My First Week With A Standing Desk

I have made it, it’s been a full seven- well, five days of working with a standing desk, and its been, in a word, awesome.

First, some background, I have always had pretty bad posture. Between a heavy backpack, playing field hockey and long hours at work, my shoulders seem to have taken up residence right next to my ears. I have spent the last five months working at a sitting desk, in a job where I am required to be alert, focused, communicative, and working on multiple projects at one time.

While I have been managing my workload just fine, it seems as if every project has been like climbing a mountain – it’s alright once I get into it, but extremely difficult to start.

Enter the standing desk.

After seeing some of my co-workers attempt the feat, my original thought was, ‘Are you crazy? I’m at work talking to people for 9+ hours a day, why would I ever want to increase the energy level required by STANDING?” After some further research of the phenomena, however, it suddenly seemed like a good idea. It was supposed to help my posture and my productivity? I took in 30% less oxygen while hunched over my desk? Sitting all day increased my risk of heart disease?

Suddenly my shoulders felt a lot more hunched, my back a lot more achy and my energy level a bit lower. So last friday, on a whim, I bit the bullet and asked for a standing desk.

Now its one week later, and I thought I’d share my observations:

Standing Desk

1) My posture is better.

While it might sound questionable that it could happen that fast, it has. I have realized since I spend less time hunched over my desk, my shoulders have moved to a much more normal position at the base of my neck. My back is straighter, and I’m more aware of its movements.

Standing has also allowed me to spend more time in power poses, and accomplish tasks better, more on that later.

2) My back hurts less.

Coming from someone who’s back hurts a lot (remember that backpack). I find since I am hunching a lot less. My back is much more comfortable, less compressed. When I do occasionally slouch, or hunch myself over my computer, when I do I feel it, and it hurts. I’m then quick to return to my straight-upright position. I also find fewer issues in other areas of my life, such as when I lie down to sleep.

I also find that even if I have to lean on my desk a bit, since I’m still upright, the majority of  my back does stay straight.

3) My stamina has increased.

One of my parents’ favorite things to ask me is whether or not I’m exercising. At their most recent inquiry last weekend, I was able to tell them that not only do I bike two miles each way to work, and live in a fourth floor walkup, but I also stand eight hours a day! That quieted them pretty quickly.

It really is some exercise! I have found that, while it took a bit of getting used to, after pushing myself (a little) the first few days I was easily able to stand for five hours straight, and the more I did it, the better I felt. Not to mention my thighs are getting a pretty great workout. Not that this takes the place of exercising or anything, but I certainly feel more in shape.

SIDE NOTE: When I feel I need to rest, just resting one leg at a time helps a lot. It helps to take off some weight I would otherwise be supporting. I typically do this by resting a leg on something like an armchair or filing cabinet. Haven’t gotten any weird comments about this yet.

4) My Productivity Has Increased Ten-Fold.

I now find I have more energy and power to power through tasks that had previously seemed too daunting to start. I am also accomplishing these things much quicker. No joke, I actually have felt a tad bit bored a few times this week- which is great!

I attribute this newfound productivity to better breathing and power poses, which I will discuss more in future postings.

I have been so much more productive lately, that this blog post was actually started, and finished at work. Don’t worry- it happened on my lunch break- but I still haven’t felt the energy to get writing in months.

NOW, it’s not all rainbows and roses, there have been a few obstacles I have encountered along the way, these have included the following:

1) Gel Insoles were a required purchase.

I found that after hours of standing the soles of my shoes started to feel hard, really hard. I hadn’t gotten to the point of hurting joints, but my heels sure experienced some pain. I went to CVS and bought some gel insoles (with an arch) and that made a HUGE difference.

Some of my co-workers also have been standing on special gel mats to help ease the stress of standing, I’ll have to try one of those soon.

2) Sometimes I have a bit too much energy.

My co-workers have had to bear witness to me dancing around the room, and pacing a bit, because with all my extra energy, and time, I am finding it hard to stand still. Have not decided whether or not this is something that needs to be corrected, but my co-workers seem to find it entertaining.

3) Once you get down, its harder to get back up.

My first day on the standing desk, I think I was just motivated by pure adrenaline. My second and third I was able to push it, but I noticed that the second I sat down, it got much harder to convince myself to stand.

This gets particularly hard after lunch, since I work 5 hours before lunch and 3 after. I also work from 11-8 and take a 4 pm lunch, so that late afternoon slump coincides with my first sitting break of the day. Once I sit down for lunch, I suddenly realize I am tired, and gathering the energy to stand the rest of the day gets much, MUCH harder.

This is particularly difficult because —

4) Normal Chairs Don’t Work.

When I do want to sit, I have to find an object tall enough to sit on, since my chair just doesn’t cut it. I have found my filing cabinet seems to be just the right height. Some of my co-workers have gone out to buy stools or special chairs, but I am trying to avoid that since if I have a usable chair sitting right there, it is harder to push myself.

My filing cabinet, on the other hand, can slide neatly into it’s hiding place under my desk.

There you have it, my lengthy recap of my first week with a standing desk. While my desk and I are still in the infancy of our relationship, and there are certainly still some bumps in the road, I am excited to see what’s next to come.

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