimming is awesome. The overhead can be significant (finding a pool with lap swim hours amenable to your schedule) but the equipment cost is minimal ($20 speedo) and it's amazing exercise. I also find the time in the water to be a soothing break from the outside world.

The only reason people don't exercise is because they don't. I don't know of a genuine reason to not be able to spare 20 minutes a day. If you can do nothing else, run for 10 minutes and do 50 push ups, that's all it takes.

Too much of anything is usually bad for health. You can even exercise too much. So I don't think standing all day is the best solution. With adjustable desks it is pretty easy to alternate your working position during the day.

COMPLETELY MEANINGLESS DISCUSSION BELOW. Spare yourself 76 more or less useless comments and STOP HERE.

You sit. That's it. There is almost nothing you can do about it. It's called work. Anyway, it's NOT dangerous.

Get a coffee, go to the men's room, get lunch, stand for a while, go to the silent reading room... That's automatic and stops you from being seated more than an hour at a stretch.

Add 30 minutes of walking every day (7 minutes to the office, 7 minutes home, 7 minutes to get lunch, 7 minutes to get back and then maybe to and from a meeting) and you should be OK as long as you don't stuff yourself with cheeseburgers and fries everyday.

If you on top of that add 4 hours of weight lifting (actually 1 hour lifting and 3 hours resting) you can get extremely fit; Gladiator contender or Fear factor kind of fit. Like I am.

Also, don't forget intermittent fasting everyday 16:8-style.

With that kind of logic, most discussions would be meaningless. Basically we are all dying from a disease called "life". The point is how you want to die: either miserably from chronic illnesses brought by long years of bad habits or gracefully from old age. However, there are no guarantees, but if you don't buy a ticket, you have zero chances of winning. Anyway, eating "healthy" does not beat exercise.

3 x 1h exercises a week during 50 years is approx. a year lifetime. It is likely that if you do this you add more than one healthy year to your lifetime. Therefore exercises are saving life time.

... Your site goes down?

Standing, sitting. It's all so tiring. Why we don't have chairs in which you could float submerged in pen of small balls that have similar density as your body?

What happens if you stand at a standing desk and exercise? It's going well for me. $10 in lumber to convert my normal sitting desk.

I would guess the author already knows this, but kayaking is strongly associated with shoulder injuries/dislocations. Be careful, dude!

Why not do both?

If using a standing desk sounds like a good idea to you and you have the means to afford one or build one, it couldn't hurt to do both. My argument was that I did not feel like it was necessary considering my progress with sitting and doing regular exercise.

This is why I installed a gym at work.

our HR is concerned that squat rack can hurt someone

increase the dynos!

I agree with the points he makes and have had a similar experience. I have worked desk jobs with minimal movement for the last 10 years and getting into resistance training plus cardio has made a huge difference in the amount of energy I have, mood, posture, etc.

One statement I take issue with is this line "I put on 40 pounds of muscle one year alone...". This is essentially impossible barring a malfunctioning thyroid. I don't doubt that he put on 40 pounds of weight in a year but I can guarantee it wasn't all muscle. If you are 17-20 and finishing up puberty, using anabolic steroids, working out incredibly hard 5-6 days per week, and eating 4000+ calories per day every day _maybe_ you could put on 30 pounds of muscle in a year. If you are in your late 20s early 30s as he was, not using steroids (I assume), and working out hard your max muscle gain in a year might be around 20lbs. For a normal 30 year old working out 3x a week it's closer to 12-15lbs/year after newbie-gains have ended. I say this not to discourage but rather to give people realistic expectations, I believe the most common reason people fail at exercise is they are overly ambitious and burn out quickly when they don't look like Hulk overnight.

If someone was looking for a good starting point for fitness I recommend scooby1961 on youtube, he has been around a long time and has a ton of videos on fitness and nutrition aimed at newbies, and takes the perspective of an engineer looking at the body as a machine.

As someone who has been into this for a while my advice would be:

1. Start small and ramp up, if you do nothing currently start with walking 20 minutes per day.

2. Do not spend a bunch of money on fancy equipment, like all hobbies until you get deeper into the game you won't even know what you should get.

