Benefits of Standing while Working

For the past few years, I've toyed with the idea of creating a standing desk for myself - and even made a make-shift one a few times - but it wasn't something I stuck with until the end of last summer. Franky finally gave in to my nagging and custom made me a gorgeous stand-up desk! This was finally the thing that made this practice stick. Over the past several years, I've been working at a computer 8+ hours a day, and still do now. As much as I've wanted to escape the reality at times and just be out in nature gardening all day, this is my reality and I really do love my work. I am able to create an amazing balance for myself between my indoor computer working time and going for a foraging or weeding the garden mission outdoors. On warmer sunny days, I bring my computer outside on our deck and work from there. This setup looks like this:

Because I'm not able to bring my standing desk outside any time I am working out in the sun, I choose the yoga ball as it feels like the healthiest form of sitting I could do out here. A light healthy bounce keeps the blood and lymph flowing and I feel better using it versus any chair that I've tried. You could say my outdoor working time is a compromise because I have to sit, but I get to be in the sunshine!

Back to the standing desk topic... Before diving into the benefits of standing vs scary things that happen from sitting - I want to talk about my experience.

During the years of sitting at a computer, I always knew in the back of my mind - this can't be that good for the body. No matter how hard I tried I never seemed to be able to get a really great chair posture going. Either my shoulders were too far forward, my elbows splayed out too much, my neck cocked forward or back, my chest caved in slightly (or not slightly), etc, etc. You get the idea. I'd remind myself constantly and even write notes on the wall or window that were visible as I was working, but it just never felt that great to sit in such a way.

If you think about the amount people are sitting down these days (people who work indoors, at a computer or phone especially) - it's nearly the entire day. From sitting down to have meals, then sitting in a car to go to work or wherever, sitting on the potty, sitting down to have coffee with a friend, sitting down at a desk all day to work, sitting down to watch a movie or tv at night, it's basically the entire day except for the time spent in between the sitting places.

It's no wonder people need to get out and exercise or stretch or do yoga or go do a workout, etc! Perfectly understandable. Pretty much most of our muscles are not engaged while sitting, unless you are really active about it, so we need to spend time exercising to help us feel like we're making up for it.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for exercising! I have been enjoying a gentle morning yoga routine lately, and usually take a walk around our property in the afternoons for a break. The rest of my exercise comes from carrying around an almost 30lb toddler, who I pick up probably 40 times a day.

During the entire first week after I had my new custom built standing desk, I had sore muscles every day. That was a super awakening experience. So I had all these muscles I hadn't been using much at all because of the amount of time I spent sitting each day while working. The backs of my legs, and almost my entire back was sore. It only lasted a week which was helpful as I was trying not to cave in to the sore muscles and want to sit again! Looking back on it, it might be a good plan to try 3-4 hours per day at a time and slowly increase over 2 weeks to avoid the sore body.

The final kick in the pants to getting a standing desk going for myself - was my son (17 months at the time) figured out how to climb up on my lap with no help whatsoever from me. He just pulled and climbed his way up there. Since I am a work from home momma full time, this became rather difficult to get work done! I love having him on my lap while I work for little stints here and there. But then the writing in my notebook and slamming down on the computer began, you get the picture... Having momma stand while she works has been super helpful in creating a separation of when it's work time for me versus I will come sit on the floor with him when it's playtime.

My standing desk setup:

(above photo credit © Patryce Bak)

Franky crafted the above desk, and he built it according to my height and the height my arms should be resting on a table. If you are able to get your own desk made by someone, I highly recommend doing it. My make-shift standing desks were always too much on the make-shift side and it didn't inspire me to stick with it - it was too wobbly, unattractive, or whatever the reason was.

I read somewhere recently that a 14 year study was done on men and women who sit down to work 8 hours per day versus men and women who spend their day standing. When the study was done.... A frightening 54% more chance of heart attack was seen in the men and women who sat all day. Yikes!! (Also, if anyone can help me re-find the link to this study, please post below! I only wrote down the statistics and not the website it came from.)

A huge difference I've seen in myself personally is the amount of energy I have. I find it rather easy to get through a day physically and usually mentally as well, even when I haven't gotten as much sleep as I would like. I would imagine this might be the case for anyone who tries this! It makes more sense the way our bodies our built to spent more of our time standing and walking rather than sitting.

*FUN FACT* Standing while you work burns a third more calories than sitting does.

As you can imagine, the benefits of standing are endless. I do my best to keep my body moving the entire day. Sometimes I have a wider stance and can do a little hip rocking. A lot of times I stand on one leg and keep the other one resting up on the 2nd tier level I have on my desk as you can see above. Sometimes I will keep a gentle bent leg bounce going. Music is always fun as well as it makes it so much more fun and easy to keep the body moving while you stand!

One thing to keep in mind - make sure you don't actually stand too much and wear your body out. Make sure you build up the strength and don't be hard on yourself if it's time to sit for a while. I have a stool that is the perfect height that I will use every now and then - for one if I'm wearing Wilder for a nap. He weighs 27-28 lbs now and I'm perfectly happy admitting that I can't stand and wear him for an entire 2 hour nap (if I'm wearing him on the front in the Ergo, on the back - whole other story and I can stand the whole time!). He mostly lays down for naps for a while now, and I only wear him on those days where he needs momma a bit more than other days.

It's important to stand more than you sit, but don't overwork yourself trying to only stand all day long - especially if you're like me and you work more than 8 hours in a day! I stop and start throughout the day  so my work day takes me well beyond the "5pm" end time.

There are loads of websites out there on how to build your own standing desk and where to buy the best ones if that's what you prefer. It's becoming more and more popular and you will find it very easy to get your own setup going if you are inspired to do so!

I want to know if any of you are already standing while you work? What does your setup look like? How do you feel? Post a comment below and link to a pic of your setup too if you want!