Posted by: BigWin | April 19, 2011

Sitting at work is so 2001

Standing Desk Experiment

I am in week 3 of my standing desk experiment. Standing at work? For the whole day? Have you lost it Dobson????

Well, I haven’t lost it and I have thought about it off an on for the past year. Lifehacker.com has had occasional post about it over the past couple of years and the idea always intrigued me. Usually the posts are about how to set up a treadmill desk, but that is the advanced version of the standing desk. I simply wanted to get off my butt more than I do now.

Here is how my thinking went: I workout in the morning or after work for an hour and then go to my desk. I get up and walk to meetings 4-5 times a day and then when I get to the meeting I sit for 30-60 minutes followed by a brief walk back to my desk. I estimated I spent 6.5 hours out of my day sitting in meetings or at my desk. That is roughly 33 hours a week or 1700 hours a year. A LOT OF TIME ON MY BUTT!! If I setup a standing desk, I’ll at least be standing when I am not in meetings.

So how has it been going?

I have averaged 4 hours a day standing at my desk. This is pretty much what I expected. My hips and lower back were a little sore after the first few days, but I have adjusted and just around when I need a break, I usually have a meeting or have to go find someone to ask a question.

Observations:

  • I got a second monitor since I lost the ability to use my laptop as a second monitor (wouldn’t fit on the raised portion of my desk) and this has worked out great!
  • I tend to focus my time for 15-20 min on a task and then take a quick pause to reposition or stretch. This has allowed me to maintain or even increase my perceived productivity. I feel like I am getting more done and am more attentive to my task at hand.
  • Everyone at work seems to think I have a back problem. (Lots of questions about this anytime someone stops by)
  • Long phone calls (> 30) min are not the most enjoyable thing.
  • I can do calf raises all day and more stretches in-between which gives me the sense of feeling like I am not wasting away in my chair. I really like this part.

I ran across a NY Times article today which was pretty interesting. Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

Highlights:

  • On average, the subjects who gained weight sat two hours more per day than those who hadn’t.
  • Over a lifetime, the unhealthful effects of sitting add up. Alpa Patel, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, tracked the health of 123,000 Americans between 1992 and 2006. The men in the study who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher. Patel estimates that on average, people who sit too much shave a few years off of their lives.
  • This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked.

I am not planning on changing this anytime soon so I’ll post another update in a few weeks. Until then, happy standing. (For those of you with a keen eye, the picture behind my monitors is Nevada Falls with Liberty Cap on the left in Yosemite. Taken on the infamous JMT hike of 2008.)


Responses

  1. Soooo??? You post three weeks in, and then nothing? How is it? I know that I lost a ton of weight when I quit my day job for a standing bartending gig back in the day. But of course it was a round bar, and I estimate I walked around in circles for MILES per shift. So maybe it was that.

    • So, I moved back to sitting a few days ago. Just shy of 2 months standing. I didn’t notice any weight loss, but I did feel better. What made me give it up was a pain in my left hip. I’m not sure if it’s from running or standing and since my training schedule just started for running, I need to change something to see if this pain will go away.

      I’m going to give it two weeks of sitting and see if the pain goes away. If it does, I may need to just reintroduce standing at a slower pace. Maybe a month standing and a month sitting or something like that.


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