Is a Standing Desk Right For You? Here’s What We’ve Learned Since Switching
As a someone who writes for a living, I like to take my cues from the best writers in history. I like to believe that I’m carrying on a tradition of literary genius when I go out and do a writing day in some obscure cafe. Or when I drag myself out of bed to make sure I do my three hours of writing every day.
So imagine my glee that I get to follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway by having my own standing desk. Yes, they seem relatively new, but the standing desk is actually a concept that can be traced back to some of history’s great creative minds.
I’m relatively new to the standing desk world, since mine was recently sent over by the lovely folks at VARIDESK. But in recent years, they’ve taken the startup world by storm, and for good reason. Here are a few of the reasons so many people swear by them.
You get healthier
The idea of a standing desk has been around for centuries. You can even go back as far as the 1700s to find mention of a standing desk and its health benefits. But the idea has grown in popularity the more we’ve suffered the harms of sitting around all day.
We live in a world that has slowly become more and more sedentary. Some people spend up to nine hours a day sitting down! When you factor in that you spend at least six hours sleeping, you’re spending the majority of your day off your feet and putting your health at risk.
It’s a well-documented fact that sitting down for extended periods of time is bad for your health. I’m not just talking about the occasional neck or back pains either. I mean that research has found that those who sit all the time have a higher risk of early death by nearly a third when compared to those who stand most of the time.
You’re more prone to develop arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues later on in life. That’s not even mentioning the fact that you’re much more likely pack on the pounds, which isn’t much of a surprise when you think about how few calories you’re burning while sitting in place.
A lot of people get into the mindset that it’s okay if they’re sitting for the majority of the day, because they’ll be able to make up for it by going to the gym. But that’s one hour of high-level activity stacked up against at least 15 hours of being sedentary. While exercise is important, it doesn’t necessarily balance out the negative effects of sitting down for such extended periods of time.
“Exercise is not a substitute for activities that come naturally throughout the day, 365 days a year, for the rest of your life.” – Joan Vernikos, NASA scientist and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals
Although that doesn’t mean that you should go off and immediately start standing around for hours at a time. If you’re someone who usually spends the majority of your waking day sitting down, then you need to ease yourself into standing more often.
Just as you don’t just run a marathon without any preparation, you have to train your body to get used to the fact that you’re becoming more active as a person.
When I first got my standing desk, I started off slowly, making sure to stand for five minutes or so every hour, taking advantage of the hybrid nature of my new desk. What I found was that my body quickly adjusted and now my lower back pain is now significantly reduced, my posture is better, and I spend half of my working time standing instead of sitting.
While the long-term health benefits are all well and good I’m also finding myself getting much more immediate results now that I’ve made the effort to stand more. I’ve found that…
You have more energy
One of the things you’ll quickly learn is that you’re going to naturally have a lot more energy once you get a standing desk.
The issue most people have with exercise and being more active in general is the thought of all the hard work that they’re eventually going to have to do. It’s why we procrastinate and put things off, because we know how much work it’s going to take. So instead of doing anything, we often decide to not even take the first step and remain stationary.
It’s a well-established fact that exercise greatly increases your energy levels and reduces fatigue. Going to the gym regularly certainly helps if you can work it into your schedule.
But it turns out that you don’t need to be scheduling an hour every day to work out in order to start feeling more active and energetic. All you really need to do is start incorporating a little more activity into your daily routine.
It’s been shown that standing desk users have around 13% more energy throughout the course of an eight-hour day. At the end of another study on standing desks, 87% of the study’s participants reported increased vigor and energy throughout the day.
Aside from the physical benefit of standing itself, there’s another thing I’ve noticed about my standing desk. Let’s think about your body as if it’s your first car, you know that jalopy hunk of metal that was missing a seatbelt or two and was made 10 years before airbags became mandatory. You remember trying to start that car up every morning? Turning the key and just praying that the engine would kick in? But once it did spark to life and started moving, then you were all gravy. Until you stopped the car again, that is.
It was always a good day when you didn’t have to push the car first to get it started.
Well that’s basically how your body works. The longer you’re in a static position the harder it gets for you to start moving again. So it comes as no surprise that when you’re standing, your body just naturally starts becoming more active.
By already being upright, you remove the subtle mental block that comes with sitting around all day.
When you remain in a sedentary position the entire time, not only does your health suffer, but your brain starts actively resisting any reason for you to get up. Even the idea of getting up to go get a glass of water suddenly becomes a chore. Suddenly moving from such a static position to an active one is something our brain actively fights against.
When you’re standing, you’re already in an active position, so when that simple idea of fetching yourself a glass of water comes around, you’ll actually go get it. You might even decide it’s worth your time to go down the street to that juice bar you’ve been eyeing for a while. In the process of doing so, you’ll be walking around, maybe go up some stairs, and just by doing that you’re giving your giving your body just that a little bit of exercise to keep you going.
It might not seem much at first, but these little bits of activity all add up. When given the option of a standing desk, it’s been found that, on average, people will spend 2.5 fewer hours sitting down.
Despite the fact that I have made almost no change to my lifestyle since getting a standing desk, I’ve been finding myself having way more energy than I used to, and I’ve even found that…
You become more productive
One of the biggest benefits I’ve found with a standing desk is that my overall productivity has risen and I can get more work done. If you’re like me and you’re working in a startup, then you’re responsible for a lot of different things.
It’s a constant workload and if you’re not moving fast enough, all you’re doing is holding everyone else back. If you’re an entrepreneur then you’re definitely familiar with this kind of high-pressure environment. Which is why I absolutely need every advantage I can get when it comes to being more productive and more efficient with my work.
The desk I have is a Varidesk Pro Plus 36, which is hybrid desk that allows me to easily adjust it from a sitting to a standing position. It’s great because I don’t have to make the extreme choices of standing for my entire work day, or having to move between two different workspaces. This neat ability to manipulate my work environment at will has done wonders for my productivity.
A worker’s environment is incredibly important to not only their productivity and performance, but their general mood and behavior. It’s only because of our environment that we’re able to develop good or bad habits.
My desk has allowed me to develop great habits when it comes to working. Every time I switch my desk to standing mode, I find myself being able to focus more on whatever task it is I’m doing. By only working while standing I’ve managed to create a positive habit field that makes me much more efficient with my work.
Although I have noticed that because I’ve become so much more focused on specific tasks while standing, the tradeoff is that I’m not as creative. The best environment to foster creativity is one that’s filled with distractions and moments where you can let your mind wander.
Which is why it’s great that I can simply switch my desk from standing to sitting mode. It’s like a switch goes off in my mind where standing means I need to be focused and sitting lets me be creative.
It also helps that I find myself less stressed now that I have a standing desk. Multiple studies have backed up that those who use standing desks are more likely to have improved moods and lower levels of stress and fatigue.
As many of you no doubt know, burnout can seriously suck for entrepreneurs. So it’s great to know that such a simple change can seriously reduce the threat of burning out and finding yourself grinding to a complete stop.
Standing desks have become a new institution in the modern office, especially in tech and startups. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all jumped aboard and outfitted their offices with standing desks.
But it’s important to separate the fad and the reality of the situation.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical when the people at VARIDESK initially contacted us and offered to help us outfit our new office. But ever since I’ve started using my standing desk, I can’t ever see myself going back. It’s a very simple change of lifestyle and there are huge benefits to both your work and your health.
So get out of that chair and start standing around more often. Actually push yourself to walk around more and be more active—you’ll surprise yourself with how much you can accomplish.
What about you, Foundr family? Have you all tried standing desks? Or even the elusive treadmill desk? How do you like it? Let us know below.