Is a Standing Desk Right for You?

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I’m writing this from my standing desk. I’ve had it for a few months and... I love it!

The first time I saw someone use a standing desk was at a client’s office that I frequent. Every time, I would see Andrea, a registered dietitian, working at her standing desk. “I have always been someone who works best while moving,” she told me. “A standing desk helps me to focus more on tasks while still being able to freely move around.”

Gradually, other people who work with Andrea got standing desks and the idea started to grow on me. I have lower back pain and gave up on finding the perfect chair, seat cushion, and lumbar support pillow a long time ago. But, as a freelance writer, I also spend a lot of time at my desk.

Plus, I’ve read that sitting is the new smoking.

So I gave standing a trial run.

I put my laptop on top of two telephone books (yes, the printed ones!) and a stack of old ADA journals. The journals made it easy to adjust the height. As I started to type, standing felt good and my back didn’t hurt.

I searched Craigslist and got a great deal on a gently-used standing desk. It came with a cushioned mat, which Andrea highly recommends.

How much you stand is an individual thing. Andrea stands all day, every day. Dominique, a health educator who works with Andrea, says she tries to stand for at least half of her workday. “If I am on calls, I make it a point to stand,” she said.

I’ve found that alternating between standing and sitting works best for me. I stand for about an hour, then sit for 30-45 minutes, then stand for an hour, then sit… you get the idea!

While research is mixed about the health benefits of standing desks, we know that sitting for long periods of time increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Andrea and I agree that spending less time sitting is a good thing. And I just feel more productive when standing.

Standing at my desk, I have a great view of the bird feeders outside my window. I love watching the cardinals, robins, and tiny bright yellow finches. I occasionally bang on the window to get the squirrels off the feeders. So you see, standing is as good for the birds as it is for me!

By Hollis Bass, MEd, RD

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