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.

todomvc.com is pretty dang cool

I recently had the opportunity to (read ‘curse of’) build a fancy modern website from the ground up. The client didn’t want the site to DO anything special, per-so, but it needed to look slick as shit and be highly maintainable in that enterprise kinda way.

To me this meant a backend that exposed API endpoints, and a completely disconnected front end. I’m a java dude, so – spring rest, some controllers, no jsp…etc. Simple, straightforward, testable, easy.

On the front end, I had used the javascript module pattern on a few projects. It was straightforward, but not terribly maintainable on an enterprise scale. So, I took a deep dive into the state of modern javascript frameworks.

Holy crap-in-my-eyes, they are like bunny rabbits. The last time I looked there was Dojo and YUI and this new kid jQuery that was up and coming. Sure I’ve used jQuery on a bunch of projects lately, but the last time I really did an ANALYSIS, this is what it was. I’ve used Dojo and YUI, in their old world forms, and they were OK enough.

So I started digging…and digging…and digging. I don’t think I’ve had this kind of analysis paralysis since trying to decide whether freemarker or velocity was better. My god so many of them are really good, in different ways. So many are pretty lame. Most have a few really bright spots and a lot of brown spots. There’s these new ways of thinking about JS, like the AMD pattern, dependency injection – WHAT?! DI for JS? Crazy.

I studied up on EmberJS, Backbone, Backbone-Marionette, AngularJS, CanJS, Knockout.js. On another front I looked into jQueryUI, Twitter Bootstrap, modern YUI, modern Dojo, myriad other jQuery plugins, bootstrap plugins. Dart. Closure. Clojure. (WTF?!)

On another front I read up on Underscore templates, Handlebars (already used and enjoyed mustache), Soy (Google Closure) templates. And on it went. Something of a disaster really. After a couple weeks of prototyping, testing, configuring, tinkering, debugging, mix n matching, one is left simply drooling and praying for 1999 to come back.

Anyway the point of this entirely lame rant is that I stumbled across something which, while it doesn’t tackle all of the tools/frameworks/template type above, it does a bang up job of hitting the high points and actually providing a reference implementation of the same app across many frameworks. I can’t take credit for it. I just think it’s cool.



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