Sitting: Finding a Healthy Alternative

A healthy alternative to sitting at a desk.So, while we’re rethinking how the world fits us and how we fit the world, let’s get real basic. Many of us make a living sitting in front of a computer and now that the medical experts of the world have determined that the simple act of sitting is as dangerous as smoking maybe we should give some thought to how our body occupies space.

It didn’t take me a high-falootin’ medical report to tell me that sitting sucks.  Or, more accurately, sitting in America sucks. As a 6’2″ medium build man, regular chairs at a desk make me slouch and collapse into a soft, mushy heap, leaving me feeling achy and generally crappy. I’ve tried kneeling chairs, standing desks, adjustable monitor arms and even a drummer’s throne that allowed for adjustment and swivel. But it was always just a matter of time before the aches returned and I had to go through the whole desk/chair reconfiguration again.

One place I do like sitting is on the floor. Sitting on the floor allows me to stretch or squat any way I want and stretching just feels good. I like to sit on the floor cross-legged or with my legs in a kind of runner’s stretch. In fact the floor is so superior to any chair it makes you wonder how the badly designed chair ever caught on.  But moving my computer to the floor would move me away from good window views and away from my super-giant, built in desk that I really love. Plus, the energy flow on the floor just doesn’t seem conducive to working.  So, I thought, what if I could raise all the comforts of sitting on the floor up about two feet?

Raise The Floor For Healthier, Happier Sitting

Sketch of healthy office chair platform.In my mind’s eye I envisioned a platform consisting of a wide, flat, wooden surface that would allow me to sit cross-legged, in a squat, or in nearly any other position I would normally sit in on the floor.  The platform I envisioned would sit about 4 inches below the surface of my desk rather than the standard ten inches below that a chair normally rises to. This means that I would actually sit in front of the desk rather than under it. There would be only a small difference in elevation between sitting surface and desk top.

I began sketching it out, and the design is as simple as it can be. It’s basically a wide wooden box or a low table that provides enough room to move around as if you were on the floor but higher. So, for the purpose of writing this blog (and hopefully ending my eternal quest for the ultimate office chair) I decided to take a little trip out to the woodshed to see what lumber I might find there.

Reconfigure an old table to create a healthy office seating platform.I’m not a carpenter, so that’s why all the delay in starting this project.  Once out in my storage shed I found, to my surprise, an old table and stool set that I had stored. It was a little table that my wife and I had in our kitchen and we used it before we had kids as a little place to eat breakfast or share our morning coffee. When the girls began growing into toddlers we outgrew the space it provided and eventually I tore it from my wife’s grasp (She hates parting with anything she associates with good memories.) And, out to the shed it went.

So, there it stood, this morning, a little dusty but maybe, just maybe, the answer to my quest.  So, with a little thought, a bit of sawing and about twenty wood screws I was able to transform it into the office chair of the perfect dimensions for me.  I am actually writing this post from atop it and I have to say, so far, so good!

Healthy Sitting PlatformIt’s not for everybody and that’s the point. (Standard chairs are 18″ from the floor to the seat. Who decided this?) It suits my needs but, if you’re the type who loves to stretch out on the floor, it just might be perfect for you too. I would imagine that it’s kind of one of those things where when you sit in it you either love it or hate it, though I haven’t shown it to anyone yet. I liken it to the difference between people who like a soft mattress and those who like to sleep on the floor.

If you sit a lot when you work I recommend giving your seating some thought. Especially if you find yourself knotted up and feeling bad at the end of the day.