If you sit all day in front of a computer screen (and I suspect many of you reading this probably do), here’s some information that might bring you to your feet.
A recent study published by the American Cancer Society proves what common sense has been telling us for years: sitting is bad for your health. The study links increasing sedentary lifestyles (specifically the growing trend of computer-related jobs that require sitting all day at desks) to rising obesity, diabetes, and mortality. The study results showed that the more hours an individual spends sitting each day, the more likely his or her lifespan would be shorter.
Women who spent six hours a day sitting had a 37 percent increased risk of dying versus those who spent less than three hours a day on their bottoms. For men the increased risk was 17 percent.
So what to do if you’re an office worker or run a business that involves a lot of computer time? I highly recommend trying out a standing desk. I’ve personally been using a standing desk for years, but never talked much about it publicly until now. (I’ve received a lot of funny looks and cracks about Donald Rumsfeld throughout the years over my desire to work standing up. Rumsfeld is apparently the most well-known person who works standing up).
I personally swear by standing-working, for health and well-being, productivity and mental clarity I encourage everyone and anyone to try it out.
Back in the days before I ran my own business, I worked as a graphic designer in a corporate office building, sitting in an adjustable “ergonomic” chair in front of a computer all day. Despite trying out different chair heights, different types of chairs, various lumbar support pillows and footstools, (and yoga and pilates sessions at work), I experienced persistent back pain and repetitive stress pain in my right arm and shoulders. For a couple years I figured this was just the nature of working with computers -- until the day I tried working standing up.
It happened one day when my rear had gotten particularly sore from an extended bout of sitting. I propped my laptop onto my kitchen counter and spent a few hours working standing up. I was amazed to find that after a few hours of it, not only was I not tired, but I actually had a lot more energy than when I was sitting down, and i felt more mentally clear.
The next day I set up some space on the top of a bookshelf that was a good height for me, and got to work there. The best part is that my back problems cleared up almost immediately. Since I was working from home at this point (I had left the corporate office world to start Inhabitat), I didn’t have to endure quizzical looks or Donald Rumsfeld cracks from anyone except my husband. And now I’ve even converted my formerly skeptical husband to stand-working as well!
The Reasons for Standing
Stand-working is better for your health, metabolism and mental clarity, and is well-documented. When you are standing, your metabolism is running faster than when you are sitting down, because your leg, back and core stomach muscles are constantly engaged and flexing to maintain a standing posture. You shift positions naturally, your muscles contract and release. Not only do you burn more calories while standing, but your muscles also have to contract constantly, so they don’t slow down and atrophy the way they do when you are seated. Your blood flow throughout your body is improved as well when you are standing -- which is what I credit with promoting mental clarity, and why I swear by stand-working.
According to the recent New York Times article on the subject, no amount of working out at the gym can counter the ill-effects from spending too much time sitting, because sitting actually causes muscles to atrophy and metabolism to slow:
In a number of recent animal studies, when rats or mice were not allowed to amble normally around in their cages, they rapidly developed unhealthy cellular changes in their muscles. The animals showed signs of insulin resistance and had higher levels of fatty acids in their blood. Scientists believe the changes are caused by a lack of muscular contractions.
When I first started using the standing desk back in 2006, I was a little shy about announcing my personal revelation to the world, since I frequently got sarcastic comments and “you-are-a-freak” looks from my friends and family about this unusual workspace set up.
But in 2010, it seems that this is an idea whose time has finally come. Over the past few years, I've watched a groundswell of interest in standing desks and even whole online communities dedicated to the subject of stand-working. More companies are producing standing-desks to meet the growing demand, and now it is even easy to find ‘adjustable electronic standing desks’ such as the GeekDesk and the NewHeights Mobile-Sit-to-Stand desks that can be electrically raised and lowered at the touch of a button. I was finally able to convince my gadget-obsessed husband to join me in the standing desk revolution when he discovered the electronic adjustable standing desk that can be moved up and down to adjust to any height.
The facts are clear about stand-working: it promotes health, mental clarity and increased productivity in workers, so stand-working has clear benefits for a business's bottom line. Many workers are interested in the idea of stand-working, but the biggest obstacle for most people is a lack of infrastructure and social support for their desires. No-one wants to be the sole weirdo at their company who raises a ruckus by insisting on a standing-desk when everyone else seems to be sitting happily in their cubicle.