I posted a photo on Facebook this week of the recent adaptation to my ‘standing desk’, aka my book shelf! It prompted a fair amount of discussion so I thought I would blog on the topic this week.
Why is Standing Rather Than Sitting So Important?
I’ve been reading articles and listening to podcasts mentioning standing at work for a good few months now. And of course we’re talking about for people who usually sit all day rather than those people expected to stand due to the nature of their work (been there, done that!).
The phrase ‘sitting is the new smoking’ was coined by Dr James Levine, Director of the May Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, and author of ‘Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It’, and is a scary prospect for the millions of office based employees who spend most of their day sitting (including those who work from a home office or a coffee shop or, worse still, their car!).
It is being said that sitting for hours at a time could be contributing to the chances of developing diabetes, hypertention, cardiovascular disease and many other health issues.
And it’s not just office workers; think about our children and how much time they are expected to spend sitting whilst at school. Studies of school children are showing that standing students are more attentive and engaged. And I found this US organisation, ‘Stand Up Kids‘ working on just this; getting stand up desks for school children.
I can certainly feel the difference when I’m standing to work, and especially when speaking to people and interviewing people on the radio podcasts that I host.
Having said that, please don’t see me as a saint standing up all day, because I’m not! I don’t always remember, sometimes I can’t be bothered and other times my legs are aching so I can’t face it!
And I’ve managed to make my DIY version work for me because I also have room for a sit down desk so I can alternate between the two. If you have limited space it might be harder to do without a mechanised version that can transform a sit desk into a standing version without taking up extra space.
Here is an article from the Obesity Solutions website with another idea showing you how to convert your traditional desk to a stand desk, which looks a bit more effort to me (no father in law in sight!) and less effective with nowhere to rest papers at the correct height whilst working, which was part of why my previous version wasn’t working for me.
What To Do if You Can’t Get a Standing Desk (just yet!)
I read an article yesterday that suggests we should be getting up and walking around for two minutes every hour. People who do that apparently can increase their lifespan by 33 percent compared to those who don’t do that.
So, perhaps you should be at least trying to do this on a regular basis. And why not aim for every half an hour? There are many reports that say we are less productive the longer we work without a break. Why not build a quick break into your working time on a regular basis so you can walk around a bit? Go and make a cup of healthy green tea or just walk around the office once smiling at everyone (they’ll probably think you’re mad but you’ll feel good!).
What I Decided to Use for my Standing Desk
I wanted to do something in my office to enable me to stand up for some of the day. For a long while I was sharing the office with Simon, my husband, or Little Doddsy so there wasn’t enough room. I managed to reclaim the space for myself early this year so that created my opportunity.
So the next questions was what to use. There are sophisticated options on the market, as you can see in the Facebook discussion from my friend Mark’s example, but I went with a DIY option – a step up from Amanda’s ironing board though, I feel!
I started with my book shelf that was a reasonably good height and then made some adjustments by way of a couple of planks of wood that Simon ‘engineered’ for me so that I am high enough so that my arms are at a ninety degree angle when I’m using my mouse and keyboard. And then the next thing was to raise the height of my laptop and screen so they are at eye level.
That was going ok but I wasn’t using it very often even though I knew I should be. It was just too awkward and, if anything, whilst giving me the opportunity to stand it was probably causing worse musculoskeletal issues as it wasn’t particularly ergonomic or flexible due to the lack of depth to the shelf unit.
My Father in Law to the Rescue
Having been to a physio appointment on Monday I was inspired to ask my father in law if he had a handy piece of wood available to make my shelf a bit wider to solve my problem. And in the blink of an eye, within the next hour I had a new ‘desk’ top for my shelf!
And I have to say that I have used the stand up desk almost non stop since then. It’s amazing what a difference having a bigger space has made. I can angle my keyboard and the laptop and in relation to each other and to the screen so much better.
My next challenge is to work out how long I can stand before I need to sit down so that my knees don’t hurt! I’ve cracked the sore feet bit by wearing my Fitflop slippers. And conveniently I have an armchair behind me when I’m at the standing desk that has a very solid arm for when I need a quick sit down ‘mid stand’!
I feel like my core is getting stronger. I definitely feel more alert. Strangely it also makes me take more regular breaks because standing up all the time does feel a bit strange (that’s where the armchair comes in!). I’m also trying a few stretching exercises and being mindful about how I’m standing, so that’s sure to be helpful too.
Let’s see what my physio has to say on Monday!
Do you have a standing desk? How is it working for you? Do let me know in the comments.