Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2015 Contents A31
Monday, June 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
When I was about eight years old and
growing up among bougainvillea and oil
fields, I hated to sit in class all day.
I would stand at my desk and diligently
do my work.
"Please sit," the best teacher in the world
Sr Catherine Therese would plead. "Would
you like another chair?
"No, please, Sister," I would reply sweetly
each time. "I like standing." I was such a
polite cute thing in those days, which is
further proof that anyone can change if she
really works at it.
Sister Catherine generally didn t trouble
trouble unless it troubled her, so I was
allowed to be my contrarian self---after all,
I got good grades, didn t pull the wings off
insects, and got along with my classmates.
So what if I wanted to be minor rebel?
But eight year olds don t run rebellions
very well. I had no followers in the Stand
Up movement. And I was soon conquered
by a fire-breathing dragon as terrifying as
any swarming the skies on Game of Thrones.
My friend June (who grew up to be a
chemical engineer) was seated at the desk
across the aisle and she signalled to me to
sit. "No," I silently mouthed back. Then,
suddenly I felt a spank on my bottom and
a firm hand on my shoulder. Unheralded (I
did not detect the odour of sulphur) the
principal had entered the classroom and
had crept up behind me, to deliver the pun-
Now, when it is too late to save my waist-
line, I discover I was right all along.
Experts now say that our bottoms are
Think of all those artery-clogging, vari-
hours spent going through emails, making
calls and writing proposals and eating lunch
while seated at our
desks. Then you
drive home and sit
some more in front
of the TV or com-
sitting is associated
with higher risk of
heart disease, dia-
betes, obesity, can-
cer, depression, muscle and joint problems---and sig-
Some even warn that the office chair (even the
$26,000 luxury vibrating kind for electrifying exec-
utives) are worse for our health than smoking. And
you know the crazy, wicked thing? Even working out
vigorously before or after work may not compensate
for extending sitting.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine says we
should begin to stand, move and take breaks for at
least two out of eight hours at work. Then, we should
gradually work up to spending at least half of our
eight-hour work days in what researchers call "light-
The idea is to stand while talking on the phone,
use the steps instead of the elevator, hold standing
meetings (Queen Elizabeth II keeps people standing
in some official meetings but the idea there is to
ensure brevity), walk over to a colleague s desk instead
of sending an email.
Simple stuff, the experts say. The point is to just
get off your rear end.
My eight-year-old-self is proof positive that the
Stand Up movement has merit. Back then, I was the
first to be picked for the "rounders" team on Fridays
and I beat the boys in races. I hung upside down on
the jungle gym. I turned cartwheels. I was fearless
when it came to running, jumping and trying new
After I had that spanked out of me, what happened?
By puberty, I had turned into a shy overeating (but
still fabulous) drone, persecuted by her bathroom
scale and unable to catch or throw a ball.
Had I kept standing, I could have been as famous
and clever as Winston Churchill, who used a standing
Today, convertible, adjustable standing desks are
catching on. English exercise scientist Dr John Buckley
programmed his sit/stand desk to notify him on his
computer to change his posture every 30 minutes.
Scandinavian workers use treadmill desks so they
can walk, and possibly whistle, while they work.
James Levine, an obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic,
says the reason some people seem to eat a lot, never
work out, yet never put on weight, is because they re
standing, walking and moving more throughout the
day, rather than sitting for hours on end.
Now, that s just being cruel, James. If it were that
simple, I would be elbowing Lupita Nyong o off the
red carpet by now.
But there is a lot to be said for getting off our rear
ends to improve our ends. Ernest Hemingway wrote
in a letter in 1950: "Writing and travel broaden your
ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up."
Another reason to emulate Papa Hemingway. Also,
I have a fear of losing bone mass and becoming the
Amazing Shrinking Woman. So a stroll in the sunshine
during work breaks can only help me hang on to the
five feet five inches allotted unto me.
Now, when you hear "Bottoms up," you will know
what I really mean---and you, me and my inner eight-
year-old child will have some stand-up fun in the
• Show me your motion at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stand and shake your booty while reading this
Today, convertible, adjustable standing desks
are catching on. English exercise scientist Dr
John Buckley programmed his sit/stand desk
to notify him on his computer to change his
posture every 30 minutes. Scandinavian
workers use treadmill desks so they can walk,
and possibly whistle, while they work.
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