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Standing Up To The New York Times

Brace yourselves. Standing Desks are not a miracle elixir with magical cure-all benefits.


The New York Times Aaron Carroll has published an article slating the growing culture of standing desks. Carroll writes that “standing desks have become trendy…research suggests that warnings about sitting at work are overblown, and that standing desks are overrated” This has resulted in a number of spin off articles from lesser known sites extrapolating that standing desks are unnecessary.

In the NYT online, Carroll quickly cites several studies to support his opinion piece including Rempel and Krause (University of California) published work in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine from July 2018 which states that there is little evidence to support the notion that standing desks improve cardiovascular health.

The NYT article has a grandiose title and by-line designed to grab you by the collar, pull you close and challenge your preconceptions. The NYT article throws out words such as “over rated.” Whilst Carroll proposes that standing desks are “not cures” and that “standing is not exercise.” Carefully worded statements designed to decimate the growing belief that standing desks are a good thing that benefit your health.

The article is written by a medical professor of Paediatrics. The author Carroll has constructed his argument based on several studies from specialists in occupational health that explain the correlation between long sitting periods and ill health only being bad when it relates to people who are doing that outside of the work environment and there are very few links between workplace sitting and increased mortality. Suggesting rather that the sitting stats are a marker for social influences to ill health such as unemployment.

Interestingly the New York Times would probably like you to forget that in June they produced a less polarising article on the matter of "exercise versus standing" which cited research that illustrated standing is part of the solution rather than a replacement for exercise. They write "you probably need to do both."


MD of iwantastandingdesk.com Nick White explains that common sense, moderation and breaking the sedentary habit is at the core of the health benefit of a standing desk culture.

"You need to take responsibility for yourself, your health and well-being. Nobody is saying that standing desks are a cure for anything. They are however an important part of the solution. If you sit on your bottom all day, eat poorly and don’t exercise your standing desks isn’t going to magically fix that. Take responsibility for your own lifestyle. A standing desk is a part of the solve. Take the stairs. Park your car a little further away from work and walk. Using a standing desk isn’t a cure but it’ll help you rid yourself of an unhealthy mentality. Legitimate research exists that proves standing desks used in moderation and with sitting breaks will benefit your health and productivity in numerous ways as part of an overall solution"


So White doesn’t believe standing desks are a magical cure-all elixir either. Does this mean they are overrated as Carroll writes or as some spin off articles extrapolated …”unnecessary”?


Perhaps the evidence of cardiovascular benefit has yet to be successfully empirically measured however this absolutely does not negate that a huge 800,000 participant study by the UK’s National Health Service found that, compared with those who sat the least, people who sat the longest had a 112 per cent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a 147 per cent increase in cardiovascular problems and a 90 per cent increase in death from heart attack and stroke.


Resultingly the NHS in the UK now promotes standing as being part of an overall prescription for healthier living in order to reduce one of the biggest threats to our national health which is the populations growing sedentary habit.


Writing that standing desks are “not a cure” and “standing isn’t exercise” uses a straw-man notion that argues against a point that no one was making. It is unhealthy thinking, that whilst it might garner traffic like click-bait content it doesn’t contribute to the conversation everyone else is having.

Abram Falk commented “This is a strange and unnecessary attack on a device that many find helpful. Nobody was claiming that standing desks were a miracle health device”

Mike from New York wrote “No one argued that standing was exercise. This entire article is addressing a straw man argument. Standing -- for short periods mixed in with walks and sitting -- engages muscles that otherwise go dormant, improves blood flow, improves focus”


Another upvoted comment reads “I have not found anyone, anywhere who suggested that standing was exercise.”

The world’s greatest athletes advocate for healthy mentality. They believe in the power of positivity. Standing desks encourage that mentality. This can’t be empirically proven but it is broadly recognised as an essential element of success.

“small, positive changes, consistently made are a winning combination in life and in business” - Sally Gunnel the only female British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles. Speaking at a health and well-being seminar she was delivering to businesses.

 

We live in an age where written pieces must be polarised and there is little room left for common sense. As such we believe impactful influencers such as The New York Times have a responsibility to foster ideas that contribute positively to society.  Inactivity is a major health issue. It is the reason our children’s expected lifespans are 5 years shorter now. Taking a position that standing desks are bad because science hasn’t proven the cardiovascular benefits as emphatically as they would like whilst ignoring the myriad of proven health benefits and pro-standing research isn’t offering a balanced take on the movement. It’s getting traffic with controversy. Omitting the pro standing desk research because it doesn’t suit the narrative is unfair to the reader. We felt it was time that someone stood up for standing up. If carrots are suddenly proven not to give you night sight, do you stop eating them as part of a healthy diet? No. We say don’t jack in your jack desks just yet. Include them amongst all your healthy choices. 

