About a year ago, I raised my desk so I could stand for most of my work day. I wrote about it last September, a couple of months into the “experiment” which turned into a permanent change.
I originally raised my desk after I read in several places that sitting too long is bad for you. Even if you are a person who exercises and eats well, sitting too much is a no-no.
Men’s Journal magazine ran a piece by Laird Hamilton explaining when you are sitting “you are crunching yourself into a position that engages some muscles and relaxes others in a way that creates an unhealthy imbalance. When you stand up, there is a pull on your back, which results in back soreness…Studies have linked sitting to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer: the more you sit, the shorter you will live.”
The writer also said when he drives after exercising his muscles tighten up. I drive soon after I exercise most days because I exercise before I drive to work in the morning. And my muscles tighten up when I drive each morning.
A The Wall Street Journal piece quoted Dr. Anup Kanodia, a researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University, as saying, “I consider sitting like smoking and alcohol abuse.” That’s pretty darn serious. He also said when you stand you burn 50% more calories. That’s pretty cool.
While I don’t have a job requiring me to sit at a desk for eight hours a day, I do tend to sit a lot, either at a desk, in my car, or in meetings.
Before I raised my desk, I tried to remember to get up walk around during the work day. I put a post-it on my computer that said “walk around,” and I noticed it for a while, but as happens with that type of thing it kind of disappeared into the background.
Then, I tried setting alarms on my smartphone to remind myself to get up and walk around, but that only worked when I was at my desk (because in meetings I turn off my phone and I can’t get up and walk around when I am driving unless I pull over.)
When I raised my desk, I chose to elevate two of the four sections of my workstation—the middle section where the computer is, and the section to the left which now looks like a counter top. To the right, the part at sitting height allows me sit when I want to.
That turned out to be a brilliant solution; a wonderful set-up for me. The idea is not to stand all day, but just to make sure I’m not sitting all day.
Whenever I use the computer, I stand. At times, I use the counter top on the left side to do some standing work including when someone comes to talk with me, like a counter in a café.
Raising the desk was a great idea because it really forced the issue. Alternatively, you can get something to lift your computer off of your desk. A milk crate will do the trick.
My legs get tired if I am at my computer all day. When I feel tired, I can sit down and, with my smartphone, I can still do some e-mails.
My legs used to get incredibly tired standing at parties. With stronger muscles for standing, that’s no longer a problem for me. It’s also not the problem it used to be when standing at general admission rock concerts, something I love to do.
I was the second person in my office I to raise my desk. Now there are five of us (out of about 35 people total), so it appears we have some momentum.
Have you tried a standing desk? Join the conversation with your comments…