Thanks to working at Health, I'm well-versed in the evils of spending the workday tied to your chair: Sitting too much has been shown to up your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic health problems, even if you work out regularly. I got a standing desk a few weeks ago, and here's what I've learned so far.
Thanks to working at Health, I'm well-versed in the evils of spending the workday tied to your chair: Sitting too much has been shown to up your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic health problems, even if you work out regularly. People who sit less, weigh less. And women who sit too much may even die earlier. So I've been wanting to try out a standing desk forever, and a few weeks ago I finally got off my butt (pun intended) and made it happen. Here's what I've learned so far:
You won't stand all day
"Won't you get tired?" someone asked me when I first got my standing desk. Nope, because I take breaks, standing for an hour or two and then sitting for 10-15 minutes, building up to longer stretches of standing over time. I also sit down at lunchtime and for meetings. (I know that eating lunch at my desk isn't the best health habit either, but that's a post for another day.) I'm using an adjustable-height desk on loan from NextDesk, but you could DIY it by propping your computer up on crates for typing and emailing, then shifting to a regular-height surface for reading and note-taking.
You'll need to rethink your footwear
Obviously. My high-heeled shoes are currently gathering dust in a pile in my office, while my comfy flats are getting a workout.
You'll move a lot more
When I'm standing at my computer, I'm constantly shifting my weight from one foot to the other, rolling my head, stretching my arms up to the ceiling, doing little knee bends, and fidgeting. Once I even balanced on one foot for a minute, then the other, just to entertain myself. I also find that I'm more likely to walk down the hall to ask a colleague a question rather than emailing or calling them (and thereby racking up more steps on my pedometer) simply because I'm already standing. Pre-standing desk, I would often go hours at a time without moving anything other than my typing fingers. Am I burning more calories? I have no idea, but I no longer have that sluggish office-haze at the end of the day.
You might actually concentrate better
I don't know if it's because standing is giving me an energy boost or because I'm less inclined to waste time by going down a Facebook hole when I'm not slumped in a chair, but I really do feel more productive and focused these days.
You'll suddenly become really popular
Everyone wants to come visit my standing desk and "ooh" and "ahh" over it. Granted, you might not work with a bunch of of health nuts like I do, but I guarantee you'll be an object of curiosity for at least a few days. The upside? Now everyone else in my office wants a standing desk, too!
Jeannie Kim is the Executive Deputy Editor of Health magazine.