Up Go the Feet

Sometimes when people give up their seat for me — as they ought — they accompany this generous gesture with the words “I’ve been sitting all day.” “Me too!” I say, happily taking the weight off my feet. If I’ve sat on my arse all day — and it’s definitely my English arse I sit on, not an American ass — then what I most want to do come evening is sit on it some more. But I do like to change where I sit on it. In the day I’m at my desk in one of those Herman Miller Aeron chairs that make one feel like a mid-level executive with back problems. For a while in the afternoon I move to a red leather chair that tilts back like a prototype of the first-ever business-class airplane seat in order to read, i.e. induce a nap. Having recovered from my nap, I put in a further quarter-hearted shift in my Aeron before moving to the living-room sofa for some real sitting: sitting in the sense of almost lying down with all parts of the body evenly supported. “Up go the feet,” I say out loud and from then until bed-time they come down only reluctantly.

Ben Crair, a proud sitter and a story editor for The New Republic, asked a bunch of professional writers about the growing trend of standing (or treadmill) desks. Geoff Dyer, quoted above, is a proud day-long sitter; Zoë Heller wrote that “sitting is the least of my writing sins. The cigarette and Diet Coke habit is a much more pressing concern.” You might not feel as passionate about the right to the sedentary life as Crair, but he does offer the most sensible solution to those horrifying medical consequences we keep hearing about: “The solution should not be to sit less, but to work less.”