Although I really haven’t mentioned it up until this point (mostly because I wanted to see how I liked it first), I’ve been using a standing desk at work for the past 4 or 5 weeks.
Why make the switch to a standing desk? I’ve written several times in the past about my history of back pain. Since losing 90+ pounds last year, I haven’t had any “major issues” per se with my back, but I’ve still experienced lingering back pain from time to time. And more recently, “from time to time” was becoming more and more often. I work 4 10’s at my job as a software developer, so basically I sit in front of a computer for 10 hours a day. Over the past few months, I began noticing that many evenings after work, my back would be sore and achy. But on the weekends when I didn’t spend all day sitting in front of the computer, my back felt fine. Coincidence? I think not.
More recently, I had been reading quite a bit about the benefits of using a standing desk (and the many health pitfalls of sitting all day). I decided I wanted to give it a try, but I wasn’t sure how I would like standing all day. I know there’s all kind of fancy solutions out there like adjustable height desks, so that you can alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. Before I committed to anything like that, I just wanted to get a taste of what standing all day at work would be like. So I grabbed a couple of empty cardboard boxes to put my keyboard and mouse on, and put my monitors up on the shelf in my cube. Voila, my do-it-yourself standing desk:
I decided to start my standing desk experiment on a Friday, as I thought that standing all day may end up doing a number on my legs and feet. That way, my introduction would only be for one day, then I’d have the weekend to recover if need be. While standing all day certainly has its’ share of hardships (my feet did get pretty sore, especially the first week or so), overall I really like it. My back hasn’t been hurting after work the way it used to, and overall I just feel more energized at work. As much as I would try to keep reminding myself to sit nicely and keep a good posture, over the course of 10 hours it was almost inevitable that I’d start slouching from time to time. Standing, I have almost no choice but to keep good posture all day.
About 3 weeks into my experiment, I was getting ready to leave on a 2 week vacation. Up until this point, I hadn’t specifically said anything to anyone at work about my new desk arrangment. A few people had walked by and commented or asked me questions about it, but I don’t really work near the “main drag” of the office, so not many people just happen to wander past my cube. The day before I left on vacation, the office admin comes by my cube and starts asking me all sorts of questions about my current setup and about ordering me an adjustable desk. The whole thing makes me feel kind of awkward, because I don’t want to be “that” person, who demands all kinds of special accommodations. So I kind of downplay it, telling her that I’m still just trying things out to see how I like it and to see if my back feels any better.
We left it at that, and I went on my 2 week vacation, only to come back to this:
Turns out she went ahead and ordered me the fancy adjustable standing desk anyway 🙂 I will admit, it definitely is nice! Though I’ll also admit that in the 2 weeks that I’ve been back, I’ve never adjusted it to sit down once. I’ve learned that I actually like standing all day, and once I got past the first week or so, my feet handle it just fine. Though I guess it is nice to have that option, that I don’t have to sit down all day.
Besides simply not sitting, there are other benefits of standing all day at work. The constant shifting/balancing act is a nice leg workout! You can also burn up to an extra 50 calories per hour by standing instead of sitting – that’s 500 calories per day for my 10 hour shifts!
And look, I’m not the only crazy person standing all day at work – here’s some links to others who are doing the same thing, as well as a few links with more info on why you too should think about moving to a standing desk at work!
- Gina Trapani (founder of Lifehacker, fellow geek/code monkey)
- Twitter’s Alex Payne’s Desk Hack
- Marco Ament (founder of Tumblr & Instapaper)
- John Durant has an excellent series of blog posts called Upstanding Citizen that profiles those who have made the switch to a standing desk
- How-to Guide: Standing at Work (Mark’s Daily Apple)
- Standing versus Sitting (37 signals)
- Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? (New York Times)
- Sitting for Hours Can Shave Years Off Your Life (CNN)
Have you heard why I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon in October? I’m raising money for TAPS, a wonderful organization that provides support to the families of our fallen soldiers. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated already. If you can, please click here to make a donation to TAPS. No amount is too small, even a few bucks is a tremendous help and greatly appreciated.