Sunday, 25 May 2014
I'm taking a stand ... at my new standing desk
When I first arrived at the office, the desk was in the down position and looked much like any other desk. What I noticed right away was the thick rubber mat on the floor that made it almost impossible for me to roll my chair from the front of the desk to the side. After about an hour of watching me struggle, one of the paralegals in my department finally took pity on me and said "They didn't tell you about the desk? It's a standing desk". And with that, she clicked a lever on the front of the desk and shoop! up it went. All of a sudden that thick rubber floor mat made sense - - comfortable on the feet when standing, not so good when sitting.
Initially I wasn't sure if I was going to keep standing at the desk, but I looked up some of the health benefits and I think I am going to give it a shot. Now that I have new loafers, rather than heels, that is. I defy anyone to use a standing desk for 10 hours a day in heels.
First and foremost, there is a reduced risk of obesity with a standing desk. People using a standing desk apparently burn, on average, 50 calories more per hour than do people who sit. Associated with the standing desk is a higher likelihood of moving around than if you are sitting, and it's the moving that is the key.
Second, there is apparently a reduced risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders compared to individuals who sit for longer periods of the day.
Similarly, there is a reduced risk of heart disease. A study comparing the rates of cardiovascular disease among London bus drivers (who sit) and conductors (who stand) showed that the former group experienced more heart attacks and cardiovascular problems than the latter. In other studies, even when controlled for exercise, excessive sitters were 34% more likely to develop heart disease than those who were standing or moving.
Ultimately, it is important to ease into a standing desk by alternating with periods of sitting as well as by moving around - - it's hard on the body to stand all day, after all. Given the number of meetings at my new company, however, it doesn't look like it will be a problem to incorporate periodic sitting into my routine. The problem will be getting out of the meetings to get back to my standing desk!
So far, so good. My new loafers are comfortable, and although I notice that my feet and legs are tired by the end of the day, it is actually surprisingly comfortable to work at my standing desk. I even have a screen that is on an extendible arm that permits me to bring the screen right up close, without me having to hunch over the keyboard. Who knows - - my posture may even improve with the standing desk!