My First Month Standing
Since I finished college I haven’t had to sit down much. I went straight from college into a job at a strength and conditioning facility. I was running around the 5000 square foot facility accumulating several miles of movement everyday just from going from one end of the building to the other hundreds of times a day.
Fast forward a couple years and I’m a corporate fitness trainer living an active lifestyle. Once again, no sitting throughout the day, on my feet always moving around.
Then I opened a business. Sitting was now part of my job. I needed to be on a computer every day.
It was a world that I was no longer familiar with. It wrecked me, the back pain I had beat 3 years ago was starting to come back, my hips were nagging me, and I noticed my shoulders started to round forward. I needed a change.
It wasn’t until a friendly competition with my friend, Patrick that made me realize how much I sat everyday. I said to him, “ I think you sit much more than you realize.” He said the same to me, so there was only one way for us to settle it. Sitting competition.
For 3 days, we tracked how long we sat throughout the day. Driving, reading, eating, work on the computer, waiting in a lobby, sitting at a conference, it all counts and it all adds up.
When it was all said and done, Patrick came out on top with a few less hours sitting than I did.
I was bummed that I had lost the competition, but what the competition really did was bring awareness as to how much I was sitting each day. It showed me that I needed to make some changes.
The search for a standing desk started. There were absolutely no good options out there. Not one. It was either put a stack of cinder blocks on a desk or hope it worked or buy a $1000 standing desk with an electric motor. I got creative and used what I could. I stacked plyo boxes on the desk and that got me started. I used a step stool on the counter for work at home. After just a few weeks of replacing some sitting with standing I knew I needed to make a full time switch to a standing desk.
It has been 31 days since I switched to a full time standing desk.
The first day was great. I had a big project that I had just started so I had something to dive right into and didn’t even notice the transition. After a month of doing this, I never have any more back pain (I herniated a disc twice in 2012 and had often had flair ups from driving for long hours, sitting for a long time or from regular workouts). My hips feel great and are no longer super stiff when I got to demonstrate an exercise to a client.
I haven’t noticed much of a difference in terms of focus while working, but there are some people that say standing can really improve attention span. Check out www.standupkids.org for some studies that suggest standing may help improve focus in kids with ADHD. I would occasionally doze off while sitting and working. That obviously cannot happen anymore when standing. If anything I’m more aware of my attention span and my mind and body knows when it needs a break from the screen.
Standing throughout most of the day has made me more aware of my sitting position when I am forced to sit. The way I see it is there is optional sitting and mandatory sitting.
Mandatory sitting is when you are driving, out to eat at a restaurant, company meetings (unless you’re company is ahead of the curve and already holding standing or waking meetings). Optional sitting is watching TV, sitting down in a lobby or waiting area or sitting down when you and some friends are hanging out drinking some beers.
Now I limit my optional sitting, when I do sit I am much more aware of my posture. I make sure I don’t sit like a hunchback with my shoulders rounded forward and I try to keep moving into new positions while sitting.
So where to start?
Try cutting out some of your optional sitting each day. After the sitting competition, I decided to stand more while at home. Luckily I have an island counter than I can stand at while eating at or watch television. Over the course of a couple weeks I noticed I enjoyed standing there more than sitting on the couch. When I do feel like sitting now at home, I usually will sit on the floor since it is much easier to stay in a better position, but I’m also able to get some extra stretching and mobility work in.
Do you need to buy a standing desk today?
Probably not, there’s enough optional sitting you do throughout the day that you can minimize. Get up from your desk more, do some mobility work during long spans of sitting, and be aware of your posture. Once you get those in check, consider making the transition to a standing workstation. You body will thank you, and you will feel much better each and every day.