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Stand Up Desks: Are They Worth It?

Last year Dave from the Lux Group Customer Service team opted to get himself a stand up desk, and for the last six months he’s been full-time standing. Here he shares with us why he banished his chair for good, and why you should try it too…

Why did I get one?

Neck pain. We’ve all had it. I used to come into work every day and within 20 minutes a dull pain would rise through the back of my neck and head.

Also, my posture sucked. I tried a million different desk layouts to combat the problem – trying to find the perfect height and position for each device (keyboard, monitor, etc.) to reduce the pain but nothing seemed to work. Eventually I started looking at other solutions entirely – enter: the stand-up desk.

Ergonomics

Look, the reality is that if you’re sitting down all day, your posture sucks too. Sorry.

Your shoulders are curled forward, your spine has inadequate support, your head is leaning forward putting strain on the muscles in the back of your neck (remember your head weighs about 5kgs!).

Your sedentary lifestyle of sitting all day, every day is causing your muscles to atrophy, which is why you find climbing stairs a hard time. Not to mention you’ve probably got a horizontal mouse which isn’t the natural position for your forearm/wrist, thus increasing the possibility of getting carpal tunnel syndrome – that’s when your fingers start twitching unexpectedly. Yeah, not cool.

Why You Should Get One

Fancy running 10 marathons a year? Hell no, me neither!

But a study done by the BBC & the University of Chester found that using a stand-up desk for 3 hours per day, resulted in calorie-burn equivalent to running 10 marathons per year. So basically you’re free to eat tons more cake and not feel guilty about it.

Participants in the study were also found to have lower blood sugar levels (assuming they didn’t eat tons of cake) and lower cholesterol, thus lowering the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Okay, I’m not going to sit here and harp on about the ins and outs of weight-loss and calorie control, but there’s no doubt that as we get older our metabolism slows down. The benefits to your health of standing up even for just 3 hours per day are plentiful.

Full Time Standing

One of the ‘risks’ of getting a stand-up desk is that you probably won’t know if it’s for you unless you’ve tried it for a meaningful period of time.

Standing at your mates’ desk for a few minutes ‘to see how it feels’ isn’t going to work because it’s completely different to what you’re used to. It’s a huge change, and initially your body (and your mind) probably won’t be all that keen.

Ideally you could borrow someone’s stand-up desk (or sit in their spot) while they’re away, but life isn’t often that convenient.

My personal experience was that after a couple of weeks of alternating standing & sitting, I found my body wanting to spend more and more time standing. In fact, sitting made me feel lethargic while standing up made me feel far more productive and energetic.

So one day I decided to bin my chair entirely and stand up full time – no sitting whatsoever. I don’t even have a chair now, and I would never go back to sitting by choice.

Of course, standing all day isn’t good for your body either – the joints in your ankles and knees won’t thank you for the additional strain and reduced blood flow. So I did some research and got myself a balance board from eBay – one of those weird UFO-shaped discs usually used for ankle rehabilitation.

Now, contrary to popular belief, I don’t stand/squat on this baby all day (although I do have impeccable abs) – I mainly use it to shift my feet about regularly.

How can you do it?

Well clearly the first step is to take the plunge and buy your standing desk. Granted – they’re not cheap, but if you charm the socks off HR you might just get a subsidy.

Some important advice at this stage is to ease yourself into standing gradually. This is a big change in your daily routine – initially you’ll probably feel some aches and pains that weren’t there before and you might have second thoughts.

Don’t worry – this is perfectly normal – your body is adjusting to the glorious stand-up life, and various muscles (such as those in your lower back and legs) are being challenged more-so than usual.

Day 1

When your fabulous new desk arrives, clear everything from your current desk and clean it. Go on – give it a good scrub. Do your keyboard, mouse and monitor while you’re at it and throw away any junk that’s been hanging around for far too long – a clear desk is a clear mind (although Einstein’s desk was apparently a total mess, go figure).

Stand up for 1 hour and sit down for the rest of the day.

Day 2

Stand up for 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon.

Rest of week 1

Stand up for 2 hours in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon.

For the rest of the week make adjustments to your workstation to ensure that your posture is correct, based on how you’ve felt for the first few days. For example – your monitors are probably too low (especially if you’re tall) – raise them a few inches, they should be about eye-level. Move your keyboard so that it’s at a height which means your elbows are at 90 degree angles. Need more guidance? Google ‘stand-up desk ergonomics’ and you’ll find plenty of help!

Week 2+

Continue to adjust your workstation to address any ongoing pain or uncomfortable feelings, such as in the neck, back or legs/feet. Your body is still adjusting.

Increase your standing to 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon.

If you’d like more information about Lux Group’s stand up desk subsidy program or desk ergonomics, email peopleandculture@luxgroup.com.