You know I’ve been on a mission (tirade?) to get you sitting less. No fewer than 5 pages of Fit Quickies: 5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts are devoted to the problems of sedentarism, the hazards of sitting too much – and the easy fix.
Which is why I couldn’t wait to share with you what I just did in my home office and studio. I told you that I’ve been researching stand-up desk stations, and have been looking for one that would allow me to alternate standing and sitting with ease. Something with variable height.
The search had been going on and still there I was with a chair at my desk, having to remind myself to get up regularly from writing to combat active coach potato syndrome. [pullquote position=”right”]”An active couch potato is someone who does their workouts and then sits for extended periods the rest of the time” ~ Fit Quickies: 5 Minute Targeted Body-Shaping Workouts pg. 24.[/pullquote]
Here’s the exciting news: I have been so diligent about taking breaks from sitting and standing more that my body started to crave it – standing that is!
Let me explain.
Stand and deliver
Last weekend I was booked for two solid days of seminar events. At each, I was scheduled to present, for a brief segment at the CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Project) regional meetings and the following day for a full presentation at Vegan Professionals Boot Camp. Actually, this turned out to be more fun than even anticipated. The event planners asked me at the last minute if I would please provide fitness breaks a la Fit Quickies style. Um, yeah! (See photo).
At each of these two events, I was also scheduled to be an audience participant. You know what that means. Seated in rows. For hours.
I decided to strategically opt for the back row on both days. This was perfect for the stand-up sit-down rhythm I’ve been cultivating. I found that after about 20 minutes of ‘sit’ time, I just naturally wanted to stand – usually for 30 – 40 minutes or so at a stretch.
My body was doing it for me! I just had to strategize location so I wouldn’t be ‘standing’ in the front row in front of everyone else.
Easy. Back row.
Do it now
That settled it. Back in my home office after the weekend events, I knew I just couldn’t take it sitting down any more. Research ensued once again for options but it still meant I was having to offset the sit time with standing, which my body just seemed to want.
So I scavenged the furniture graveyard in the garage and found a credenza from an old desk that was just about the right height. I needed to elevate my desk by about 12 inches to be a ‘stander’. 30 minutes later, I had what you see now in the picture at the top of the page. It turned out to be the perfect height as ergonomic guidelines suggest a standing station should have your elbows resting on desktop with 90 degrees of bend. I also elevated the monitor so that I could keep my gaze level, for optimal anatomical alignment.
It’s working like a charm. I even have a foot rest allowing me to shift weight from my back as desired. I’m now looking for a chair that is of enough height so I can take a seated rest now and then if I want. But if the choice is between being stuck standing or stuck sitting, I’m find that stuck standing is a far preferable option.
My new command center and surprise bonuses
My new work station profile has delivered in pleasing ways I hadn’t expected. For months, I’ve been standing during every radio appearance and teleclass. Sitting pools circulation in the lower extremities and makes the calves, your peripheral pump, check out of the action. Standing improves the energy flow throughout the body. I even noticed my voice would be different standing. Now, that feeling of command and creative energy is accessible whenever I’m at my desk. Productivity and clarity of mind are improved.
As surprise bonuses, sleep is more restful and at the end of a day of writing, radio and coaching. I am enjoying that delicious feeling in my body as if I’ve been more active throughout the day – which simply by sitting less, I have been.
Sure, my station is pieced together from old furniture parts. I figured this way I could see if there were unforeseen problems with a standing work station before I invested. I highly recommend this as an option before springing for a whole new setup in your home computer station. Maybe you will get hooked as I have!
This just in: ‘Sitting Less and Moving About More Could Be More Important Than Vigorous Exercise to Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes’
The correlation between sitting time, elevation of disease bio-markers and mortality are steel-solid. And the research advocating less time on you backside just keeps getting stronger. Recent newsflashes underscore that sitting less may be even more important to your health than getting vigorous exercise.
New research conducted by the University of Leicester suggests that simply reducing sit time by 9o minutes a day can lead to important health benefits.
Currently, at risk patients are advised to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) for at least 150 minutes per week. But the new study published in Diabetologia (The journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) suggests that patents should in fact be advised to reduce their sedentary time (time spent moving very little or not at all, for example sitting or lying down). ~ Science Daily.
