Take a Stand

Movement is important for many aspects of health including digestion, skeletal structure, and mental well-being. Sitting in the same position for too long can feel to the body like a form of physical restraint and physical restraint can cause a stress response called chronic restraint stress. Sitting in one position for hours takes its toll on the body and mind over time. I know for myself that sitting for extended periods hurts my body and makes me feel badly overall. You can see here in these pictures how sitting can put you in the same position humans get into when they feel defeated or upset.

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Sitting for too long also has an impact on posture. Good posture is such an important component of the physical impression we make on others. Having good posture can take years off your appearance and make you more confident while bad posture can make you appear older and weighed down. But it’s one thing to be informed and yet another to transmute that information into a beneficial physical habit.

When it comes to getting off my butt each hour while sitting, I have often wondered to myself why, no matter how hard I try, can’t I get up and move around more frequently. I guess it boils down to the law of inertia, an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Even setting timers doesn’t help me overcome this inertia. I have a decent amount of physical discipline but this has been no match for the degree to which extended screen time can make me check out of my body and strip me of my will.

A couple of years ago, after hearing glowing reports about switching to a standing desk from my friend Tyler (who designed this blog), I thought it could be a good remedy. I made a home-made version but I didn’t enjoy the experience. As a result, I wasn’t inclined to spend hundreds of dollars on a real standing desk when I wasn’t sure if it would be a waste of money or not.

Recently I was out of town visiting some friends. One of my friends had bought a standing desk that didn’t meet her work space needs. Since it was in a closet gathering dust, she encouraged me to try it. After setting it up on a table, I thought it was really well-designed and offered a completely different experience from my homemade attempt. I could actually lean on it and adjust it very easily. I could also push it all the way down to sit at the table when I needed to. The key to a healthier work experience is being able to change positions versus forcing yourself to remain in the same one.

My friend generously encouraged me to take the desk home. I set it up on top of my regular desk and I have been using it for a couple of weeks now. I experienced benefits in a relatively short time. Since the desk puts me in a standing position while I do work, I am more likely to drop on the floor and stretch when I need to or do some type of movement like squats or standing stretches. Featured in these hyperlinks are some great, short videos by my friend Michael Rizk on movement that you can do while standing and to also help reverse the effects of sitting. I find this type of movement increases energy levels and provides an improved sense of well-being.

If someone were to ask me how to sum up my experience with switching to a standing desk, I would say it has surpassed my expectations for quality of life improvement. My posture has improved, and mental fatigue and outlook also improved noticeably. Not everyone will have the same experience of course. If you are concerned about the negative effects of sitting and desire the structural and mental benefits of easily being able to switch from standing to sitting while you work at your desk, then investing in a standing desk may be up your alley.

I feel it’s important to stand on some sort of mat for a better experience while using a standing desk. It’s also important to have good posture while standing. This is a good video that tells you how to achieve that. There’s a lot of good information on the internet about standing desks, and multiple videos on YouTube about them, so I won’t take up more of your time when you can do your own research.

Sitting for long periods, especially with poor posture, is linked to many health problems from acid reflux to diabetes to hiatal hernia. A standing desk could help prevent these problems. It could also be a key factor in feeling unstuck and being able to make some progress with fatigue, depression, and also weight loss issues (since you’ll be more likely to take movement breaks and break up extended screen time).

It’s important to take your time in adjusting to a standing desk. Sit as much as you need to, and decide for yourself how much time of your day you think you should be standing versus sitting. This is a lifestyle change that could bring as many positive results as a focus on nutrition, especially if the majority of your day is spent sitting at a desk.

**Found a similar standing desk to the one I use on sale

http://www.startribune.com/in-the-u-s-workplace-a-standing-desk-has-become-an-important-benefit/442519263/

4 comments

  1. Marco - December 26, 2017 2:06 am

    Standing desk are very uncomfortable. How can they be good to health? No way…

    Reply
    • admin - December 26, 2017 2:18 am

      Hi Marco, hope you are well. It’s not about going from sitting all day uncomfortable in a chair to standing all day uncomfortable behind a standing desk but to be able to switch positions when your body needs to, which is why it’s good for your posture and health. The standing desk I use (and the one in the picture) goes up and down. That’s why I wrote this, “Sit as much as you need to, and decide for yourself how much time of your day you think you should be standing versus sitting.” My post is not arguing that standing is more healthy than sitting per se but is promoting the idea of using a standing desk to to avoid feeling restrained in any one position.

      Reply
  2. Erika - January 18, 2018 2:30 am

    Great article, I was lucky enough to get a stand up desk through work to assist with recovery from hip issue. My hips are much better and it was great to have the option to stand when sitting down was not conducive to my recovery. I still use the stand up desk and it helps to break out of the same posture. I vary the day with using the standing position up 1/3 of my day and 2/3 by sitting.
    I believe the stand-up units that can go up down (adjustable) should be provided for everyone in a workplace, you can use them according to your own situation.
    I love the videos from Mark, I’ve just done the stand up tall routine and I feel just a cm taller :) thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • admin - January 18, 2018 2:38 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience. When I read this, “it helps to break out of the same posture” it makes me think the statement can also be used as a metaphor for some of the viewpoints in our head we get stuck in. I”m glad your desk helped your hip. Way to think out of the box to find your solution!

      Reply

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