Monday, December 19, 2016

Standing up for standing up

Seven years ago I managed to score a standing desk at work. It wasn't easy – I’d expressed interest in having one quite a while earlier, but office politics intruded. In the end I inherited one from a colleague who was leaving. Why would I want to stand all day anyway?

In recent years there has been a lot of research indicating that sedentary behaviour (i.e. sitting) is bad for health. It seems that even if you get plenty of exercise outside of working hours, sitting all day increases the risk of early death. Apparently prolonged time sitting can adversely affect things like triglycerides, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight. So it seemed like a bit of a no-brainer to me.

There’s plenty of evidence out there that we should stand more and sit less (Google it if you don’t believe me) and the topic has also been featured in the mainstream press, e.g. the New York, the Huffington Post and Forbes. Some more intrepid souls than me have even rigged up treadmills under their standing desks, to combine standing with constant exercise. I took to my standing desk like the proverbial duck to water, though I know some people find them a bit weird at first.

Anyway, the thing about getting a standing desk – when most of your colleagues still sit all day – is that you need to maintain a cheery sense of humour as there are a few FAQs. For example:

– Don’t you get tired, standing all day? No. Realllly? No.
– Don’t your legs/feet ache? No. I keep several pairs of shoes at the office and alternate between them. I think this helps. Or you could get a rubber mat.
– Why would you want to stand all day? Rather than sharing my family’s horrible cardiovascular history with random strangers, I opt for sharing the research. I do work with science nerds, after all! I try to keep up to date with research on the topic so I can forward references if asked.
– Haven't you heard that standing gives you varicose veins? Well, yeah. But given a choice between varicose veins and heart disease I'd choose the veins any day. (BTW, I don't have varicose veins. It has been seven years so you'd think they would have shown up by now.)

Since getting a standing desk my blood sugar has returned to normal. Woo hooooo! On the fence about standing desks? I recommend giving one a go. They’re great.

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