When you can't muster the strength to right-click your mouse, it's time to act. I arrived in that grim condition a few weeks ago. Severe pain in my back and shoulder, numbness and weakness in my right arm. About $10,000 in medical testing later, I still don't know the exact cause. But one non-medical step I took has seemed to help.
That got to me do some digging. I posted a frightening infographic a couple of weeks ago. Then I decided to stand for something myself. But first, some more of my findings.
- People who sit more than 6 hours a day are 40 percent more likely to die in the next 15 years than those who sit less than 3.
- Depending on your weight at the outset, standing for an hour burns 30 to 60 more calories than sitting for the same hour.
- Sitting raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol almost immediately and in everyone.
- People who exercise regularly and vigorously but watch a lot of TV are as likely to be overweight as those who never exercise but don’t watch TV
- And much, much more
What I Have Done
I made myself a standing desk-topper and brought it to work last week. This has alleviated the right arm paralysis and severe back pain. In case I need to sit down during the day, I’ve added a bar stool to my office—but I try to use it less than an hour a day.
Those who stand instead of sitting will likely see:
- Fewer back problems
- Better cholesterol numbers
- Lower blood pressure
- Better weight
- Lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers
What I've Learned
1. Make your standing desk comfortable. I use a makeshift desk topper at home (boxes, books, and the like), but it's more difficult to work with. My handmade work desk topper measures 48''x 18''. That's enough room for a monitor, keyboard, laptop, and two mice. And it feels like a desk. (email me for my simple plans to make one for about $40.)
2. If you bring one to work, have an elevator speech ready to answer questions. About 20 people have walked into my office to talk about mine, and it helped when I jotted down a few facts (which became this blog post).
3. Wear comfortable shoes.
4. After a two or three day break-in period, expect that you'll want to be up and moving more often. (I have a hard time sitting for more than half an hour.)
5. If you work in an office, talk to your HR people about the health benefits of standing desks. They might want to make that a wellness option.
6. Measure your health benefits. I have not lost any weight, but my blood pressure dropped consistently, down to 123/77 from a concerning 134/88. My resting heart-rate is down to 59 bpm.
What Others Are Saying Over at ZenHabits.net, Corbett Barr has a great blog post about his experiment with a standing desk. Corbett's about a week ahead of me, and he's lost three pounds. Gina Trapini talks about her switch to standing, including photos of her cool desk (that she built herself from an Ikea table).
Jason Fitzpatrick shows how to create a simple standing desk for about twenty bucks.