For those of us not working at tech startup the standing desk may yet be a novelty, but the movement is on the rise. In Deskbound, Standing up in a sitting world, Dr. Kelly Starrett makes a compelling argument in support of standing for the larger part of your day and an absolute minimum of two hours per day. Exercise – meaning going to the gym – is not sufficient to counteract the insidious health issues triggered by hours of sitting. He references Dr. James Levine on the difference in calorie burning by someone who sits at a desk for eight hours a day – 300 calories – compared to someone who is not deskbound (like a waiter) who clocks around 1300 calories per day. ‘Non-exercise activity’ is what you do when you’re not at the gym and includes things like standing, walking, cooking, gardening, and even fidgeting. Ever know someone with restless leg syndrome? Are they uncommonly thin? NEA or NEAT, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis is the reason.
I can’t imagine the difference it would make in the school system if kids with all their natural energy, might stand for a good part of the day. Consider the impact on childhood obesity if we assigned every student a standing desk.
I recently converted, or should I say, added a standing desk to my office routine. In my case, I’ve opted for a raised table with stacks of copy paper to make the necessary ergonomic adjustments: Arms at 90 degrees, monitor centred at eye level, mouse stacked up on my right. My routine is to stand until I get into the office, meaning a standing breakfast, cycle/walk to the subway, standing in the subway (easily done since there are rarely seats available), once in I place my laptop in the docking station and sit for about 1.5 hours and then switch to my standing desk. Because I can’t be bothered to unplug and move my docking station when I shift to standing, I work on wifi for 2.5 hours and until my battery runs out and then switch back to sitting. And repeat. The better option is to go for the Oristand, a nifty $25 standing desk that is collapsible, lightweight, strong and ergonomic for most. The Oristand is the invention of Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite fame along with two clever designers who took on the challenge of designing an affordable, storage-friendly folding desk. I will be adding one to my home office in place of the current step stool which is absolutely better than nothing.
Importantly, you need to keep moving at your standing desk. Raising a foot on a book or step stool, shifting weight and even lifting one foot after the other. I am amazed at the muscles required just to lift one foot for a minute. It activates your brain and keeps the blood flowing. It’s amazing the difference a small change like a standing desk can make to your fitness, focus and energy. As women doing the double if not triple shift on any given day, this easy hack helps integrate mobility into our regular schedule without a second thought.
If you don’t want to shell out the US$25 then stack some books, grab a step stool and get standing.
Deskbound, Standing up in a sitting world, Dr. Kelly Starrett
Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, Dr. James Levine
7 Exercises to undo the damage of sitting: Art of Manliness http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/08/05/undo-the-damage-of-sitting/