We all need to change poor habitual stationary behaviour. Standing desks are not a fix-all but they are part of the solution toolkit for combating a sedentary lifestyle. 

Want me to prove it?  Bookmark the blog. Then stand up. Listen to your body. It’s telling you that this is better.  Keep at it and this writer believes you’ll find the results are irrefutable.

Standing desks are available throughout this website. Carrots are available elsewhere.

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New NHS Guidelines Recommend Working Standing

In the face of increasing evidence that sitting too much is leading to serious illness and obesity, the NHS website has published a set of guidelines on how (and why we should) sit down less. 

The piece explains how some people are sitting for over 7 hours a day and 10 hours for the older generation. This in turn slows down the metabolism, reduces our body’s natural ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down fat. In short, sitting is making us overweight and ill.


I Want A Standing Desk UK Blog recently reported on Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s vision for the future of the NHS being preventative so it comes as no surprise that the new guidelines include the recommendation that people integrate standing desks into their own working days. Mr Hancock is a standing desk user himself and recommends that teams undertake their meetings at standing desks. The health secretary explained that standing meetings tend to be shorter and more efficient.

The NHS have published the Start Active, Stay Active Report which recommends breaking up sitting with short two minutes bouts of activity. A Panel of experts have suggested taking "an active break from sitting every 30 minutes." This can be accomplished with a variable height standing desk whilst allowing you to work through the sitting break.

"Breaking up sitting time engages your muscles and bones, and gives all our bodily functions a boost – a bit like revving a car's engine," says Professor Dunstan.

The NHS has included the following tips to reduce sitting time:

  • work standing
  • stand on the train or bus
  • take the stairs and walk up escalators
  • set a reminder to get up every 30 minutes
  • stand or walk around while on the phone
  • take a walk break every time you take a coffee or tea break
  • walk to a co-worker's desk instead of emailing or calling
  • swap some TV time for more active tasks or hobbies

I Want A Standing Desk UK Blog has written about UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock's belief that physical activity is "miracle cure" here.


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Our Children’s Life Expectancy Has Dropped by 5 Years

In light of the shocking revelation that for the first time in history children’s life expectancy is 5 years shorter than their parents designedtomove.org has published a powerful video showing us what children would choose to do with 5 years extra to live. 

In 2010 Nike formed a group of 70+ organisations whose mission it was to provide a framework to combat inactivity and understand a path to solving growing sedentary behaviour in children.

After initial launch the Designed To Move report has been refined, validated and published by The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE). The group refers to inactivity as an epidemic that threatens our health, happiness and prosperity.

The report can be downloaded here.

iwantastandingdesk.com and our twitter Standing Desk UK champions activity in schools and workplaces. We are here to help you be ambassadors for the change needed to fix the increase of sedentary behaviour which affects mental and physical health for everyone in your organisation. 

We offer standing desk trials for schools and offer free advice to companies on how to successfully integrate standing desks into their workplaces. We proudly stand up and shout about the designedtomove campaign, offering you solutions to help give the children their 5 years back.

 

 

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Matt Hancock, UK Health Secretary says Physical Activity is a “Miracle Cure”

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who tomorrow will announce a new health initiative urging employers to push movement in the workplace, says he believes it’s the duty of schools, GPs, teachers and employers to promote daily activity as he describes standing desks and movement as a “miracle cure” that cuts the risk of many illnesses.

“Our message should be that movement is medicine.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said at the International Society for Physical Activity and Health Congress in London.

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary

Employers are encouraged to build movement into their workers days by buying them standing desks and encouraging standing for meetings. The health secretary who himself uses a standing desk has made the plea in a bid to counter the ever growing issue of sedentary lifestyles lowering our productivity and importantly our lifespans.

“Research has shown that sitting for eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 percent” reports Laura Donnelly, Health Editor of The Daily Telegraph

The health secretary has encouraged companies to integrate sit-stand desks such as iwantastandingdesk.com’s range of Jack Desks and to avoid seated meetings where possible.

Mr Hancock explained that not only were these measures designed to encourage benefits to health but also productivity and multiple other gains.

“Workplaces can make a difference; encouraging breaks, offering standing desks, having standing meetings…I know from personal experience that having a standing desk can help you get some exercise and improve your productivity”

Not only schools and businesses but GPs are also encouraged by Mr Hancock to push the benefits of standing and movement. “Doctors should not be afraid to tell patients that they need to be more active,” he told the London summit.

