In the Community
So You Stand All Day?May 11, 2015
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry staff have adopted "Stand-Up" desks in our daily routine. Read about our experiences here.
That’s an…interesting set up you have.” “So you stand all day?” “That is unusual.”
These are some of the comments my colleagues and I have experienced over the last year as many of our staff have chosen to transition to standing desks. It has been an exciting year for our staff -- learning about the benefits of standing desks, rearranging our offices and then rearranging them again, and answering all of the questions we get about our new office set up.
About a year ago, I began researching a standing desk to use here at Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. The idea had been brewing for a while, having seen previous co-workers use them. Once I mentioned the idea to other staff members, they were immediately on board and the idea took wing (or stood on its feet, as it were). As an office of mostly women, a good deal of time was spent deliberating the aesthetic appeal of one design over another, which shade best fits the décor of our offices, etc. We ordered our desks and spent the time immediately after delivery struggling to fit piece “A” with part “B.”
Then came the hard part -- slowing adjusting our bodies from sitting all day to standing. Each of us gradually transitioned to more standing, while layering in the necessary breaks. It took a different amount of time for each of us to eventually get comfortable standing for long periods of time. Now, it is standard practice for those of us who have chosen to participate.
Why go to the trouble, you might ask. There are numerous studies that have recently highlighted the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. “Prolonged sitting time (as a specific instance of sedentary behavior), independent of physical activity, has emerged as a risk factor for various negative health outcomes. Study results have demonstrated associations of prolonged sitting time with premature mortality; chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer; metabolic syndrome; and obesity1.” There is evidence that suggests that even regular physical exercise may not counteract the damage that can be done by a sedentary work life. The remedy for that may be standing. While standing, your body is constantly making “micro-movements,” aligning your posture and promoting balance. The overall idea is the promotion of more activity and reduction of the amount of time spent sitting or being inactive.
We, of course, have encountered our share of naysayers. “That’s just a fad, give it a couple of months and you will all be sitting down,” is a frequently heard statement. In truth, there are no current studies that scientifically link standing desks to improved health2. However, after a year of standing, I can say that I will not be abandoning my standing desk. Some of my colleagues have even taken it further. A glance through our office will show balance pads, chairs that incorporate a balance ball, and other indicators that we are all making a conscious effort to improve our health and overall well-being.
What I have noticed on a personal level is that I am more active. I am already up, so it is no big deal to dash down the hall to the printer or across my office for a file. I seem to move quicker as well, and I feel (even if I have no real metrics to back it up) that my overall productivity has been enhanced. Almost immediately, I felt my posture improve – a lifelong struggle my mother can attest to. My neck and shoulder muscles, always prone to tension, seem more relaxed in this posture. And, if the mood strikes and no one is watching, I might even bust a move to music while I am typing away.
As I mentioned before, it has been an interesting year. I have learned that I have flamingo tendencies. (For some reason, I like to stand on one foot.) I have learned that most people are interested enough to ask questions, and maybe we have inspired a couple of people to make the change. (I am picturing the balance ball chair that numerous people have “tested out” as they visit our office.) The biggest sacrifice has been the loss of being able to wear high heels. As someone who stands at five feet, this is no small sacrifice. But I know my heart, health, and productivity thank me. I’m learning to love flats. That might take a little longer to get used to than standing up.
Donor Services Associate
Community Foundation of the Lowcountry
1 Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, 2011 Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2012/11_0323.htm
2 Stand up for Better Health? Maybe Not Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/rise-jury-health-benefits-standing-desks/story?id=20882446