Most of my habits tend to be pretty healthy. I drink a ton of water, I work out regularly, and I try to eat lots of veggies. I’ve never smoked, and I’m definitely not one to stay up late on a regular basis.
But there’s one thing I do a lot that’s pretty freakin’ dangerous. I — wait for it — sit. That’s right, clutch those pearls.
I always thought I negated the hours spent sitting while working because of the running and the biking and such, but according to research shared earlier this year, every hour spent sitting increases the chances of having a disability when I get older — and exercise has nothing to do with it.
Happily, even for those of us with jobs that require long hours at a desk, there are a number of non-sitting options available, and I’ve spent the last few months trying them out for Work It Week!
VARIDESK’s Pro Plus Standing Desk
If you want to stand while you work, the first thing you need is a workspace at the proper height. For some work-from-homers, the kitchen counter might feel right, but most of us are better off finding a way to adjust the height of our desk, and the VARIDESK Pro Plus Standing Desk ($350) has been amazing for this.
First off, it was super simple to set up — I pretty much just pulled it out of the box and set it on my desk. It’s weighty enough that it doesn’t require brackets or anything to stabilize it, but it’s not so heavy that you can’t move it on your own (or maaaybe with one other person to help you, just because it’s sort of awkward to get it in just the right spot by yourself).
The desk is wide enough to provide the workspace I need for a laptop, an additional monitor, a mouse, notebooks, and, of course, some beverages. (I told you I drink a lot of water!) It adjusts in height with total ease — I can use it while standing, and move it down in seconds to my sitting height. It’s sturdy and looks pretty sleek. This tool made my entry into a standing workplace a breeze.
VARIDESK’s The Mat
Now, the first thing I learned when I started standing more during the workday was that you want a comfortable surface on which to stand, which is why the same company that offers the standing desk also offers The Mat ($50). It’s cushy but with a high-density core so it can stand up to you standing on it for hours and hours. It’s thick but steady — you won’t feel at all off-balance by standing on it. One warning, though — my dog really loves sleeping on it, so you might find yourself fighting for space with any canine coworkers sharing your office.
(Now, while this definitely provides a level of comfort, I also suggest wearing a supportive pair of shoes when you’re spending that much time on your feet — I notice a big difference on days when I go barefoot or wear a flatter shoe.)
Dyna Disc Balance Cushion
When I’m standing while working, I find it difficult to just, you know, stand the whole time — I like to do a little something with my feet to change up the pressure, especially in my knees. Sometimes that involves placing one knee up on a stool, but often I’ll change things up by standing on a Dyna Disc Balance Cushion ($26.95 on Amazon).
These are great for balance in general (try doing lunges with your front foot landing on one!), and standing on one (even with one foot on solid ground) is an easy way to activate some of your smaller stabilizing muscles. It’s like getting a mini-workout just by standing in one spot! You can play around with the amount of air you put in for a different feel, but remember, it doesn’t need to feel like you’re in the midst of a balancing act — you just want to change things up a bit.
Wobble Stool by Uncaged Ergonomics
Although I started out with the intention of standing all! the! time!, I quickly learned that it’s not as easy as simply making a decision to do so. Standing is hard, y’all, especially if you are, for example, in the midst of training for a half Ironman and your legs are a little extra tired to begin with. And so, enter the Wobble Stool ($199.99), a stool that rocks and moves with your movement.
The Wobble Stool provides a little bit of the best of two worlds. You get to take a little weight off your feet, but you’re still forced to engage a number of muscles. I keep mine quite high, so it’s more like I’m leaning back onto it rather than truly sitting — this keeps my core engaged, which is especially important while sitting on an unstable surface. One note, though — the seat on this is not the most comfortable thing ever.
What I’ve Learned
As I mentioned above, wearing supportive shoes is a huge help, and it’s also important to note that, as you’re getting used to standing more throughout the day, it’s pretty tiring. The first few days of mostly standing, I wanted a nap right after work like you wouldn’t believe.
As time has gone on, though, I’ve become smarter about days when I do more standing and which days I choose to sit a bit based on extracurricular activities. Like, if I bike 60 miles on Saturday and run 10 on Sunday, chances are I’ll do a bit of sitting come Monday. But even though I still sit on occasion, adding more standing into my day has been great. I pay better attention to my posture, I’m sometimes even more efficient at work (because I can’t slouch down and veg), and I don’t know if the standing is the cause, necessarily, but I’ve dropped a few pounds. Overall, I’m a fan.
Have you ever tried using a standing desk? What did you like? What did you find challenging? —Kristen