The health secretary has since urged businesses to also offer free fruit to reduce the burden on the NHS and encourage healthy living.

 

Sources: The Daily Telegraph , Daily Mail

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Sitting Linked to Nine More Cancers

Couple sat watching TVSitting for hours on end is linked to nine more cancers than we thought, according to the cancer expert who is helping to re-write the exercise guidelines. Charles E Matthews, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, warns we need more physical activity than we thought - but more importantly, we need to sit less.

Just one hour of TV a day puts even the most active of us at a higher risk of not just breast and colon cancer - which we already knew - but also nine other cancers including lung and head or neck.

"Watching TV is the major competitor to going out and being more active," he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Austin, Texas. "This is where moderate activity like a brisk walk or things around the house come in. Anything that is not sitting is good."

Now we're not suggesting standing and watching the TV at home but if you've been non-sedentary at work using a standing desk you can afford some rest time watching your favourite TV programme for an hour or so!

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Walking the dog or pottering in the garden could extend life expectancy

The Daily Telegraph published an article this week which validates how low level activity on a regular basis improves our health and wellbeing...something we're always banging the drum about with our standing desks...

"Pottering around the garden or walking the dog is enough to help older men live longer, a new study suggests. The research found that half an hour a day of any level of physical activity is linked to a 17 per cent reduction in the risk of death in older men.

Older Man active in allotmentUK health advice suggests 150 minutes moderate to vigorous physical activity, with bouts of at least 10 minutes recommended. But the new research suggests the total amount of time spent on activity is more important - with gentle movement enough to make a major difference.

The researchers from University College London tracked more than 1,000 men, with an average age of 78, who wore an  accelerometer- a portable gadget that continuously tracks the volume and intensity during waking hours for seven days. During the monitoring period, which averaged around five years, 194 of the men died. The findings showed total amount of time spent active was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause.

Each additional 30 minutes a day of light intensity activity - such as gentle gardening or taking the dog for a walk - was associated with a 17 per cent reduction in the risk of death. Those managing half an hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day saw the risk of death fall by 33 per cent, the research found."

So once again this is another piece of evidence that shows how the human body benefits from low level but regular activity. Sitting 8.5 hours every working day in front of your PC is not conducive with a healthy life style.

The option?  A sit-stand desk allows you to work actively for chosen periods of your day. It's a no-brainer!

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Chris Trickett February 21, 2018 2 tags (show) Add a comment

Prostate cancer kills more people than breast cancer

Prostate Cancer UK LogoProstate cancer has overtaken breast cancer to become the third deadliest type of the disease in Britain, new research has found. For the first time, figures show that more men are dying from prostate cancer than women from breast cancer, amid warnings from charities and health campaigners that more investment is needed.

The research, published today by Prostate Cancer UK, reveals that 11,819 men died of prostate cancer in 2015, the equivalent of one every 45 minutes, compared with 11,442 women who died of breast cancer.

Back in 2014 we blogged about the important link between physical activity while at work and prostate cancer: those who worked as bakers, barbers, labourers and in other professions that involve standing for much of the day were far less likely to get prostate cancer than those with a more sedentary role, such as civil servants and those working in office jobs.

If you work in an office job, stop and think about how much of your day you spend sitting down. We'd guess that it's probably at least 8 hours - and as humans, we weren't designed for so much sedentary time. As the years have crept forward, our lives have become far more sedentary - which explains why we now have far higher incidences of problems such as heart disease, obesity and, indeed, prostate cancer.

According to research recently published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, the simple fact of having an office desk job can increase the risk of prostate cancer in men. The solution? A standing desk in your workplace. A height adjustable desk allows you to stand while you work, burning calories during your working day and benefiting your body in a huge number of different ways. You may think, if you're an office worker, that you have no choice when it comes to staying seated - but the health benefits of stand up desks are too great to ignore.

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Scandinavian inspired exercise classes brain-train children

Active kids jumpingOliver Holcroft and Rufus Gordon-Dean, ex-Army officers who between them spent 700 days battling the Taliban in Helmand Province, are at the forefront of one of London’s fastest growing trends.

The pair of former public schoolboys have set up their own preschool company, offering physical, brain-stimulating classes to children between the ages of two and six.

After founding Tarka London in 2015, they are the talk of the west London schools circuit, with a string of celebrities among hundreds of mothers rushing to sign up their children.

Inspired by the Scandinavian approach to primary education, which places exercise and coordination above classroom, blackboard-led learning, the pair have carefully devised their programme alongside health and pediatric experts.

Their approach is supported by myriad studies, including recent research published by the University of Illinois, which found that healthy children have notably larger brains by the age of 10.

