Thursday, September 20, 2012

Standing Desk!

I'm so excited because I finally got a sitting to standing desk installed in my new office! I've been wanting this for a while and when I found out that my boss was getting one, I asked to get one too. Since leaving grad school and starting my job, I've definitely noticed a difference in how sedentary I am. I spend a total of 2 hours in the car commuting, 9 hours sitting at work, and the rest by the TV or sleeping. I only spend about an hour working out and maybe a half hour standing cooking. I don't think our bodies were meant to be sedentary all day and being active is important for your health.

Read these articles from NPR and the Chicago Tribune. The fact is that even if you workout everyday, it does not counteract the rest of the day the you spend in a sedentary state. Multiple studies show that sitting all day increases your risk for heart disease and obesity and substantially increases your risk for dying early. When you're sitting, the major muscles in your body (legs and back) are not contracting and therefore your metabolism slows down. Sitting all day is also bad for your workouts because it makes your hips less flexible. (My hips actually hurt at the end of the day sometimes from too much sitting.) Finally, sitting promotes bad posture because you tend to hunch over your keyboard.
I didn't have as much of a problem with sitting when I had a desk job in DC because I commuted to work by walking quite a bit and taking the metro. Now that I have to drive (25 miles, no train or bus), I can really feel the difference. I've been taking a lot of afternoon walks this summer but 20 minutes is still not enough compared to hours of sitting. Plus, its starting to get cold and outside walks aren't going to be as pleasant anymore. Therefore, I ordered the adjustable desk pictured below! I simply moves up and down electronically in a range of 22 to 48 inches, so you can set it to your ideal sitting and standing heights.

While standing at your desk doesn't seem like you're being active, you really are. When standing, your leg, butt, and back muscles are engaged and contracting. Standing versus sitting most of the day can really make a difference. Read this persons post on 5 months after switching to a standing desk.

Last winter, I took a really long winter break at my parents house in Florida. I still had to work on some grad school stuff so I set up my lap top on the kitchen bar and sat at a bar stool. Without noticing, I actually switched to standing at the bar to work on my lap top and stayed standing the rest of the morning. I continued to stand at my lap top the following days, as well. I really just felt more energized and alert while standing doing work instead of sitting. So I'm looking forward to working at this new desk at work.

More and more companies, and especially the progressive ones like Google and Groupon, are offering standing and even treadmill desks to their workers. I think its a great idea to combat the unhealthy habits of our sedentary lifestyles that are leading to the rising obesity, diabetes, and heart disease rates in our country. The desk I got is from SIS-USA. They are quite expensive but I think it's worth a shot to ask your employer if you can order one. Companies are always all about ergonomic chairs, but ergonomic desks is where the focus should be.

Switching from sitting to standing all day can be a difficult transition, so I going to take it slow by alternating from sitting to standing. I'll update you with my progress in the upcoming weeks!

How do you stay active at work?

Would you ever try a standing desk?  


  1. Lenka, thanks for this. I have been using an adjustable height sitting/standing desk at work for several months, and also an IKEA-inspired standing desk at home. I am lucky in that I have a short commute and I work on a college campus. Easy to walk around campus anytime I need a break. I just wrote up a blog post on standing desks this morning, actually ( Hope to see more people getting healthy by trying out a standing desk a few hours a day.

    1. I like the idea of an IKEA-based standing desk to have at home. I think that a lot of people want to try standing desks, but it would be much more common if employers encouraged it. I had to ask around quite a bit to figure out how and where to order one at my job.

    2. Lenka,
      I would have to agree, I am running into the same problems. Also; alot of the are really expensive.

    3. James,
      Many employers allow you to spend more money on "ergonomic" things like fancy chairs. You should try to convince them that the standing desk is really the most ergonomic and make a case for your health. If it's for a home office, I would seriously try some sort of adjustable table or shelf from IKEA and simply have a bar stool on hand in case you want to sit. Let me know if it works out!


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