Preliminary evidence provided by this study tells us that sedentary behavior “may be a more effective way to target the prevention of type 2 diabetes, rather than just solely focusing on MVPA.”
In other words, simply sitting less is apparently even more powerful than we might think.
4 tips for a great standing work station
Are you inspired to shuffle your desk space at home or work so that you can sit less? Take a page from my book and go for it. Don’t worry about fancy designs or big budgets. Here are some important checkpoints:
- Make sure you have the counter top the right height (remember the 90 degrees at elbows)
- Provide for some sort of foot rest to give variety to back position. The low ledge in the picture of my station at the top of this page is perfectly positioned for me to rest one foot on
- Elevate your computer or monitor so that your gaze is forward, keeping your head level and neck out of any forward droop – important for spinal integrity and a healthy neck
- If you can build in an easy option for taking a sitting respite, so much the better
Healthy Rx Takeaway: more plants on your plate and plant your feet on the ground
I calculated that yesterday I spent four hours less sitting than I would have had I not elevated my work station. Those hours add up! Pair more standing and less sitting with more whole plant foods on your plate and you easily advance your health and vitality.
Do you have a standing workstation option, or plans for one? Please share your ideas below!
Standing up while working on a computer whilst doing other types of work is much better than the couch-potato options. I have a similar setup for docking my laptop on an old inexpensive table that’s perfect for maintaining good posture and doing some exercise while reading, writing, viewing and listening.
Don, that sounds great! And it sounds like you were ahead of me o n the creative curve. Is this at work or home or are they one and the same? Do you have 2 stations to move between – both a stand and a sit – or do you opt for stand the whole time?
Thanks for stopping by to share!
My husband is 82 years old with very poor balance. What exercises would help him?
Depending on his condition, if he has been very sedentary than simply standing more ia a great place to start! From there, walking, and resistance training such to keep the upper body strong. Again, it depends on current condition. Research shows us that we can develop muscle and strength in our 80s and 90s almost as quickly as when we were decades younger, too.
Lani, yes, I either work from my stand-up docking station with a hi-fi sound system, or sitting down at a coffee table with my ancient Sony boombox. So my home is my office, and I also like to go to free open networks at the various malls close to my studio-apartment. It’s a great way to keep walking and standing while reading, writing, editing and making music.
Sounds like an amazing plan Don! You’ve developed some great habits for health.
I also began standing for work a few years ago, but I began to have issues with ugly veins developing in my legs (my doctor says my health is fine just too much standing). I understand the benefits but there are also issue with extended periods of standing so make sure you take a rest 🙁
Good advice Michele and that’s why I recommended having optons as optional.
I also mix my standing up with Fit Quickie #10, Legs Into Play, expressly to get the calves busy at doing their job as peripheral pump.
Did the doc say the problems you developed were specifically related to standing? And I think it makes a difference what the floor surface is as well –
I’ve been making my own clothes since I was 10 years old (43 years ago!) and because of sitting and the way it arches your neck, my chiropractor told me several years ago that to fix my neck and shoulders I needed to stand and sew. So I did! I got 4 regular old, ugly cement blocks and put my sewing machine cabinet up on them. Perfect height!!! I’ve been sewing standing up ever since. Now to do the same thing with my computer. I love your work station. I also love your new book, just got it last week. Thanks for the work you’re doing!
How absolutely innovative! I love it – and you’ve made proof in the pudding!
Thanks for sharing and for your kind words about the Fit Quickies book. Can’t wait to hear more!
Lani, I was so inspired by this post, and by a conversation with my editor earlier today, that I created my own stand-up desk this afternoon. I spend five minutes thinking about my options, another five pulling a garbage-picked coffee table out of my garage, and another five setting it up. And I’m sure my stand up desk creation will add much more than 15 minutes to my lifespan. Thanks for the post! I’m so glad it inspired me to action.
That is SO cool and you rock it! Did you take furniture from home to work, then? Or are you working at home? Did you devise a seated option too?
I love it and only hope that you’ll send me a snapshot of your creation!
Thank you so much!
Lani, I love the idea of standing while working in theory, but in practice, I have concerns about accuracy. I find I make (and miss!) many more errors when I am standing. I am the accountant where I work, and I have the responsibility for clear and accurate reporting, every day. So I sit to do the important work of entry, reconciliation and reporting. I do stand to open the mail, talk on the phone, deal with filing and paperwork, talk in someone else’s office, etc.
