The first few years of designing full time I sat at a traditional desk. And sat, and sat, and sat.
8+ hours a day sitting with terrible posture while staring intensely at a bright screen. I’d come home feeling exhausted, crumpled, and with lots of back and neck pain. In my third year of sitting at my full-time design job, I was lucky enough to run across an article about how sitting all day was slowly killing office workers (something like this). AND MY WORLD CHANGED.
My boss had an old medical office desk that could adjust to standing or sitting height, so I gave it a whirl. It took almost a month, but I finally found myself standing up, stretching, and moving for around 6ish hours a work day – which left me feeling more wonderful than ever at work. I felt more creative, vibrant, and healthy. Here’s my non-medical advice if you’re interested in trying it out :
Quick tips for using a standing desk :
1. Start in small increments. Something like 15 minutes standing, 45 minutes sitting could be a nice place to begin.
2. Train your legs! It’s important to keep them active and to not lock out your knees, or lean on the desk.
3. A standing mat (anti-fatigue mat) is a solid investment. A mat like this one is a great choice to keep your legs, feet, and knees on a comfortable plane. If you can, take your shoes off, too!
4. Take breaks. Grab a stool and sit (yes, sit!) while eating, taking notes, answering emails – or any tasks where you’d like to feel more at ease. Even with all the healthy benefits of standing – everything in moderation! This will help break up your day and add little boosts of concentration.
Benefits I’ve found from my standing desk :
1. My legs, feet, neck, and back feel wonderful – no more crumply pain! Plus, I swear my legs are stronger than they ever have been. In the beginning they were sore, but the endurance increased every day.
2. I’m energized! I’m up and about pretty much all day, and I rarely ever get the sleepy put-my-head-down-on-my-desk feeling around 3pm.
3. I’m more actively inspired and have more of what I like to call “brain energy”. When I sat for hours I began to feel stuck – and that physical feeling translated to my creativity. Standing up just feels free and open to me – more space and movement translates to trying and feeling new things.
4. My circulation has improved incredibly. Before my standing days if I got up too fast I’d feel dizzy, but those days are long gone!
Please note, I’m definitely not a medical professional. Feel free to talk to your doc about trying a standing regimen, as it does come with rave reviews, and some necessary limitations! Here are some handy articles for more research :
This article from The Smithsonian explains 5 huge health benefits backed by studies, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and cancer – woohoo!
Everything Science Knows Right Now About Standing Desks from Fast Co »
And 5 ways you can actually screw up the standing desk from US News »