3. Avoid injury, esp your lower back and shoulders. The best way to do this is perfect form. Always have perfect form, cheating with bad form to get one extra rep is only cheating yourself, the goal is to work the muscle to failure, not hit some number.

4. If you want to do a home gym you can work 95% of your muscle groups with dumbbells, a barbell, and a pullup bar. The only thing you cannot work out well with these is your quads. For that you need a leg press machine or a squat cage (ie: a gym).

5. Most suppliments are unproven snake oil that waste your money at best, and at worst destroy your kidneys/liver or give you heavy metal poisoning. The only supplements I consider proven effective with minimal side-effects are caffeine (pre-workout) and creatine. I will not recommend any brands but look for ones that are quality tested by independent labs (like USP).

6. Cardio with resistance (weights) is best, but if you only have time for one make it cardio. This is more important for your long term health.

7. Sticking to a routine is not about will-power, it's about habits. The first time you work out with weights it's intimidating as hell and you feel like a bumbling idiot, you do that 2 or 3 times a week for a few weeks and it feels like a chore, you do it for a year and it happens on auto pilot, you don't even think about it.

n of 1 != proof.

It's proof that it worked for me. Somebody of average genetics and physique that had a lot of the same problems that others complain about and in turn try standing desks. Sometimes it's best to just give it a shot and see how it works for you instead of trying to find reasons not to try it. :)

Make that n of 2: I began exercising everyday about 1 1/2 years ago, after over 15 years of zero exercise. Didn't change my diet, nothing besides the exercise which was basically an hour of basketball nearly everyday. Arms, legs, back, stomach, shoulders, neck, hands, fingers and toes are all getting toned, with the occasional muscle bulging a bit, and better yet - dropped 20 points of cholestrol and 10 points of sugar, among other gains. Feeling great too, with a lot of stamina. I'm once again enjoying the pleasure of being able to continue running and playing even while getting winded, instead of feeling like dying after the first 30 yards.

A wonderful post, Dean. Thank you.

> To me, this has always seemed a bit futile as well as overkill. You're still sedentary. You're providing very little benefit to your overall well being and it's simply yet another way that people are trying to get something for nothing when it comes to health . I've read a lot of the examples of it's positive effects. I've read a lot of the raving reviews of people that do this, but I ultimately come to the same conclusion every time I read this stuff... exercise a little bit every day. It's healthier than standing all day, it's free, doesn't require expensive furniture, doesn't require you to beg your boss for something expensive and it's something you should be doing anyway.

I'm tired of this type of condescension. I guess because the author writes to a community of programmers, or nerds, or whatever, he feels that he can address them as if they are all sloths. I have not had the impression in the overall debate about this standing/sitting business that people are saying that they are going over to a standing desk in order to not exercise. One can perfectly well imagine that the people that are going over to a standing desk because they think that it brings benefits that are a good complement to an overall healthy lifestyle, like eating and exercising properly (I notice that you say that you don't eat healthily, deanproxy... does this mean that you willingly do this because you think that an exercise routine can fully compensate for a bad diet...?). If someone vows to try to have better posture in their everyday life, does that mean that they think that it is a replacement for something like a good exercise routing for the back muscles? No. So this is standing/sitting contra exercising is a false dichotomy.

In fact, this whole standing/sitting discussion was partly propelled by studies that showed that sitting a lot was bad for ones health, also for active people [0] :

> Even when adults meet physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health.

To turn deanproxy's baseless condescenscion towards "standers" and their supposed lazyness on its head: deanproxy is simply trying to rationalize his sedentary habits by asserting that having discrete blocks of activity time during the day counteracts his sedentary existence for the rest of the day.

To get the whole picture and in order to be in a position to assert that standing is inconsequential, deanproxy should also have experience with a lifestyle in which he exercises and stands/walks/is somewhat active in his day job. But it does not seem that he does. Perhaps not too surprising when his whole argument rests on standing CONTRA exercising in your free time. And what all of this shows is that the zealots (imaginary or not) who vow to NOT exercise BECAUSE they stand during their day jobs are leading an inferior lifestyle because deanproxy exercises and is able to do WITHOUT standing (and eating healthily... ). So deanproxy can claim victory here, the victory of being an exercise-zealot over the standing-zealots.

[0] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/

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