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Why I love my standing desk.

This coming spring will mark two years since I made the decision to give up my office chair, and spend my day at a standing desk.

I work for LifeSpeak as Director of IT, and as anyone who works in Information Technology (or pretty much any office job) knows, most of the day involves sitting in a chair, staring at a screen. And when I say sitting, I mean being almost motionless, aside from tapping on a keyboard or clicking on a mouse. I often found myself so focused on a particular problem, or a string of problems from a never-ending series of emails, that it wouldn’t even register I hadn’t moved for hours until it was time to go home.

Not that I didn’t make any attempts to counter this. I had to get up once in a while to warm up my coffee in the kitchen, walk up the stairs to use the bathroom, and I set aside most of my lunch hours to work out at the gym (the subject of a future blog post). But for the most part, I was stuck in my chair. And when I thought about it more, most of my waking hours were spent in a sitting position — I sat to eat breakfast, sat on the subway to and from work, and then sat at home to eat dinner and watch TV.

But that spring, two years ago, my backside decided to rebel. It happened around the time we were doing work for a campaign, featuring a LifeSpeak video called ‘Sitting is the New Smoking’ , where the speaker discussed the health problems that constant sitting can cause. I suddenly found myself not wanting to sit, and finding any possible reason to stand up, even if it was just walking across the room to wipe dust off the photocopier. At home, something as simple as sitting at the couch and watching TV with my kids was a painful experience.

From reading tech blogs I knew about standing desks, but in the past it seemed like a fad twenty-something Silicon Valley types were embracing. With my rear-end in full revolt, though, I took the plunge, and bought a $100 standing desk off Amazon — basically a glorified stool that sat on top of my existing workspace.

The first day was touch-and-go, to say the least. I found my legs almost buckling at certain points, and by the end of the day, I wasn’t sure if this was going to last more than a week. But over the next few months, my body started to adjust. I began to notice that once I started working my full attention was focused on the job at hand, and I stopped paying attention to the fact I was standing. In fact, I felt more focused and energized, and I also noticed that other parts of the day, particularly when I got home, I actually looked forward to sitting down, almost like a reward. Standing has just become like any routine at work, like checking email or getting coffee.

That’s not to say I’m always standing. Most meetings or phone calls I take sitting down, and I work at home once or twice a week, where I sit in a standard office chair. There are also times toward the end of an especially tough week, when my legs need a rest, and I just need to take a break from standing. In fact, if there is one thing I would have done differently, it would be getting a more adjustable desk from the start, so transition from standing to sitting wouldn’t be such a hassle. Still, it’s been a major improvement in my working life, and who knows — a couple years from know I might be moving on to a surfboard or treadmill desk.
Written by: Daryl Smith, Director of IT at LifeSpeak