After years of working as a freelance writer, I was starting to worry that I hated my job. I’d spot the mail carrier walking by and fantasize about applying to the post office. My whole body was screaming “get me out of here!” and I didn’t know why.
Then I stumbled across some recent research showing that sitting down on the job puts us at risk for all kinds of negative outcomes (like death, for example — see Part 2 for details).
Turns out I didn’t hate my work, I just hated sitting at my desk. Time to experiment. I extended the legs of my Ikea Galant desk to maximum height, propped my computer, keyboard and mouse on piles of books and launched my own study of standing on the job.
Results were instant and remarkable. Right away, I felt light and loose, mobile and engaged, instead of compressed, rigid and disembodied. I noticed that I was constantly in subtle motion, swaying from side to side, twisting, shifting my weight from one leg to the other, bending and straightening my knees. Standing, I had become a body in motion, whereas sitting I am a force resistant to motion.
Mine is not an original observation. Newton accounted for it in his first law of motion: an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. Standing places me firmly in motion, enlivening my whole working day.
As a bonus, within a week and a half of switching from sitting to standing, I found that my legs had grown noticeably stronger. No exercise I’ve ever done has strengthened me so quickly – and without any special equipment or dedicated exercise time.
Sitting at my desk, I’m a talking head floating in space. Standing, I’m firmly rooted, engaged, ready for action. Apologies for sounding evangelical, but I’ve never made a change with such immediate and positive results.
In Part 2, I’ll review the research on the health risks of sitting and suggest some ways you can set up your own standing desk.