I wish I could encourage my fellow workers to stand for meetings–but only one person standing looks as though he or she is about to leave! I would feel awkward suggesting it even for when the directors (5 of us) meet. Any suggestions?
Sounds like you are doing a spectacular job with your standiing rhythm – phone, filing, mail – excellent!
If in a small meeting, I can see how you would ‘stand out’ more and perhaps feel a little more awkward. And yet you can turn it to your own perspective perhaps, with a “I’ve been sitting all day, would it bug anyone if I just stand for a few minutes during our meeting?” And then sit in awhile. It may just not translate to a small meeting setting, particularly if there is a lot of resistance to thoughts about health (still a wild notion, isn’t it?) so doing as well as you are doing the rest of the day (don’t know how often your meetings meet!).
You could also provide information about the hazards – the passages from the Fit Quickies book have no less than 4 research studies cited, and there are also article on my blog to which I can link you – you can print and share on the staff table?
I think in another 10 (or less) years automatic seated stations in offices will be antiquated – because productivity and wellnees of workers are being more closely tied and some companies are taking a lead in seeing how health measures actually save them insurance dollars.
You can also plead doctors advice.
As for the accuracy, I totally get that and it’s due, I think to what we are used to! When I first had to write creatively on computer, it was very difficult for me to get thought flow – the process was so connected to pen-in-hand that I couldn’t translate to keyboard. Well, with practice that reversed. Now when I want to write I can get the flow faster with a keyboard. So standing vs. sitting I can see as the same when it comes to numbers.
Let me know what happens. You are so innovative with engineering IN better diet, that the stand/sit thing should be – a piece of cake – and it sounds like it is for you! That’s where I got my feet wet with public change – the food. When I was the one who pulled out a sandwich and veggies at a staff meeting, at first feeling self-conscious, I soon realized that no one really cared. So often we are self-conscious for reasons imagined.
Keep me posted and thank you so much for the ocnversation!
Hi Lani…Great idea. lately I have had a worker at the house and things are stored all over the place. I am trying to do a lot of shredding and other clean up chores so have been sitting way too much. The other day I asked my handyman to help me find just one little area to spread out some paperwork so I don’t sit as much. We had cut out an opening between the kitchen and the dining area but it remains unfinished. I decided to sacrifice and old rotting picnic table and salvage a big board the used to be a seat. He attached it to the opening and voila. I have a place to work for now. I also have an old PC desk downstairs that I’ve been thinking of lengthening the legs with plumbing pipes to fit over my treadmill. I can use the laptop there. I’ll do that next week when I have help and let you know how it goes. Thanks for the encouragement. Lynn
Talk about innovative! I love your energy and determination and taking advantage of the moment.
Carpe diem! If you’re inspired, send a picture of you at your new innovation! I’m posting another article about the stand up station featuring Julianne who did just that.
Keep me posted and contrats!
This look good also, Treadmill Desk- http://misszippy1.com/2013/05/treadmill-desk-update.html
I work for the state of CA and unfortunately it is a TON of work to be able to stand at work. Dr. notes, red tape. So silly. My co-worker wanted to stand so he made his own desk and HR freaked out because it was different.
I hope to see more articles and evidence come out to show the major benefits. I only work 1/2 time and my back hurts from sitting by the end of my work week. When I was full time it was awful, I was in so much pain. I don’t think we were meant to sit for 8 hours a day.
just curious if your standing desk creation has changed at all since this post? and what you mean by the “foot rest” part of it? and did you find the perfect chair?
thanks for all you do….i’m off to try to find some ways to change my desk so i can stand!
My station is the same, except I DID get a stool to use when I need to perch. It’s a simple, backless barstool that I got at IKEA and placed a pad on. A better solution would be an official, foot-rested, low back support padded barstool and I may well invest.
By ‘foot – rest’ I mean an elevated area upon which you can put a raised foot. This takes standing pressure off of the back and is a comfortable option. I just took some long flights on Singapore Airlines and they have footrests in front of seats to serve the same purpose – very nice! For my desk, I can easily use the bottom platform that you can see in the picture – I simply put one foot on it. Ideally this is just a few inches off the ground, as you see in my picture. It helps with keeping correct pelvic position and posture.
Keep me posted with what you come up with – send a pic if you like!
So appreciate your comments,