The ups, downs of standing desk
By Daniel Meyer
I have a confession to make.
I’m addicted to standing.
After years of attempting to create makeshift platforms at work for my laptop computer and secondary monitor using discarded shoeboxes and other obscure objects, my wife purchased one of the most thoughtful and useful Christmas gifts I have ever received.
After an initial stint of procrastination, I eventually enlisted the help of a colleague at work to help me set up my state-of-the-art standing desk, a piece of office furniture I firmly believe has dramatically changed my life both personally and professionally.
Some of my co-workers, family members and friends were skeptical about my new workspace environment, with a few even telling me I wouldn’t regularly utilize the standing desk and revert to my previous workday routine of mostly sitting while in the office.
I’m happy to say they were wrong. Over the past six months I have evolved into someone who spends almost my entire eight hours in the office on my feet, performing daily job duties at a standing desk as part of a regular routine that at times finds me wondering what it was like when I spent most of my work day in a seated position.
Stand up to challenge
I had done research on standing desks years ago and as I mentioned previously had made some attempts to build my own structures without much success.
After receiving my standing desk as a gift at the tail end of 2019, I eventually committed to reorganizing my office and making this new piece of furniture the focal point for most everything I do during a typical eight-hour work day.
I wanted to improve my posture and also attempt to eliminate or at least reduce the pain and soreness I regularly felt at the end of the day in my lower back and shoulders. I also wanted to be in a better position to remind myself to move more, even if it means just a quick walk around the hallway located right around the corner from my office or to walk down the 16 floors of our office building every few hours.
The documented research about how sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy is everywhere. It has become what some call “the new smoking,” which convinced me to give standing while at work a chance. Now that I had the properly designed platform in place, I was determined to make it work.
I know people with standing desks at work or inside their home offices who took different approaches than me adjusting to the concept of standing while at work, but for me it became normal and something I don’t even think about as the day moves along. While some people shared with me that they felt one or both of their legs going numb and complained of lower back pain during their first few days of standing while working, I fortunately had no initial physical ailments or complaints.
There are some days where it may be four or five hours into my shift until I take a brief break and sit to write something down at my standard office desk.
I have found that I now walk around the office more, take more frequent breaks to stroll down the hallway or make that 16-floor jaunt down the stairwell. I do sit during in-person meetings and whenever I am writing something on paper that is lengthy and in-depth, but for the most part I have found that I prefer to stand for most of the eight hours I am at the office.
Before using my standing desk, I was constantly hunched over or slumped in my chair, causing shoulder tension and other aches and pains in my forearms. I also recall that when I used to stand up to take a break or go out to lunch that my legs would be very tight because I had not shifted my sitting position or stretched my legs for an extended period of time.
Now six months into standing while working, I have fully converted into someone who rarely sits in an office chair, moves more frequently during a typical day at work, and has much more energy at the end of my shift, meaning I am likely to be more active and participate in some sort of physical activity after I arrive home.
Benefits of standing
While there are other personal health routine changes I have made over the past half-year or so that have contributed to my significant weight loss and increased energy level, I do know that spending roughly 40 hours per week at work standing instead of sitting has greatly improved my overall health.
I have less aches and pains when compared to what I coped with prior to using my standing desk.
I’ve learned that sitting too much is bad for my health. I expect the results of an upcoming doctor appointment with my primary care physician to show that I have decreased my risk of diabetes and heart disease. I also believe I am more productive at the office and that my standing desk has had a positive influence on my mood and overall well-being because of an obvious increase in my energy level.
After six months of standing, I do know I have no plans of returning to sitting. I believe my standing desk provides me pain relief, that standing while working is not a difficult routine to get into, and that being a creature of habit I am confident that incorporating more standing into my typical workday will lead to more productivity and increased energy for the foreseeable future.