Sitting is bad for you
It's official, sitting is bad for you. A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise has found that people who sit for extended periods are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks. Now consider your average day. If you are anything like me, you get out of bed, make some breakfast and plonk yourself down at the table to eat. Then you get in your car and sit as you drive to work or to drop the kids off at school. Once you are at work, you sit.....all.....day.....long. And then, you go home, grab some dinner and what do you do? You SIT in front of the TV.
That's a lot of sitting. That's sitting for extended periods. That means we are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks. That sucks. And here's more bad news, exercise alone won't really help - as noted in the New York Times:
And exercise alone won't help
Unfortunately for us, these studies also go on to find that exercising alone isn't going to counteract the damage done by all that sitting down.
“It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.”
The solution, obviously, is to stand more, to move more, to sit less. But, unless you are a yoga teacher, your job probably involves time at a desk or a computer and that in turn means sitting. Unless you get yourself a standing desk!
A standing desk? What on earth is a standing desk?
Don't be surprised if you haven't heard of a standing or stand up desk. Chances are, you've not only not heard of them, but you've never seen one either.
As the name implies, a standing desk is a desk that you use for work, but instead of being low to the ground and the perfect height for someone sitting down, it is higher up and made the perfect height for someone to stand and work at. Standing desks have become increasingly popular, especially in young startups and IT related companies and the sorts of places where doing something unusual is often encouraged. Even Facebook is using standing desks, where one staff member notes that the standing desk has stop his post-prandial slump that he used to suffer from.
Of course most companies are not so progressive as to have stand up desk options for their employees.
Types of standing desks
Standing desks come in all shapes and sizes, from the homemade, traditional sitting desk with a bunch of cardboard boxes on it to raise the working height to full on easy adjustable commercial offerings, to everything in-between. In general, you want to choose a desk that comes up to about the height of your elbow. That will give you the most flexibility in terms of a good standing desk. If you tend to write a lot, you might consider a draughtsman's table or old teachers desk that is designed to tilt slightly towards you to encourage you to not hunch over your work. Consider finding an old lectern on ebay if you want to test out a standing desk before committing to a large financial outlay on a bells and whistles model. Or try something more homemade - grab a children’s desk and plonk it on top of your normal desk. It won’t win any design awards......erm actually it might, given the state of modern art, but it will do the job.
Of course your workmates and boss might think it a little funny if you start standing at work. Remind them that many notables have stood for their work - Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Frankline, Leonardo Davinci. Some old proverbs for health and longevity say don't lie if you can sit, don't sit if you can stand.
Sit down, Stand up
ow it might not be advisable to jump into a standing desk arrangement full time. Especially if you are pulling 10 hours at the office. Start slow and build up. The best way to ease into a standing desk of course, is to have a height adjustable desk so you can move it up and down between sitting and standing through the day. Starting with just five to ten minutes of standing every hour is a great way to get off your but, as it were. Make sure you have comfortable shoes for standing - you don’t want to be in kitten heels standing for hours on end - sensible trainers with good matting underfoot is a good idea
If you attend meetings, suggest that some of them be turned into “stand-up” meetings. This will have the added advantage of keeping the meeting to point and in general, stops them from rambling off topic and over time. The stand up meeting has a good history - during the first World War some military leaders used stand up meetings
Standing burns more calories than sitting and quite a number of people have reported that using a stand up desk has helped them lose weight. They have also been reported to help reduce back pain and increase productivity.
And remember, you don’t have to stand the whole day to get the benefit - simply find your ideal balance between standing and sitting through the day.