Showing posts with label standing desk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label standing desk. Show all posts

Standing Desks: 1 Year Later

So it's been a year since I started doing the standing desk and I'm still a major advocate of it.  In this post, I'll talk a bit about the experience over the last year and why I will probably continue to use the stand up desk.

I initially started with my desk at home and liked the results.  It ultimately led me to create what I can only an "active living room" instead of a passive living room.  The standing desk was comfortable and I've found it even easier to slip in and out of the computer screen.  This lead me to set up my own standing-desk at work.  My first attempt was similar to my first attempt at home; mostly to try out before I invested some money into the project.  But it was enough to get me put into the work newsletter when my friend snapped a picture of me and sent it to the editor.
My final standing desk at home.

Originally, I was considering going through the hoops and loops to have work cover one given that I could make an argument about both my health and productivity for such a thing, but that would require chasing down signatures and appointments and more time than was worth it.  So I dropped the $30 on the materials I needed and assembled a standing desk at work as well (see below for more details on how I created it).

Overcoming Awkwardness
The biggest challenge to the standing desk isn't necessarily the task of standing an extra 6-8 hours than one normally does.  No, it's the awkwardness of standing at a desk while surrounding by colleagues who sit or even at home.  It's not how we've been programmed to think about and associate with computers.  We have desktops and laptops--no standtops.

There's also a decent amount of awkwardness to overcome as other people see what you're doing.  I've had to explain my standing desk dozens of times in the last year (And sometimes, repeatedly to the same person).  So, you'll get some raised eyebrows to be sure; they are mostly harmless.

Getting used to standing at the computer is just something you gradually ease into.  Paying mindful attention to your body and posture, you can slowly customize the height, your distance, etc until it feels natural.

The Health Benefits
While I knew ultimately it would be healthy for me to switch, but it was nice to be vindicated from others places about the benefits of not sitting so much throughout the day.  But I have found it healthier in general by standing.  I move more while standing (yes, that includes dancing in place--sorry coworkers!) and I also stretch my legs more.  I'm more apt to stretch the hamstrings, the calves, the quads, and the back almost without thinking while standing at the desk whereas this was something I had to continually (fail to) remind myself with while sitting.

My primary standing desk.
I've also found that I'm urinating more (Yeah, I know--readers, if you're still here, you are asking why I'm sharing this with you as well as following up with why would this be a "health benefit" and not down under the challenges section, but stay with me!).  I'm drinking the same amount of liquid I usually do but I need to make more bathroom trips.  The reason is of course, I'm standing erect and not sitting in chair. We all know the trick that if you are sitting, you're more likely to stave of urinating longer.  We all notice when we feel the bladder full but are still far from a toilet, we tend to bend or even sit to alleviate the pressure.  With a standing desk, you're largely left to go with less delay and stress on your bladder.  I know that when sitting I'd often put it off as long as I can because I wanted to finish something, was too involved with a project, or not even fully mindful of the ache in the bladder.  But when standing, you recognize that you can't stave it off and since you're already standing, just trot right off to the bathroom.

But this increased bathroom visits has two wonderful secondary effects.  The first is that it gets me moving more (bathroom is about a 300 step round trip), which is always a good thing.  But it also helps me "refresh" my mind by having me step away from work.  This helps my work and productivity remain constant throughout the day.

Finally, despite the extra bathroom trips, I am more productive and attentive.  We all know the experience--sometime, after lunch, our brains start to fog out.  Sitting at the chair, we may start to get a case of the jello-head-neck-bob, fighting off (failingly) the heavy desire for a nap.  Eyelids are heavy, the screen is blurry, and you can feel your body begging for a nap.  This never happens with a standing desk.  I've loved this part of the experience.  I am always awake and attentive when standing.

The Cost and Arrangement

Set up at office location #2
As the Chronicle of Higher Education points out (yes, they apparently write regularly about such things--who knew?), you don't need to break the bank to make a feasible standing desk.  Instead of throwing out the old desk, use it as your base for your new one.  I've relied largely on the plastic container drawers that you can find at a variety of stores.  They range from $10 to $30 depending on how many and how big.  But a secondary result is more storage space.  So if you already have some storage bins or containers, you might save yourself money and use those.

I consider the height that would be necessary for my hands and the screen and determine what would work best.  There will be some adjustments so save receipts and try several different mixes.  It can be trickier with a laptop because screen and keyboard are attached.

The Challenges
Occasionally, I do need to return to sitting.  I find this particularly true with certain types of writing.  But I'm still not sure if this is dynamic of standing or if it's the place since I find long concentration in my apartment a bit challenging with the abundance of distractions therein.  That still needs to be determined.

