At another organization where I worked a few years ago, a fellow IT manager turned his regular workstation into a makeshift stand up desk for ergonomic reasons. I did not think much about it at the time and certainly did not think I would want to be standing around my desk all day. But after finding myself at a chiropractor’s office week after week, I’ve begun to realize I might need to rethink that. It turns out that there are quite a few very good reasons for standing while you are working
Winston Churchill worked at a standing desk, as did Ernest Hemingway and Benjamin Franklin. In fact the list of famous stand up desk users is long. Did they know something we don’t?
The Power of Standing Up
Actually, I have long known about the power of standing up. A very productive millionaire I know suggested that I stand up when taking calls from potential clients or any time I felt I needed more clear thought and authority. It works. In fact, don’t many of us stand and even pace when giving a matter deep thought?
Even for extended thinking sessions, I and many others have found it helpful to stand. Perhaps his standing desk was key to Leonardo Da Vinici’s multi-faceted genius. Even if not, several health reasons might give today’s office workers serious rationale for not sitting all day.
Sitting is the New Smoking
One of the principles of ergonomics is to work in a neutral posture so your body and back are not strained. Standing is far better for our posture than sitting. Even worse, as we sit at a desk and work, it is not unusual to slump over without realizing it. This is widely known to produce back pain.
Furthermore, it turns out that studies have repeatedly shown that sitting is not healthy for us after all—especially extended periods of sitting. Some researchers say that the more we sit, the shorter our life will be. Reportedly, it changes our body’s metabolism, causes lipoproteins in our capillaries to shut off, and alters our body’s use of glucose—inching us closer to diabetes.
Experts report that even if you go to the gym every day and spend most of the day sitting, you are at increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and some cancers. Doctor James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, has been quoted to say that sitting is the new smoking. He and many others now encourage the use of standing desks.
Stand Up Solutions
One obvious benefit of standing at your desk rather than sitting is that you will burn more calories. This has become a subject of study as researchers examine ways to help reduce obesity in our school-age youth. Studies have found that standing burns significantly more calories than sitting and some schools are beginning to offer more activities that require this.
There are a wide variety of standing desks. Some are designed for standing from the get-go and others for converting sitting desks into stand up desks. The latter can be as simple as the Rosewill Electric standing desk— essentially a platform with legs. There are also lightweight traveling versions that fold up.
For those of us who are unsure we can take a full day of standing, there are a variety of desks like this sturdy ERGOTRON dual sit-stand workstation that attaches to a standard desk and converts easily from sitting to standing positions in a few seconds. Motorized versions of these converting desks are also available for those who do not wish to convert between sitting and standing positions manually.
Stand and Deliver
Before cars, televisions, and office jobs, people stood much more than they do now. That is part of the reason why companies like Facebook have many employees converting to stand up workstations. The prospect of switching to a standing desk may seem daunting. Even so, the benefits to work focus and health are many. For these reasons you may want more ergonomic stand up desks for yourself and fellow employees.