Using colour co-ordinated equipment, the pair put their young kids through a series of drills designed to maximise engagement and get their neurons - which connect at a rate of 700 to 1,000 a second - firing on all cylinders.

The secret to their success, they say, is simple - and yet notably absent from the services provided by many nurseries and primary schools across the country.

“We looked closely at Scandinavia, at how the education system works in Norway, Sweden and  Denmark.

“Here in the UK, 90 per cent of money spent on our children’s education is invested between the ages of six and 22, and yet 90 per cent of the human brain develops between birth and the age of six. It’s a completely skewed approached.

“Children’s brains are so malleable at that age, that’s why it’s so important to focus on the basics while they’re young.

“We’re obsessed with exam results in this country, but if you look across the world, the system which works best is the model we’re trying to promote. And you have to ask why we’re not using it.”

This fits in perfectly with our thoughts and ethos around activity in education and why we've designed and developed the EIGER Student classroom standing desk. UK schools are now starting to introduce them into their environments to create flexible, active learning environments.

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The National News!

ITV News LogoThis week we've been featured in the National news with our EIGER Student standing desk and one of our customers. Kewstoke Primary in Kewstoke, Weston-super-Mare were approached by The Times. The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Sun about them purchasing EIGER Students and why.

To finish it off ITV News cameras went to the school to interview Sarah Harding (the Headteacher) and some of the children.

You can see the ITV News article here - http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2017-10-04/on-their-own-two-feet-somerset-school-gets-kids-working-at-standing-desks/

Sarah was keen to add options to the way the children learn in the school and not just have them sedentary. So far it's a winner. 

Sarah used part of the Governments Sport Premium fund to fund them as it's a superb and sustainable way of getting the children "every day active".

Great news about a great school. Needless to say we've been inundated with interested schools about our FREE trial offer.

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National Fitness Day...

UK Active National Fitness Day LogoNational Fitness Day began with a bang this morning as Britain’s leading TV and Radio stations beamed ukactive’s live kick-off event to millions across the country. BBC Breakfast and Sky News were broadcasting live from the London launch event, while BBC Radio 5 Live and Global Radio (the company behind Capital Radio, Radio X, LBC, Heart and many other stations) carried extensive features on National Fitness Day.

The kick-off event was led by Strictly Come Dancing star Darcey Bussell, who was joined at Everyone Active’s Paddington Recreation Ground by hundreds of participants for a mass-workout to her DDMIX dance fitness concept.

Darcey was joined by stars from the venue operator Everyone Active’s Sporting Champions programme, with Olympic silver medallist hurdler Colin Jackson and Olympic gold medallist Hockey forward Alex Danson taking part in the early morning workout. 

National Fitness Day, co-ordinated by not-for-profit health body ukactive, sees the nation celebrate the fun and thrills of physical activity through a range of free events and activity sessions. Last year’s National Fitness Day got over a million people active across 18,000 events – making it the most active day of 2016 – with this year’s event on course to significantly surpass it.

Of course we did our bit whilst standing at our desk! It's one of the benefits of what we do. To be able to work and improve your health and wellbeing at the same time is nothing short of fantastic.

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Nick White September 27, 2017 2 tags (show) Add a comment

FSB launches new wellbeing campaign for small business community

Federation of Small Businesses LogoThe Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is today launching a new campaign with the health and wellbeing of small business owners, their staff and the self-employed at heart. The new drive from FSB will help its members - and the wider 5.5 million-strong small business community across the UK - reap the benefits of a positive approach to wellbeing, which are felt not only by the business they run but also by the economy and society as a whole.

The campaign has been launched in response to a rise in incidents of health and mental health conditions across the UK’s workforce, including business owners and the self-employed.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, explained, “Wellbeing can help increase our productivity, improve our performance and reduce absenteeism. There is a clear business case, however, the benefits are felt just as much in our health as individuals, but also by our communities and the wider economy.”

The average UK white collar worker is sedentary for 8.6 hours every working day and it's madness. To maintain a healthy body we need to move somewhere between 6-10km a day. Not much chance of that if we're glued to a chair sat in front of a computer.

In Scandinavia, 90% of white collar workers use a sit-stand desk. In the UK it's less than 1%.

Standing desks have a part to play in the UK's need for healthier and more productive workplaces. 

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Nick White September 18, 2017 2 tags (show) Add a comment

Did £1bn after 2012 UK Olympics get any more people doing sport?

London 2012 Olympic LogoFive years ago the London Olympic Games came to a close. They were inspirational and the UK was fixated. At the time, the country was promised that the end of the Games would not mean the end of the success story, that there would be a lasting legacy for sport participation. But it hasn't happened. 

