Why I’m Walking and Working

Some fads are fads. Some fads are causes. This one is, I believe, a cause. Eight years ago I built my first walk-n-work desk for health reasons. As a software engineer, I sit for a living…or maybe I sit to my death. In any case I had back problems early on which were identified by doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists alike as “sitting injuries”.

So – I bought a treadmill and built a desk around it. I walked 3-4 hours a day while working. As a telecommuter I was fortunate to be able to do this. Combined with a reasonable diet and absolutely no other exercise, I lost around 35 pounds. Much less expensive that what I spent on doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists, and with better results.  I thought I might start a business making things like this for companies who cared about ergonomics and health!

Well…the thing broke down, I got lazy. I didn’t start a company. I moved and didn’t bring it with me…etc. Gained a bunch of weight back. Developed worsening back problems, neck problems, shoulder and wrist problems, gout, high blood pressure…

The worst of it was, a friend of mine responding to my gout, said “ah, rich mans disease.” I realize it’s an old saying, but I was still offended. By american standards I’m perhaps upper middle class but not rich, and even at upper middle class wages I have a very middle class lifestyle and a reasonable diet. But – he was right. Historically it was a rich mans disease. High fat foods, sedentary lifestyle…gout happens. My doctor said the best cure he had for gout was me losing weight.

It isn’t that I’m a big fat gluttonous slug (mostly…I do like some cake now and then); it’s that watching my calories, cutting out soda and most sweets, stopping when I’m full, all of it doesn’t much help. Even eating mostly home cooked, organic, veggie-centric, reasonable meals – sitting for a living leaves me heavy, and getting heavier.

I noticed the stand up desk explosion happening at several companies. It seemed like the up/down desk and my old friend the treadmill desk were taking off. I really should look into what is out there.

I told a friend I was ordering one and he laughed loudly. Ridiculous! He is also a software developer. I told him there was real danger in sitting for a living.

“Bah. Pseudoscience at best I’m sure!”

So I went a-looking, and I came across the initiative for this “fad”. Apparently some clever scientists actually studied the problem, and, shockingly, learned that sitting is bad for our health. Of course in some way we knew that, but HOW bad, well – here’s the Mayo Clinic on the matter…


On Sitting:

50 to 70 percent of people spend six or more hours sitting a day
20 to 35 percent spend four or more hours a day watching TV

On Living:

If Americans would cut their sitting time in half, their life expectancy would increase by roughly:

2 years (by reducing sitting to less than 3 hours a day)
1.4 years (by reducing TV time to less than 2 hours a day)

And I think software developers sit 8-14 hours a day!

Some typical media-ified content on the matter -


and here is the actual science it references: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108810

Here’s a punch line – exercise doesn’t really help -

“…demonstrates that inactive participants with high levels of sitting had the highest mortality rate, and the strong relationship of increased sitting time to mortality persisted, even among participants with relatively high levels of physical activity. ”

So – you can’t just do the gym thing an hour here or there. You actually have to GET UP out of the damn chair, and stand or walk. Since sitting burns 5/cal/hr, and standing only burns 15/cal/hr, I figure walking is the best option. That gets you >100/cal/hr – so in an 8 hour day you can burn 40, 120, or 1000+ calories, your choice. Obviously it isn’t just about calories, but that is where it starts. Get rid of the fat, get the body working naturally again, and the health will follow.

I find that I can’t REALLY walk 8 hours a day, at least not yet. But I can walk a lot. Anything is better than what I used to do. And the real kicker is this: I have better focus, concentration, and interest in what I am doing. Probably more blood to the brain or something, but, yay walk-n-work.

Some other articles if you are interested:




http://www.lifespanfitness.com/workplacesolutions-treadmill-desk-and-bike-desk-research.html  ..

I’ll report back on this blog if I actually manage to lose weight, and what type of steps/miles I burn.

Spring WebMvc Unit Test fails. “Caused by: java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: A ServletContext is required to configure default servlet handling”

Sometimes when you are using Spring java config and trying to run a unit test, you’ll find that you cannot run the tests unless you comment out @EnableWebMVC, which can cost you some time (or at least it did me).  The runner complains that “A ServletContext is required to configure default servlet handling” while you think to yourself “why do I care?”

The solution?  A simple combination of Spring profiles, and a custom test config class.

First, your webapp intializer which probably sets up your context.  Alternatively this may be in your web.xml.  In either case the important thing is that you are setting an active profile on the servlet dispatcher.

Things to note are the injection of the application config into the root context, the web config into the dispatcher context, and the active profile setting on the dispatcher.

public class WebAppInitializer implements WebApplicationInitializer {

    public void onStartup(ServletContext container) {

        //Load Annotation Based Configs
    	AnnotationConfigWebApplicationContext rootContext = new AnnotationConfigWebApplicationContext();
        container.addListener(new ContextLoaderListener(rootContext));

        ... root config stuff ...

        // Create the dispatcher servlet's Spring application context
        AnnotationConfigWebApplicationContext dispatcherContext = new AnnotationConfigWebApplicationContext();

        // Register and map the dispatcher servlet
        ServletRegistration.Dynamic dispatcher =
                container.addServlet("dispatcher", new DispatcherServlet(dispatcherContext));
        dispatcher.setInitParameter("spring.profiles.active", "container"); 


Next, your MVCConfiguration.java. Things to note are just the profile to run in, and the fact that this contains your @EnableWebMvc.

public class MVCConfiguration extends WebMvcConfigurerAdapter {

    public void addResourceHandlers(ResourceHandlerRegistry registry) {

    ... The rest of your mvc config related stuff...

Then, your ApplicationConfiguration.java. Nothing in particular to note here except that it is your primary app config, no web mvc related stuff, and no profile specified.

@ImportResource( { "classpath:/spring/security.xml" } )
@PropertySource(value = { "classpath:some.properties"})
public class ApplicationConfiguration  {

    private Environment environment;

    ... Various beans for your application that aren't web specific and should be made available to tests as well...
    public @Bean
    MongoDbFactory mongoDbFactory() throws Exception {
        UserCredentials userCredentials = new UserCredentials(environment.getProperty("mongodb.username"), environment.getProperty("mongodb.password"));
        return new SimpleMongoDbFactory(mongo().getObject(), environment.getProperty("mongodb.database"), userCredentials);

Next, your TestConfig.java, which explicitly excludes the class that contains @EnableWebMvc, and runs it its own profile. Things to note are the customization of the @ComponentScan which has specific exclusions for the MvcConfiguration and the WebAppInitializer as well as the @Import of the ApplicationConfiguration and the setting of the active profile.

                    excludeFilters = { 
                              type = FilterType.ASSIGNABLE_TYPE, 
                              value = { MVCConfiguration.class, WebAppInitializer.class }
public class TestConfig {


Finally, the unit test which previously was blowing up because it wanted a servlet context, should now work by simply swapping out the config it uses for bootstrapping the context.

public class AnyTestRequireSpring {

    public void testSomeBeanBehavior() {

Hope this helps….

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