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Continued: Sitting is sabotaging our health: Stand up for yourself

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 13, 2014 - 5:31 PM

By the end of the workday, my legs were tired, but my mind was fully awake. It seemed like a fair trade.

Who will stand with me?

Typically, the only person standing at a meeting is the boss.

That’s starting to change. At offices like Salo, a Minneapolis financial staffing firm, standing meetings are the norm (as are treadmill desks). A bonus: Standing meetings tend to be shorter than sitting ones.

At my office, we sit.

During a recent afternoon meeting, my co-workers entered the conference room and one by one took their seats. I remained standing. My co-workers looked puzzled.

“Do you have back problems?” one of them asked.

“Are you presenting something?” another said.

I just preferred to stand, I told them. There was awkward silence. I felt my face flush. Standing alone was embarrassing. But why?

Sitting tends to equalize people, explained Hamline University business professor Rob Routhieaux, an expert in group dynamics. “If someone were to stand up in a meeting and everybody else was sitting down, a lot of people would interpret that as intimidating behavior,” he said.

Being the lone stander in a group also breaks social norms and, Routhieaux explained, most people don’t like to break social norms.

Back at my meeting, one of my colleagues surprised me. “I’ll stand,” she said, rising from her chair.

We stood in solidarity for the rest of the 45-minute meeting. Were we the start of a standing revolution in our office?

Driven to stand

Fact: Unless you’re Fred Flintstone, it’s nearly impossible to stand and drive a car. I took the bus.

This might sound silly to regular riders (who make up just 5 percent of the U.S. population), but that was a challenge for me. I had to wake up an hour earlier, stand at the bus stop in frigid weather and navigate the routes in and out of the suburbs.

My car-free resolve lasted only a few hours. I landed a critical interview in St. Paul and needed to get there in a flash. Instead of busing it, I took a company car — and tried not to think about my abs getting mushy on the drive.

Still, I was convinced that the bus can be a key weapon in my war on sitting. Levine agreed. “This is all about living in a more dynamic and joyous way,” he said. “The fact that you could see using the bus as part of your daily routine to me is kind of the answer.”

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