Stand Up for a Change


If you work at a desk job, have you ever thought about how many hours a day you spend sitting and laying down? For me, it's probably 20+ hours a day! That's crazy. Have you heard that sitting is killing us? Enter the standing desk...

Standing Desk 1

I first heard about standing desks over a year ago. I thought they sounded awesome, but I didn't think it was possible where we work. The kind of standing desk that I knew about was the hydraulic kind where you have the option of standing, and sitting when you get tired. They sound pretty expensive. But, a few brave lads at our company took the plunge and converted their cubicles to permanent standing desks, and it opened my mind to possibility of doing it myself.

As we attempt to make strides toward wellness, I mentioned the idea to our wellness coach/chiropractor, and without hesitation he said I should do it. That was good enough for me to give it a try.

It took some tweaking and creativity, but I finally got everything where I like it. I started on Tuesday last week and here are my thoughts on the transition:

  • Be prepared to be made fun of. Especially if you have your monitors where they should be (more on this below). Double whammy if you're tall: "Are you building a tower back there?" "Looks like a giraffe could stand at your desk!" Those are just a few of the comments I've received from my coworkers.
  • Aside from the altitude change, I could actually feel my blood flowing throughout my body (I know it sounds weird).
  • If you are one of the first to make the move, be prepared to talk about it. Everyone wants to know what you think and how it's going. You are like a little kid who just got a new bike. Everyone wants to check it out.
  • Got that 2:30, groggy feeling? Take a 5-hour... Get a standing desk. My brain has not gotten tired since switching. Yes, there was a physical adjustment for my legs and back, but my brain has been better than ever.
  • Sitting down actually feels like a luxury now instead of making me feel lazy. No guilt for this guy to come home, sit on the couch and kick my feet up.
  • Here's how the first four days went: Day 1: Back, legs, knees and heels hurt. Day 2: What the heck am I doing? I just want to sit down! Day 3: I can do this, but my back still gets sore after about an hour. Day 4: Still get a stiff back, and it feels like I've been doing calf raises all day. Getting used to it though...

Since I raised my desk, three others have made the move, including Kelsey! And there are a handful more who are thinking about it. It's a great way to get your blood flowing throughout the day and keep from feeling lazy at your desk job for 40 hours a week.

Kelsey Standing Desk

Just like sitting, though, there is a wrong way and a right way to set up your work station. Based on ergonomic recomendations from our chiropractor, I came up with the following tips for setting up a standing desk of your own.

  • Stand up tall. Sternum out. Shoulders back. Look straight ahead. Get in a comfortable stance with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Desk height should be comfortable for you, but as a guideline, your arm angle should be at about 90 degrees. I started with mine too low and it caused strain in my shoulders as they slouched to compensate. For me it's about 48". (I'm 6'2"-ish.)
  • The correct monitor height is probably higher than you think. The bottom of your monitor should be at your lip level when standing up tall and straight. This might be the hardest thing for people to grasp because it looks so weird. Being tall definitely is a disadvantage here. I moved my computer to the side portion of my work area so that I could utilize the shelf and get my monitors to the proper height. (It's also when I gave my work space the nickname "mega desk".)
  • Make sure to wear comfortable shoes at first and get a floor mat to save your feet. I didn't have a mat for the first day and a half, and my heels are still recovering.
  • Change your stance and stretch often to ward off soreness and muscle/joint fatigue.
  • Take sitting breaks. Unfortunately, I haven't found a stool that is tall enough for me to be able to comfortably work, but it is wise to have a stool and shorter folks shouldn't have a problem finding one at the right height. Kelsey uses a stool to give her feet and legs a rest. Even five minutes an hour is very helpful.
Standing Desk

As you can tell by the infographic below, there are some major benefits to standing more, and some big implications later in life if we continue down the lifestyle path that we are on now. If you have the opportunity to make the switch to a standing desk, I would highly recommend giving it a shot. Worst case scenario is that you can go back to sitting, right?

Do you stand or sit at work? If you sit, would you consider a standing desk?

Sitting is Killing You