A stand-up way to sit down

The Mobis leaning stool from Focal Upright Furniture promises to save you from the dreaded "sitting disease."

The Mobis leaning stool from Focal Upright Furniture promises to save you from the dreaded "sitting disease."

If you are slouching on the couch as you read this, I apologize. I'm killin' ya.

We now know that sitting is lethal. Researchers say that sitting--as opposed to standing or moving--contributes to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, back ache, tight hamstrings, stiff necks and flat butts. (Actually, I made that up about the flat butt, but the rest has been clearly established.)

In fact, scientists in the Netherlands showed that even gym rats cannot out-run the "sitting disease," concluding that "one hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate for the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting." Ouch.  

Ever since sitting was declared the smoking of our generation, health-conscious computer slaves and primal living aficionados have been experimenting with expensive treadmill desks and home-made standing desks. I have tried my own version of a treadmill desk with the Surf Shelf, a sturdy, inexpensive plastic shelf that can be strapped onto a treadmill or exercise bicycle. While it is a great, low-commitment way to try out upright computing, I rarely use it for more than an hour at a time and never when I have keystroke-heavy tasks to do on my laptop. Since it is designed primarily for watching video or internet surfing, it is just not comfortable or efficient for typing.

For most of us, standing all day is just not sustainable. Martin Keen, founder and designer of the innovative Keen footwear line, has now turned his attention to this aspect of the problem. His Focal Upright Furniture desks and chairs accommodate a perching posture that is half-way between sitting and standing. The pivoting, adjustable, Mobis stool is $519 and promises to keep your "thighs lowered and hips flexible, returning your spine to its healthy S-curve." Even better, Focal claims the chair is fun, which might keep you at your standing desk just a little bit longer. 

As it turns out, Keen's pivot from footwear to ergonomic stools is an inspiring mid-life shift that could encourage boomers to revisit the dreams of their youth.  Watch the INC Magazine video below to see how Keen finally accessed his "burning desire" through design.