We’ve probably all been told before that sitting down for eight hours a day is unhealthy. That’s true, but the negative impact of sitting all day doesn’t stop there. While various articles debate the different health benefits of standing vs. sitting the one benefit that standing at work accomplishes that’s never debated: Standing while working leads to increased productivity.
Even the way you configure your desk can have a major impact on your productivity, energy and creativity. A good setup can improve the quality of your output and even allow you to get more “good hours” out of the day, while a poor setup can lead to more and more “slump hours.”
So today we’ll be discussing how to maximize those “good hours” and minimize the “slump hours” by incorporating a mix of sitting and standing into your day.
Getting used to standing at your desk
Standing all day when you’re not used to it can be tough. Your feet, back, knees – any part of you might get sore until you’ve built up the muscles to make it the whole eight hours.
There’s a definite adjustment period as you transition from sitting to standing, so don’t expect to make a complete switch from one day to the next. From our team’s experience at Fit Company, if you’re looking to switch to full-time standing, it can take over a month before your body gets used to the changes.
A good place to start would be to do it in increments, slowly ramping up your standing time.
Begin by taking 15-30 minute “standing breaks” a couple times a day, then gradually increase those overtime. Eventually, standing will be the new norm and sitting down will be your once-in-a-while break.
How to get a standing desk or set up your desk for standing
When it comes to procuring your standing desk, there’s a couple of ways to go about it.
A lot of us who have either transitioned to standing desks or add standing into our routine have started out with the do-it-yourself route. This is a great place to start, since the investment is minimal and you get to try before you buy.
If you’re using a laptop, try stacking some books underneath it. If your office still has an old phone book or an encyclopedia kicking around, those work well (as do big hardcover books). Any stack of boxes or containers around the office will do the trick as well.
If you’re using a monitor and a separate keyboard, prop up your monitor and keyboard to their ideal heights (see below). This can be a better setup since your keyboard can be set independently from your monitor, but it may require a little more configuring. You also can save on some stacking supplies since the monitor will give you some extra height. Just be careful that your monitor is secure and doesn’t topple!
If DIY isn’t your thing or if you’ve already tried it out and want something more permanent, asking your department or HR is the next step to take.
If standing is already part of the status quo at your company, you should have no problem speaking to someone about acquiring a standing desk. However, if you’re the first person leading the charge, it might take a bit more coaxing.
One starting point is to talk it over with your colleagues over lunch. Have any of them been thinking about getting a standing desk but weren’t sure where to begin either? Making the request as a team is always the way to go and your team can hold you accountable to use it!
How to configure your standing desk
The process of configuring a standing desk is a lot like the process you would take at your regular sitting desk. You’re going to want to make sure your monitor, mouse and keyboard are all positions in the proper manner to avoid neck and wrist strain.
Make sure your monitor is at the right height. You don’t want to be craning your neck looking too far up or down or even to the sides. Ideally, your chin should be level and your eyes looking straight ahead.
Also be mindful of the position of your hands and your elbows. Your elbows should be level with your keyboard, or as close as possible, allowing your hands to be straight and not bend too much at the wrist.
Bonus activities for sitting and standing
Once you’ve got a good ratio of standing and sitting worked out, you can mix it up by either sitting on a Swiss ball or standing on a balance board. Some vendors make these specifically for offices and standing desk setups and should fit perfectly behind your desk.
Going 30 minutes with one of these each day adds even more work positions to your repertoire and makes your brain start firing in different ways. You’ll also get to burn a couple more calories in the process.
Make standing a team challenge!
Previously we’ve written about office wods as a fun way of getting your team energized and moving. Why not add standing challenges to your office activities?
Set aside 30 minutes for standing in the afternoon after people have had their lunches. Get your whole team to make the switch.
If you and some of your colleagues are no strangers to standing, why not make one afternoon a week standing-only? Of course, don’t force anyone to do it, but see if you can make it a challenge for the whole team.
Helpful reminders about standing
To get the most out of your shift to standing, be sure to keep a water bottle by your side along with some good snacks.
We’ve also spoken previously about the remarkable benefits of staying hydrated, and those still hold true. But be sure to keep some healthy snacks on hand too!
Making the transition from sitting to standing doesn’t happen in a single afternoon. It should be a slow process that takes dedication (and teamwork!), but once you make it there, you’ll be amazed at the difference – and maybe even wonder why you never made the switch earlier.
Yours in wellness,
The FC Squad