Friday, March 27, 2015

Will a standing desk help me?

Evidence shows that sitting at a desk for long periods is unhealthy, even if you exercise a lot.  “Time spent sitting is consistently associated with premature mortality, diabetes, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, irrespective of time spent in exercise “ (Vichealth 2012).

Is a standing desk the answer?
Working at a standing desk has captured our imagination. A Vichealth survey of its own workers trialing standing desks found great benefits to their use.

Here's my favourite standing desk
- the human hamster wheel.
Designed by Robb, find it at 
But be aware. You are likely to take bad habits with you, or adopt new ones.

Try answering these questions

  • Do you slump in sitting or standing?
  • Are your shoulders and arms rigid?
  • Are your hips further forward than your shoulders when you stand?

Staff at VicHealth identified limits to using standing desks. These included longer keyboard sessions, back pain, fatigue, old habits, and type of footwear (eg, high heels).

My suggestions for your work

* Leave your work station for two minutes every 20 minutes, as recommended by Baker IDI (Australia's highly regarded medical research institute). You don’t have to leave the job behind – try keeping your mental focus on the particular task. You’re just taking the body for a walk, not your mind – but feel free to do this too.

My standing desk for reading and writing
* Try before you buy. Rig up a temporary high bench using a box or pile of books. For writing and reading, do it on a sloping surface if possible. Stand in different ways, not just square on. Try a tai chi stance, with one foot slightly ahead and angled out. When you do buy, make sure your standing desk is adjustable, and not rigid in one position.

* Keep several eyes on your posture and on any tension. Try and understand your  deep seated habits. Ask colleagues to observe you and give gentle feedback on your posture. Learn how to say “no” to these habits using my blogposts, for example on slumping, tight shoulders and arms, and hip position. 

20 minute check-up 
I specialise in teaching office workers how to deal with their habits. And I have learnt much about how to set up a work station.  Why not book a 20 minute check-up. It won’t cost a fortune, and will put you in good stead for managing the many hours you spend in the office.

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