Anybody who works at a desk for the majority of their day has likely experienced some sort of negative side effect. From wrist and elbow pain to weight gain, the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle during our work hours can take a toll, even for people that exercise religiously in their off hours.
Stand-up desks are an alternative that’s quickly gaining popularity around the world. Although most employers still wouldn’t provide a stand-up desk as their default option to staff, more and more companies are open to allowing employees to request or adapt their own desk to suit their preference.
If you’re intrigued by the possibility but skeptical about whether or not you want to stand all day long, ask yourself the following questions:
Does Your Back Hurt?
White collar workers are notorious for their chronic back pain. It’s not caused by long days working in the field or on a construction site — it stems from slouching in a chair all day long. Standing keeps your back muscles engaged and encourages proper posture (shoulders back!). Making the switch to a standing desk for even a few days can often result in a dramatic decrease in day-to-day back pain.
Do You Struggle to Concentrate at Work?
When we sit, we’re halfway to lying down. It’s easier to lose focus and get distracted by games, emails, or just surfing the web. Standing up helps create a physical sense of purpose — we’re on our feet and we’re ready to go. With the freedom to readjust posture and shift weight, our body stays more engaged and our mind follows suit.
Have You Been Gaining Weight?
Standing to work automatically requires more energy, increasing our heart rate and calorie-burning potential. Best of all, standing allows you release restless energy. Although you might earn a few laughs from coworkers, it’s healthy to run in place for a minute every now and then (or even bust a move to your favorite internet radio station).
Do You Spend the Majority of Your Day on Your Butt?
Even if you haven’t experienced negative health effects from your sedentary job, they’re likely occurring under the radar. Much of the recent stand-up desk craze stems from a report released in Men’s Health magazine that claims people who sit for the majority of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.
The bottom line is that when we’re awake, it’s wise to keep the calories burning, our heart rate churning, and our muscles working. We’re better off to remain relatively active throughout the day than to try to counteract eight hours of sitting with one hour of exercise.
Are you convinced enough to give it a try? From IKEA to individual purveyors online, the options for premade stand-up desks are now plentiful.
Before making a purchase, however, give standing a try with a makeshift model. Start by stacking a stable chair or coffee table atop your existing desk (you may want to try this at home first if you work in a crowded office). Place your laptop or monitor screen at eye level on the new raised platform. If you use a separate keyboard, place it directly in front of you with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Use books, boxes, or whatever you have on hand to adjust it until your levels feel right.
If you find that you enjoy standing, you still don’t have to purchase an expensive new piece of furniture. Heavy-duty shelf brackets mounted on the wall and a solid desktop surface (even an old door will work), can provide a desk nearly anywhere, even freeing up space for a shelf underneath to hold your printer, hard drives, and paperwork. It’s even possible to utilize milk crates or blocks of wood to raise a run-of-the-mill kitchen table up to standing height, building a shelf atop that to hold your monitor screen.
However you go about making the change to a standing desk, the benefits can be plentiful and make a long-term difference in your health and well-being.
Kenneth McCall is a managing partner for storage.com. He builds the systems that help customers find the best self storage units for their needs. Through Kenneth’s and his team’s work customers can find storage units in Philadelphia and in other cities. In his spare time, Kenneth likes to ski, hike and participate in other outdoor activities.