The other major challenge is that I'm less tolerant of sitting for longer periods.  Whether it's a class or a long meeting, I find myself getting antsy and needing to stand within an hour.  It's also harder for me to remain attentive while sitting.  I slip faster into sleepy mode and get distracted with uncomfortable chairs, desiring to be standing instead.

Regardless, the challenges are marginal compared to the benefits reaped and I sold when it comes to standing desks.  Anyone else out there trying a standing desk or something similar?  I would love to hear from you about how it's going.  

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Standing Tall: After a Week of Active Standing at Desks

So the last few weeks I kept hearing about the idea of a standing desk.  Instead of sitting at a desk (especially all day if you have one of those jobs), standing desks allow you to stand at your desk.  There's lots of reasons to do this.  For myself, as a big guy, chairs are largely uncomfortable  They never give the right amount of lumbar support that I need (essentially a brick for my lower back) and the arm rests are always too low, causing my to slouch and put more pressure on my lower back.  So a standing desk sounded more ideal.  Ultimately, I can never get comfortable and that lack of comfort is a regularly distraction (ironically, I'm sitting right now because I'm not at my desk, and it is definitely annoying).

So after hearing about it and thinking about it, it seems to make sense for me.  It was either makeshift a standing desk and enjoy the various health benefits (e.g. burn more calories) or spend more money needlessly to get a hopefully more comfortable (ableit rather expensive) chair without much guarantee that it would give me the support I need.  Mostly, DIY examples I saw utilized boxes and books to make it happen.  And it just so happens that I do have a decent amount of books to make this happy (go figure, me, books?  NEVER!).  I stacked the books and started it out at my home desk.

Results of Standing at Standing Desks

The results have been overwhelmingly well but there are some adjustments that need to happen.  What I noticed first was I was (as some have mentioned) feeling more engaged or energized in my thinking.  This is akin to the studies that say talking on the phone while standing up instead of sitting down, produces a more controlled flow.  However, I also recognize that this could be psychosomatic influence as well as just more aware of my new environment after years of desk sitting.  A slight drawback (but really a benefit of productivity) is that my darling cats (Pumpkin and Bear) are less able to distract me by cuddling up on my lap and fiercely demanding attentioning (through purring, nuzzling, and being cuter than Puss'n'boots).  This just means that I'm more productive overall and can then give them more direct attentiopn--I'll take it.

Home-made standing desk
From the side:  I raised the desk
and added the books and footstool.
There are two elements that concern me.  One is a structural feature that needs tweaking.  The other, I will just have to monitor.  The first is that I haven't managed to get my monitor high enough and am so looking downward more than I should for the neck alignment.  Clearly, I'll need to find more books (who knows where, right?).  The second is that while I'm chockful of energy, I'm not feeling...well...seated.  That is, I'm on the edge of doing things, but have trouble feeling like I can settle in on something.   This is a fascinateing side effect thus far and always reminds me of how body and mind work together.  Settling into something and sitting down.  The implication is that I'm in it for "the long haul" and yet, my mind at least initially is having trouble making this jump.

But overall, I'm really liking it.  So after the first few days, I followed suit with situating it at my desk on work.  Again, I found the experience well.  Interestingly, there are occasional days when I am lagging at work.  If I'm sitting, I'm not only yawning but fighting to keep my eyelids open.  This is usually not because of the nature of the job, but because my body isn't getting the rest it may need or just not moving around enough.  However, by standing the whole day this became much less likely.  I don't recall it happening once and though I assume it is still likely to happen in the future, I believe that it will happen less.  The reason is that key parts of my body aren't at rest because I'm standing.  The sleepiness will often take its cure from a resting body.

So I went in strong, a full week of standing most of the day after much sitting over the last 6 months.  Clearly, my body felt it.  I experienced soreness by day three at work.  I went in strong, my body was not so happy about it, but soreness isn't a bad thing.  It's your muscles being re-awoken.  To be clear, I did not stand for 8 hours straight.  During my lunch break, I sat.  If I was at a meeting, I usually sat.  And other situations where custom was sitting I sat.  But I was still standing an average of 6-7 hours a day at work (nevermind how much I stood at home or in teaching class).

Props for standing desk
The mouse is strategically placed--but might
need adjusting.
I will continue to use this, short of any serious concern or obstacle.  However, one recommendation for others who would move forward with this direction.  More than anything else, I find myself stretching more.  Standing is nice, but it can be just as obnoxious in some ways as sitting.  I try to make sure that at least once an hour, I stretch.  My back, my feet, my calves, quads, and hamstrings.  They need some relief and loosening.

I'm glad with the results.  My body feels more energize and so does my work.  Anyone else out there that has tried this or considered it?  Experiences (good and bad)?

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.