Wednesday, September 09, 2015

My Standing Desk And Why I Made The Switch

Since sometime during the late summer 2012, I made the switch to a standing desk. I had read an article similar to this one that talked about all of the health threats created by the long periods of time Americans spend at their desks. It seems like more and more people are saying that "Your desk job is killing you" or "Sitting is the new smoking."

A few years ago, I read a tweet from Tony Caridi about the health dangers of a desk job, and after reading it, I thought, I need to work to make the change. So I went out the following weekend and bought an external monitor I could hook to my laptop, stacked some boxes and books, and created a makeshift standup desk. I've been using it ever since.

Now as you can see in the photo above, it isn't the prettiest standup desk, but it works. And, the fact that I can remove the boxes and books allows me to fairly easily convert it to a normal sitting desk. When I have video calls, I move from standing to sitting and take the calls while sitting. I haven't quite mastered a way to have good lighting from my desk lamp while standing, and the periodic times of sitting break up the day and keep me from being on my feet standing still the whole day too. I set my external monitor so it is at eye level, and an external keyboard and mouse so they are at elbow level and leave me in an ergonomically stable position (so I don't create other problems with my neck wrists, or arms). Periodically I try to take a 3-5 minute break to stretch my neck and shoulders and focus on standing with good form so I can fight the urge to lean or reinforce bad posture habits too.

So why stand? One of the parts of the article I read that really stuck out to me was that even being active at the beginning or end of your day does not undo the damage done by sitting all day. I thought to myself, "I have been moderately active most of my life, and I have been pretty committed to walking at least 30 minutes a day. And this article is saying that I am not reaping the benefit that I thought I was from that activity. Something needs to change."

I want to be fit and healthy. I exercise regularly. I strive to eat somewhat healthy. And, so I made the switch. There are studies that link sitting for long periods with cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. In addition many of our larger muscles grow weak from not being used because we sit, or are chronically overstretched/overtightened.

A few weeks ago I read a blog that gave seven exercises that claimed to undo the damage of sitting. Chances are you are probably already exercising. If not, you should definitely start; maybe you can begin with those seven exercises, or just get out and walk for 30 minutes a day, like you are on your way somewhere, and you are late.

And I realize you can't get rid of all sitting from your life. You will probably drive to work, ride an airplane, train, or bus, or potentially attend a sporting event, watch a movie or tv, visit a coffee shop or restaurant, or some other activity, and you will likely do those things sitting. But, if you can, I highly recommend standing more in your workplace. Create a standing desk. If you can't build one like I built, set a timer to remind you to get up and move at least once per hour. And if you are watching TV, try to be active while you watch. Ride an exercise bike. Stretch. Do yoga. Hop on a treadmill.

Here's to sitting less, moving more, and getting going toward a healthier lifestyle. May you stand up strong for your health.

No comments: