Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Stand up for goodness sake!

I work in an office. I wish I had chosen a different profession that meant that I would not spend my entire work day sitting down at my desk and staring at the screen (tip - if you are a teenager reading this, you should know that working in an office is rather dull).

Since it's too late for me to change what I do for a living I figured I would do something about my work environment instead. I have modified my sitting down desk into a standing desk! I must say that I do have an office to myself so this might not work for you if you work in a cubicle but you might pick up some helpful tips anyway.

Standing desk
Shruti's DIY standing desk!

Problem -
Why did I do this? Well here's something you might not know about sitting all day -
  • Too much sitting is associated with numerous problems, ranging from weight gain (I can attest to this claim), to osteoporosis, to cardiovascular disease.
  • Sitting decreases the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which helps burn fat.
  • Too much sedentary time decreases bone mineral density without increasing bone formation, which raises the risk of fracture.
  • Excess sitting increases blood pressure and decreases the diameter of arteries, both of which make heart disease more likely. 
  • Too much sitting could shorten your life!!! There are links between increased sedentary time and the risk of early death.
Many of us know that exercise is good for you and so we try exercise a few times a week and feel that we are in good shape and are helping our bodies stay fit and healthy. Well studies have shown that sitting all day is equally bad for even those of us who hit the gym every day! 'Active couch potatoes' is the phrase that is used these days to refer to people who lead a sedentary life and exercise a few hours a week. Active couch potatoes are equally at risk of suffering the aforementioned effects of sitting all day as someone who doesn't exercise regularly!!

Solution -
So here is what we can do about this -
  • Take a 10-minute activity break at a scheduled time every day.
  • Park farther away from the places where you work, shop, play, study and worship
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Put printers a short walking distance away from your work or study space instead of right next to it.
  • Replace desk chairs with stability balls — or use a standing desk to get rid of the chair entirely — to burn more calories while working. (I work for a not-for-profit organisation and my employer is unlikely to buy me a brand new standing desk as they cost upwards of $800, so I decided to make one myself. There is a great article on the wirecutter.com here that you might find useful too.)
  • Fidget, stand up and stretch at intervals during meetings.
If you do decide to go with the standing desk please ensure that you get regular sitting breaks (anything in excess is bad for your), movement is very important, just moving side to side is useful. Start slowly with just a few hours of standing and see how it goes.
I have been using my standing desk for the last 3 weeks and I love it. I am more productive, more alert and have more energy. I also am forced to have lunch away from my desk which is always a good thing.

What do you do to combat the woes of sitting all day?


  1. Wow that's so cool! I had no idea you were going that. I know you can get proper standing desks but that's really creative :) I've started to get really achey from sitting all day. I'm quite a fidget when I'm sat at my desk but I try and get up regularly for tea, printing etc. Getting out twice a week at lunch to walk the dogs is a great help too.

  2. Yeah, I am "lucky" enough to have crap loads of paper and boxes in my office so it was easy to create my own standing desk. Its been going really well. Mondays are when my legs get a little achy at the end but most other days, I forget that I'm standing until someone comes by and asks me if they have taken my chair away :)