I’m going to start at the end first.
It’s not pretty, but click on the graphic to the left to see some interesting stats.
It’s been almost 7 months that I have been standing at my desk at work. There are a couple of things I have noticed that are a bit of a surprise to me. First I think I am getting more work done. I don’t know if it is because I feel more alert and mentally active due to being physically active but whatever it is my productivity seems to be up. I have noted before that it’s “easier” to wander off and do things and that is no joke. Whenever I am home watching the TV or forced to sit during meetings I develop an aversion to getting up. It’s like the chair gets hold of me and drains my will to live. At least when I am standing at work it feels like I am ready to go do something, whatever it may be and that has had an effect on my mental outlook. I find myself more helpful, more willing to go out and assist with things, possibly because I don’t feel like I am glued to my desk but rather hovering near my desk in preparation for something to do. My posture, including my back ache is much improved and for someone with my history of back problems that is reason enough to maintain my standing. My leg ache was gone after a few days, I don’t have any issue doing my workouts in conjunction with standing and even though I thought my traps and shoulders would be a big problem, that issue never developed. I find that I do unconscious active stretching throughout the day and that helps to keep things moving. It’s been a major change to my work habits, but I think it has been a positive one. 2 weeks ago I had to spend 2 full days in a Kaizen event for work and sitting all day made me irritable and twitchy, I stood up whenever I could but it made me miserable to be in a chair all day. By the end of the second day I knew I had made the right decision to remain on my feet. You should try it, it’s not as tough as you may think. People may think it’s weird, but that’s OK, working out every day is weird to some people too. I am not the only one either, there are plenty of people here, here and here that are enjoying the benefits and some ingenious ways of building the desk here and here too.
(Who uses standing desks?) More people than I’d realized, especially techies! Former Twitter developer and founder of BankSimple Alex Payne. Creator of Instapaper Marco Arment. Podcaster extraordinaire Dan Benjamin. Novelist Philip Roth. Former U.S. Secretary of DefenseDonald Rumsfeld. Lifehacker editor Jason Fitzpatrick. Now, newly, my fellow San Diego techie Mitch Wagner. Who else?
Balance and Power is a workout that I have come to enjoy. I am a fan of balance work and I think this particular session does a great job of balancing the strength aspects with the coordination work to give a good all around workout. It’s not developing strength, but it’s developing the supporting mechanical systems to promote strength. I really enjoy it, it’s too bad it’s over for a while.
Phase 2 will start this week. I have bootcamp to lead Monday and Wednesday and I may try to kick off Chest+Back+Balance on Tuesday since my bootcamps this week are bodyweight then cardio. I am ready for phase 2, the building phase was good but I am eager to add some more challenging weight work to my schedule and kick it into high gear. I am a little frustrated with using my indoor chin up bar but there’s not much I can do. It will be above zero all week this week , so I may actually go out onto the deck whenever pullups are on the cards. I am fortunate that this winter has been mild so far and I really should have taken advantage of it more by getting out there. I did bring my gym rings indoors too and I should find a place to hang them. Lots to do!
It’s my 9th day of standing at work. I sometimes feel like I am doing a charity event or something, seeing how long I can go and letting people bet on the outcome. Most people think it’s a bit odd but given my history of having had back surgery I use the “sitting is uncomfortable” line as a standard reply to “why?”. It’s not about my back though, it’s about my health.
I have been more tired due to spending days on my feet but I remember well the days of working summers in a chocolate factory, even the night shift polishing smarties and the fact that most of my school career my summer jobs were active or at the very least upright. Those days taught me the value of hard physical days and the rewards they brought. In fact, I remember the first summer job I got that wasn’t active, it was an auditing job at an investment firm and I hated it. I went out for lunches every day, gained a ton of weight and was the fattest I had been since moving to Canada. It was over about 2 months later and I was glad to see the back of it. Ever since then, I worked construction jobs, chocolate packing, shipping and receiving and other physically active occupations. It makes sense then that I should try to find a way to remain out of my chair since even the most ardent sloth would have to agree that 8 hours in one sitting position just can’t be good.
It’s hard to know what makes a big difference to me nowadays, I am on a constantly changing workout schedule, a couple of extremely long days coaching and of course I am always changing my food to stay interesting. However, I expected my feet to be very sore, my back to ache and my shoulders to cry out for nightly massage but it seems that those things are only part of the initial learning curve. By now my feet are OK, I am used to moving while I work, and standing up makes it far more easy for me to wander off to do other things. It sounds crazy but when you are sitting for a while, the idea of getting up just seems like too much work!
My legs don’t ache any more, and if they do it’s more likely due to the hills and sprints or the WODs I am doing with the girls at gym. Speaking of which, I am trying to get some working out done with them during conditioning. I am expecting high standards of work from them and it makes sense that my participation, even partial would serve as motivation for them. On Monday I did 5 rounds of Chelsea during their workout, it helped me since something beats nothing every time but I think it also helped them to see me sharing their pain.
July 19 2011 – The day the desk died.
So it’s not the first time I have tried this epic movement away from my desk chair. Once again it was a post by Fitbomb that encouraged me to get my ass out of my chair and convert my work space to a standing space. The health benefits are immense, but the learning curve is just as massive.
Fact is however, that as much as my couch is trying to kill me, I spend most of my time at work and therefore on my butt. So I have a temporary solution while I wait for the inspiration to build something more permanent.
It’s certainly not pretty and for the 3 hours that I had the setup yesterday it was almost torture. Hopefully today I will be a little more used to it however it’s a long 8 hours on my feet that I am nervous about. I suppose just like anything, once you get over the initial pain, awkwardness and difficulty it turns out fine. The issue currently is that the space for the mouse isn’t really big enough and because it is an empty box, the surface itself is a little wobbly when I type quickly (which thankfully is not often!). Once I manage to get a proper solid surface, I think it will be much better.
The big question is why? Well, the statistics that caught my eye were related to people like myself who believe that working out each day is enough to lengthen their life. Unfortunately, if you have a sedentary job, you may not be doing the kind of good you were hoping for.
Those who sit 3 hours or more (and that time goes like a rocket) per day watching TV (or whatever) are 64% more likely to die from heart disease.
Of those who sit on front of the TV 3 hours per day, those who exercise (and believe they are staying “fit”) are JUST AS FAT as those who don’t. Each hour of watching TV = 11% higher death risk.
Not only that, but obese people sit for an average of 2.5 hours more per day than the rest.
Scary stuff. Enough to scare me onto my feet, at least to see what the difference is.