Balance is a tricky skill.

Balance is a tricky skill.

If you’re like many people you balance easily. Riding a bicycle was an early thing for you. Likewise trying a skateboard or balance beam. Maybe you even are clever enough to use a unicycle or a slackline.

Not me — I’ve always been a little off kilter. I didn’t really notice it when it took me until I was 10 to ride a bike. I have trouble reading when cars are in motion — instant motion sickness. I hate being the passenger in a car unless I have something else to distract me (music). Continue reading “Balance is a tricky skill.”

Don’t Miss These 5 Reasons To Use a Standing Desk

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Standing up, all day? Really? What are some of the main reasons you might consider using a Standing Desk as your primary workstation?

Reason #1 – Using a Standing Desk Promotes Healthy Habits

Using a standing desk is a great example of a tiny habit – a change in a behavior because you had an epiphany – perhaps because you realized that sitting down all of the time is not great for you. Taking small steps toward this goal is a good first start. You might not be able to stand all day and every day for quite a while, or you might have health constraints that prevent you from doing that. But realizing that you ought to move around more, taking the steps to do that, and making a commitment to do that every day is a key component for behavioral change.

Reason #2 – If you Track One Thing, You Might Track Another.

You might be interested in a standing desk because you are a “quantified self” person – interested in tracking changes in your health and behavior with technology – and using devices like a Fitbit or a Jawbone up can help you to know the equivalent steps you’re taking as you stand up during more hours of the day.

Reason #3 – You’d like to be Thinner.

This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. Stand more, burn more calories, eat the same amount, and lose weight. It’s a relatively small change (300 calories a day for a 180lb person, but over a year of working that could add up to 20lbs (300 * 5 * 48 / 3500).

Reason #4 – Using a Standing Desk Stimulates Your Brain

Walk more (and move around more), and researchers have found that moving increases your working memory]. So it’s reasonable to conclude that the act of balancing your body and holding it in space keeps you more awake.

Reason #5 – Using a Standing Desk Might Improve your Mood

There haven’t been many studies to address the question of using a Standing Desk as a potential anti-depression method, but this study is promising. For the people who participated in the study, standing and working produced a statistically significant improvement in mood.

How can you get started using a standing desk? There are some easy hacks, including this one, many IKEA versions, and other ideas. (I use a drafting table raised to elbow height when standing, and prop my monitor with some heavy books.)

You should be incorporating some stretches, drinking water, and taking plenty of breaks. It took me several weeks before standing up all day felt natural.

Need some more ideas?

Check out these articles

A Year of Using a Standup Desk

I’ve been using a computer at a standup desk since April 2012 (almost a year.) When I first started using a standup desk, the key things that I noticed were that it was challenging to stand all day and that I felt more awake and able to contribute. 

Companies (especially startups) are noticing the twin benefits of standing up and of the attendant productivity gains – here’s a video demonstrating what the folks at Freshbooks are doing:

Fast forward to February 2013, and the following things about using a standup desk seem true to me:

  • Standing for long periods of time now feels natural
  • The overall fitness benefit is substantial
  • And my ability to make points as a public speaker is better

What’s the net benefit for each of these observations? Continue reading “A Year of Using a Standup Desk”

Standing Desk: Two Weeks Later

standing desk

I’ve been standing at my desk now for two weeks. I wanted to provide an update on my original post about using a standing desk for a couple of different reasons:

  • the overall response has been overwhelming – I know the old adage about “when the only tool you have is a hammer, all you see is nails” but I do believe that both the interest in and information about standing desks is really gaining momentum – and more of my friends are using one and commenting about it
  • there is new research suggesting that the more hours you sit, the higher the likelihood you will die prematurely
  • I think (anecdotally) that standing makes me more effective, gives me more energy overall, and makes me more effective

It turns out lots of people use standing desks

The most amazing thing about the last two weeks has been the process of finding out how many people I know are either using or considering the use of a standing desk. These people have made the choice for a variety of reasons – many, to resolve back issues – and the constant theme among their comments is that they feel better, get more work done, and that it has been a habit that they’ve been able to maintain.

The discussion spanned people from all walks of life. I thought that this was mostly a trend for geeks, and found that it’s much wider than that.

The other interesting observation about the people who use standing desks is that they are among the most productive and successful people that I know. I don’t think there is a correlation here yet – but it’s still interesting – and worth more thought in the future.

The media is starting to pay attention

For the average person, the standing desk probably seems like a weird fad that will fade. But the media is starting to pay attention to the possibilities raised by the long-term effects of sedentary behavior. So what? It means that whatever you can do to reduce the amount of time sitting is good – either taking a brisk walk once a day, making sure that you do your household activities in a burst of activity so that you are standing for a longer period of time. Note: there is definitely a segment of the population that can’t exercise this way – and it would seem that other low-impact activities like swimming might be a great substitute.

It still feels great to stand

I was really tired the first week of using the standing desk. I’m doing better now, and still feeling the same benefits of being intentional, feeling focused, and getting good amounts of work done. I look forward to seeing how I feel after a few months of this activity, and whether anything else has changed.

What’s it like to work at a Standing Desk?

my modest standing desk – 15 minutes of effort to transform a drafting table

In a word, intentional. I’ve been reading a lot about the dangers of sitting for many hours a day and I took the time to watch a video by James Levine on moving around more. I also read an article that suggested that sitting may be deadly and thought, “what’s a small thing that I can do to test this theory and to get a little bit more exercise at the same time?” So I took my drafting table and raised it to 40″ height, added a few books to prop up my monitor, and started standing.

Here are a few things I’ve learned after Day 1 of using a Standing Desk – I’m recording them here to see how I feel after week 1 and month 1 of this process.

It’s Hard to Stand Up All Day

This standing up thing is much harder than I thought. Previously in environments when I’ve been standing, it’s been at a trade show or at an environment where I knew there was a definite endpoint, not just a goal to change my lifestyle and a habit that I’ve been in for … (gulp) decades. Today, I kept looking around for my chair and wondering when I would reach my hour mark so that I could take a 5-10 minute break on a chair.

I feel much more focused

It might just be because the other stimuli involved in staying upright and trying to focus are distracting me less, but I feel much more focused and able to power through what I’m doing and stay on task. This is a potentially neat side effect that I really didn’t consider when I thought about the general goals of standing to improve health and overall posture.

I’m looking forward to the next steps

I like how I feel after day 1. I’m sure that the next few days and weeks are going to be challenging as I get tired or fatigued and think of lots of reasons why I’d like to stop doing this. So here’s what I’m doing to help myself keep this habit:

  • Keeping a time clock – I’ll continue to keep an idea on time and take a walking or sitting break every 45-60 minutes, which is probably good for me anyway;
  • Staying focused on a single task for at least 15-30 minute blocks – staying on task and focusing on one type of work at a time is also a good habit that I’d like to keep and refine;
  • Acquiring a bar-style chair to make it easier to rest for longer periods of time if necessary.

A goal I’d like to have longer term once I’ve been doing this for a few weeks or months is to consider getting a low-speed treadmill like The Tread – I’m a little wary of buying one without having a way to try it out but it seems like a great compromise between hacking up a used treadmill and buying a “treadmill desk” which is neither great for computing nor for being a treadmill. I hope the standing continues to feel intentional, and am looking forward to what’s next.

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