The chorus of
posts about our sedentary desk jobs had finally become
overwhelming. Sitting all day is killing us. And so, I invested in
a giant, black, desktop contraption that allows me to adjust from
sitting to standing with minimal effort.
I'm standing at my desk as I write this. My two monitors are
arrayed in front of me, my desk chair is pushed to the side, and my
elbows are bent at a comfortable 90 degrees. I'm aware of the
muscles in my back working to maintain my upright posture, and I
sometimes remind myself to drop my shoulders and press them back.
In general I stand squarely on both feet, but sometimes I bend my
knees and hips and bounce around. I find myself moving around more
in general. I swing my arms and stretch them overhead. I walk
around my office to grab a pen or my notes.
"We've become so sedentary, that 30 minutes a day at
the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of
eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting, says Genevieve
Healy, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre
of the University of Queensland in Australia. A 2010 study
published in the American
Journal of Epidemiology concluded that "The time spent
sitting was independently associated with total mortality,
regardless of physical activity level." This is astonishing to me.
The damaging health effects of too much sitting, which include
heart disease, diabetes, depression, and back pain, cannot be
counteracted by exercise.
My new desk set up was a topic of discussion and fascination in
the office for a couple days. Staff members came by to take look
and see how it works. I've offered to let others try it out on days
when I am not in the office. As I ease into this new arrangement, I
want to make sure that I am moderate in both my sitting and my
standing. I want to switch positions regularly, both because I may
get tired more quickly when I am standing, and also because I
believe the most natural way of working is to be in a variety of
positions throughout the day. For now, I've found that I have so
many meetings, during which I sit, that I don't have to lower the
platform very often.
I've been reading and responding to emails, writing, and even
attending conference calls. I will know in time if this new
arrangement is maintainable, and if I experience noticeable health
benefits, such as weight loss, reduced back pain, or increased
focus and energy (as others have reported). But for now, I enjoy
the novelty and the freedom of being on my feet.