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Can My iPad Help Me Be Healthier?

If you follow me on Twitter or read my personal blog, you probably know by now that I bought myself an iPad this week. The main reason I got it is because I’m a sucker for shiny new technology, but I also wanted to see if I could use it to help myself become a little less sedentary.

As I mentioned in my first two posts about fitness this month, there’s a growing body of research suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful to your health. I was interviewed about one such study a few months ago on the PRI show “The Takeaway,” and the evidence is fairly convincing: People who spend more hours watching TV also have a higher mortality rate than those who watch it less, even after accounting for exercise. Granted, it’s only a correlation, but the evidence converges quite well with several other studies.

But what am I supposed to do about it? My job requires me to spend long hours in front of a computer screen. If exercising a 30 or 40 minutes a day can’t prevent me from getting heart disease or cancer, what will? Some researchers, including David Dunstan, the lead researcher on the TV-watching study, suggest that just standing periodically, rather than sitting all day, can help a lot. That’s where the iPad comes in.

I’ve decided that during the workday, I should only use my iPad while I’m standing up. But it’s awkward holding the iPad with one hand and typing with the other, so I need some sort of a stand. But where would I put it? Fortunately, if it lives up to the hype, my iPad should be making one piece of furniture in my office obsolete: the bookcase.

To make my stand, I took a couple of old two-by-fours from my garage, and cut them on the bias. Then I attached one of the shelves from the bookcase to it, adding a stopper so the iPad won’t slide off the edge. Then I installed it in my bookcase. The iPad is already in place, logged in to my favorite website. Sure, the setup’s a little rough, but it’s quite functional.

The plan is to do all Twitter activity and recreational web surfing on the iPad, standing up. The computer will be work-only. So if I want to take a little Twitter break during the day, I have to stand up and use the iPad. I’ve been trying it during mini-breaks as I write this post, and even though I’m a little worn out from a very hard morning run, I’m quite comfortable standing and reading. The angled stand actually makes the iPad easier to use than when it’s flat on the desk.

Over the course of the next month, I’ll let you know how the Standing-At-The-iPad plan is working. Maybe it seems fine today because of the excitement of a new install, but will end up being a pain in the long run. Maybe I will decide I’d rather sit than tweet. For the record, I tweeted an average of 24.6 times per day for the week ending April 6. Let’s see if that rate goes down if I have to stand to use Twitter.

*This blog post was originally published at The Daily Monthly*

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