The government gave Sport England £1bn to invest in grassroots sports, and Jeremy Hunt, then Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said the Games provided an "extraordinary chance" to "reinvigorate this country's sporting habits for both the young and the old".

He described it as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity, a real golden moment for the UK".

But there has been virtually no increase in participation in sport. The UK is still one of the most inactive countries in the world.

We love our sport and exercise at I Want A Standing Desk but we always maintain that what is the most effective activity is "every day activity".

Sport should be the "icing on the cake" over and above walking, stair climbing and of course standing.

Standing desks are not the total solution but they can play a significant part in getting a large percentage of the UK population out of a chair and active on a daily basis. 

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Lawrence Dallaglio Demands Fitness Ratings for UK Schools

Lawrence Dallaglio Ex England Rugby Captain ImageEx England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio wants Ofsted to focus on physical activity as much as academic achievement. Assessing how physically active pupils are as part of a school's performance would have a positive impact on the childhood obesity problem.

One in three UK children leave primary school overweight or obese. Research suggests that without intervention 85% of them will become obese adults.

He pointed out how little focus there is in education on sport and nutrition and the seemingly unstoppable increase in childhood inactivity and related health problems.

UK children were ranked the eighth most overweight in a recent OECD study of 26 countries.

We're totally in agreement with Lawrence Dallaglio - educating a new generation on the importance of activity and nutrition is just plain common sense. 

Of course we would include in that how detrimental to health and wellbeing becoming a habitual chair sitter is. Introducing standing desk options into learning environments can only result in healthier and more productive children and in the future, adults.

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How To Quit The Sedentary Lifestyle

Aileen Flynn is clinical specialist physiotherapist in musculoskeletal care at the the Beacon Hospital, Sandyford, Dublin. She is also a triathlete. She recently wrote this article for The Irish Times...

Office Worker SatModern life has resulted in many of us adapting to a sedentary lifestyle. If you are desk-bound at work and sit on your journey to and from it, you likely fall into this category.

Sitting, which has been dubbed “the new smoking”, comes with its own risks. It increases load on the spine and discs resulting in slouching, or the loss in the natural curve of the spine. Over time this can cause changes in muscle length and affect the strength and performance of the postural muscles in the spine and shoulders. In turn, this can result in pain and predisposition to injury. Muscles are healthiest when used, so it is no surprise that staying seated for eight or nine hours a day has negative repercussions.

As a chartered physiotherapist, I see many people with postural-related neck and back pain, namely aches and pains that can develop related to sitting, whether it be at a desk or driving. Many of these physical problems can be treated with physiotherapy to relieve the pain in the short-term.

The long-term solution includes advice on correcting posture and finding a solution for sitting or standing in a more efficient way that reduces load on the spine and prevents reoccurrence.

20-20-20

For those who sit at a desk and experience (or would simply like to prevent) neck and back pain, I recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stand up and focus on a point 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Even this short break will allow your spine to experience some relief and reduced load. It will also allow the small muscles of your eyes to rest, as well as the muscles around your shoulders and neck.

Circling your shoulders, turning your head gently from side to side, and reaching both arms up overhead are other good ways to reduce the negative effects of sitting. Standing desks are also becoming common in the UK workplace, and something I recommend quite regularly for clients.

Health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle include increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, and depression. The evidence is strong that these risks are greatly reduced by engaging in an active lifestyle.

Active individuals are less likely to have a hip or spinal fracture, and they exhibit higher levels of cardiovascular and muscular fitness. They are also more likely to achieve weight maintenance and have a healthier body mass and composition than sedentary individuals.

Exercising and standing can help reverse the negative effects associated with sitting. The World Health Organisation recommends that 18- to 64-year-olds do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week. Alternatively, they can opt for at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.

Activity can be easily integrated into daily routines. It should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes and can include transportation, occupational, housework or sports activities.

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Trials of Standing Desks in Manchester Coucil

Standing Desks at Trafford CouncilWe have put 3 standing desks (sit-stand) into one of Manchester's largest and most forward thinking Council offices for a 6 week trial.

Today we attended their Health and Wellbeing day to explain face to face with employees the benefits of active working and standing desks. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

In the UK just 1% of office workers use any form of sit-stand desk compared to Scandinavia's 90%.

The employees were really quite unaware of how long they were sedentary and the implications of it.

Everyone who we spoke with were extremely keen to test the JackDesk's and EIGER'S. 

We'll keep you informed.

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Nick White July 05, 2017 2 tags (show) Add a comment
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