George Nelson of Herman Miller, who with Bob Propst developed the Action Office, wrote over fifty years ago that "the Lord never meant a man to be immobilized in one position." We are meant to move. But standing desks are not the answer for everyone or every environment, and a recent (and often misinterpreted) Cochrane report has shown that people with adjustable height desks, who have the option of standing or sitting at the push of a button, tend to migrate toward sitting.
Perhaps another solution might be the new HOVR. It is “the world’s first device that produces unconscious movement that burns additional calories while an individual remains seated”- It looks like some K-TEL exercise thing that you bought on late night television, a pair of disks for your feet connected to a bar that hangs on a strap. The inventors describe it:
HOVR is a purely mechanical, patent pending device that activates muscles producing movement of the lower body and engaging the core using gravity, kinetic energy and harmonic motion. Such movement may provide some of the health benefits of hourly “walks” recommended by ergonomists, without requiring you to leave your desk or interrupting your concentration.
And when you watch the videos, you see people’s feet sort of moving at random, all the time.
They claim that it burns calories (17 percent or more than just sitting). Spread out over a work day, that can make a big difference: “Using HOVR during an eight hour day burns approximately the same number of calories as walking leisurely for 45 mins (depending on the pace).” It also “Improved cardiovascular and joint health, metabolism, and reduced venous stasis”.
The proponents also note that “Unconscious movement keeps you more mentally alert.” However I think they understate a benefit here- many of us are fidgety, like the little kids who constantly move their hanging feet. I am no kid, but have never been able to sit still, which is why I became devoted to what I call my active office, where I am constantly moving. The HOVR might well soak up some of the excess energy and make those hyperactive types more productive.
The HOVR is really cheap, It comes in either a freestanding version or one you connect to your desk. It gets you moving without literally standing out in the office. It is also apparently “One of the first products specifically designed to create NEAT™ movement, HOVR was certified NEAT™ (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) by the Mayo Clinic in 2015.”
NEAT is a neat idea from the Mayo Clinic, which focuses on the calories burned doing normal, non-exercise activities. It apparently is the result of work by James Levine of the Mayo, who TreeHugger reported way back in 2005 used a treadmill desk. We quoted him five years ago:
Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day. The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it's time for the soul of the nation to rise.
Unfortunately that tightly controlled corporate environment often doesn’t tend to let souls, or bodies rise. The HOVR might be a great in-between solution that at least keeps the soles, and souls, moving a bit.
More on the HOVR website.