By Alex Lowder
Working in an office at a desk may seem like the antithesis of healthy living, but it does not have to be black and white. You can try a standing desk! There are some desks that are strictly for standing, like this one. However, there are also types that you can retrofit to an existing, conventional desk. These tend to fall into two categories. The first is one that turns your regular office desk into a standing-only desk, as shown here. The second is one that turns your regular office desk into a multifunctional workspace with an adjustable height feature. For the last month, I have been test driving the latter of the two and am really pleased, thus far.
Here are some of my findings:
1. You feel taller
This might sound silly, but for someone who is 5’2” I will take all of the height I can get. When I sit all day, I feel as though I get a droopy shoulders and a hunched back. This does not go a long way for one’s confidence — or one’s spine. The standing desk allows me to stand (and sit) up straighter, without pulling my body up, down, forward or back to conform to the desk when I type, read, etc. What’s better is when people come into my office, I look ready to engage!
2. You dance more
This is very important. When working in an office, you need to have all the fun that you can! If you are already standing, it is more likely that whatever tunes you are listening to will prompt spontaneous dance parties — even if they are by yourself. In all seriousness, I tend to have a little more fun with some of my more monotonous tasks if I have a little bit of a bounce going on.
3. Your pants don’t wrinkle
If you work in a traditional office environment where you are expected to wear your grown-up clothes, that probably includes articles that require ironing. You know what ruins that beautiful ironing you did on those dress slacks? Sitting all day. Even standing half of my work day has reduced those end of the day creases on the front of my pants.
4. You don’t have cold feet
OK, this might not be a widespread problem. I am genetically predisposed to poor circulation in my hands and feet (thanks, Dad). This means that even in a perfectly mild temperature room, wearing socks and shoes, my feet are still cold. Adding more than three and a half hours standing to my work day has dramatically improved circulation now that I am not cutting it off by sitting all day.
5. You don’t get food babies
After lunch, I feel full and maybe a little bloated, depending on what I ate. When I stand after eating my lunch, my body feels longer and leaner (see: you feel taller) and I do not feel that food sitting in my stomach. I would have to do a bit more research to find if standing promotes digestion (yoga does!), but, anecdotally, I definitely feel better after eating if I standing for a little while after.
6. You make new friends
While working in an office setting, it can be easy for everyone to stay in their offices or cubicles and not speak out loud to another living soul until 5:00 p.m. If you are standing, you might be more likely to travel in and out of your work station and talk to people you might not speak to otherwise.
The great thing about these desks is that a lot of employers will provide them for you, as a reasonable request for modifying work conditions, similar to ordering a special chair. If not, there are lot of affordable options that you would then own and be free to bring to wherever you work. While you wait for your standing desk to come in, try some of these office stretches to improve mobility. They get blood flowing a relieve built up tension.
The standing desk is not the panacea of living a healthy lifestyle. Rather, it is another tool in your arsenal to ensure you are doing everything you can, especially in the most unhealthy parts of your life, to keep yourself in tip-top shape. As long as you do not fall into these bad habits, the standing desk can be both beneficial and enjoyable. More benefits (and actual research) can be found at www.juststand.org.