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Think on Your Feet: 4 Reasons to Stand While You Work

“Your chair is your enemy.”

Humans were not meant to sit all day in a chair. You might consider yourself healthy, however sitting all day puts you at “increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a variety of cancers.” If you’re a sitting in a cubicle or in a home office all day, I highly recommend ditching your chair for a standing position. A key component of simple living means paying attention to your physical health. Standing while working is one way to take care of your body.

Long-time readers know that I have trouble sitting still. Standing while I work is a perfect solution for my need to constantly be moving. I’m able to shift my weight from foot to foot, focus on my posture and take care of my physical health.

There are a number of reasons to stand while you work:

1. Improve your health and burn energy.

Standing while working is better for your health and heart. Standing requires tending your leg muscles, shifting from leg to leg and engaging the muscles in your back. All of this burns energy. For instance, I’ve experienced fewer back pains and have dropped a few pounds.

2. Increase productivity.

I’ve been standing while working for the last few months and I am much more productive. It’s easier for me to concentrate and I don’t feel lethargic. Now that I’m standing while I work, I’m less likely to feel sleepy after I eat lunch.

3. Enhance your posture.

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a tendency to hunch your shoulders while sitting at your desk. Standing while working will improve your posture tremendously. Once you start standing while working you’ll still notice a tendency to hunch your shoulders. However, bad posture when standing feels uncomfortable so you’ll notice the behavior more quickly and be more likely to correct it.

4. A simple and low cost solution.

You don’t have to run out and buy a bunch of stuff for your standing office. Use what you have at home and be creative. For example, my new standing office is low-cost and simple. I set-up a small work station on the kitchen counter and use my cat carrier as a lap-top stand. Without some kind of stand, I would be leaning over to type and that would be bad for my back.

So whatever solution you chose, don’t ignore the principles of good ergonomics. Be creative and have fun.

Closing thoughts…

I’m thrilled with my new office and I can’t imagine sitting in an office chair again. I hope you’ll give this idea a try.

Micro-actions:

  • Take baby steps. Start standing a little bit every day and let your body get used to the new routine. You’ll be up to 8 hours in no time. And yes, you’re legs will be sore. But don’t fret, your muscles will adapt to the new routine quickly.
  • Talk to your co-workers and boss about trying this new approach.
  • Restructure your workstation so you can stand more.

Note: image from Stand while you work

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Matt April 30, 2010, 7:16 am

    How’s this compare with other chair alternatives (like sitting on a stability ball)?

    Also, any ideas on how this affects people with knee problems?

    • Tammy April 30, 2010, 7:41 am

      @Matt – good questions. I’ve heard stability balls are really awesome to sit on. I haven’t read anything about standing and knee issues. I have knee problems, but haven’t noticed any pain in my knees. If anything, I feel better. When I sit in a chair all day my knees get really stiff.

  • Mohamed Shedou April 30, 2010, 7:35 am

    i think it will be lovely to introduce some reading while walking into my routine! as summer is (almost) here, i’ll think of your post and go to the park and read while walking. I did that about a month ago and it was fun, but i forgot all about the experience afterwards til i read this post! standing while working wont be doable for everyone.

  • Michelle Cross April 30, 2010, 8:55 am

    As a graphic designer, I have a hard time working while standing up. I think if you are doing activities like typing or reading things online it may be easier, but trying to work with a mouse doing delicate design work seems to mess me up when I try to do it standing. Not sure why, maybe because when seated my arm pivots on the edge of the desk while I move my mouse, giving me both more stability and a rest, versus standing where my arm is at a different angle. Possibly this could be fixed with a table that can be micro-adjusted as needed, but those are quite expensive.
    I do want to try the balance ball idea though! I have heard excellent things about it, but I’ve never experienced it firsthand.
    Thank you Tammy for posting on this topic! Any suggestions for alternatives to the standard business-as-usual method of working are always appreciated!

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:55 am

      @Michelle – Maybe you can try a balancing ball? See Valentina’s comment for more info. 🙂

    • Chloe Adeline May 2, 2010, 10:35 am

      Hmmm. I’d worry about this too. Mouse and graphics pad work might not be the most stable standing…but the whole idea of standing to work is appealing…and frightening. I’m going to have to try it!

  • Bill @ The New Pursuit April 30, 2010, 9:05 am

    Whoa, is that woman on some sort of treadmill while at her desk?

    While I don’t have a standing set-up at work, my company is sponsoring a new competition for employees challenging all 3,000+ of us to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. SO MANY people are outside walking, it’s amazing. What’s even better is that everyone — including me — just feels happier when you’re outside getting that blood pumping and feeling alive. Great for the body, great for the mind, great for morale! And getting a little fix of Nature while you’re at it isn’t bad either.

    Be well!

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:57 am

      @Bill – that is totally rockin’! What a great idea. I’m happy that you’re company is encouraging folks to get out the door and exercise. It’s so good for the body and mind.

      And yes she is on a treadmill walking. See this article for more on that topic.

  • Lisa April 30, 2010, 9:18 am

    Thanks Tammy! I’ve been “working” on standing more often while working at home, writing, reading, and doing hobbies. Before my old computer died, I had it elevated atop a tall chest of drawers. I turned the top drawer upside down then slid it out just enough to support my keyboard and mouse. (It was in a back room where how it looked wasn’t an issue.) I liked your idea about sitting the cat carrier atop the table for added height. Another good solution for a more portable work station is to use an old fashioned ironing board. Their heights are usually adjustable, and they’re easy to transfer from one space to another. Fold them and stick them behind a door when not in use.

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:58 am

      Thanks for sharing Lisa! 🙂 Have a beautiful day.

  • Eric Normand April 30, 2010, 12:09 pm

    I do this a lot! I put my laptop on my kitchen counter and work from there.

    It does help the posture. No slouching.

    Keeps my blood flowing, because I pace a lot more.

    It’s easier to think when you can move.

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:41 am

      @Eric – I couldn’t agree more. I feel so much more in tune with my body. Standing while working rocks! 🙂

      Thanks for reading the blog. 🙂

      Ohhh and I love your website name “renegade yogi.” Very cool!

  • Kristin Brown April 30, 2010, 3:25 pm

    What a timely post, Tammy! I just set up my standing work station yesterday. Although I had my desk elevated in my cube at work, I’ve been working from home since November and have been sitting 40 hours a week. Not fun! I had a standing desk specially made (it’s a counter top that normally would go in a kitchen set atop a metal frame cut for my height). You can check out pics on my Facebook page if you’d like. I am lovin’ it and feeling so much better! And I have a tall chair so I can take a break and sit as needed. 🙂

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:51 am

      @Kristin – sweet! I’ll check out the photos. I’m glad your new set-up is working well for ya. 😉

  • 2whls3spds May 1, 2010, 6:30 am

    My company does not “officially” support exercise, but they do let us be individuals. I am a person that cannot be cooped up inside. They realized this, gave me a laptop and sent me back into the field to project manage from the trenches. It has proven beneficial for me and for them.

    Now if we could just do something about those 30k miles behind the wheel every year…

    Aaron

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:38 am

      @Aaron – Even though your company doesn’t “officially” support exercise, it’s pretty cool that they let you work in the trenches. 30K is a lot of miles! Is there anyway you can cut back on the drive time? Would they let you work at home more? 🙂

  • Valentina May 2, 2010, 6:18 am

    Hi Tammy, great post. I am also a personal chair hater, but at work there was no real option to change the desk. So what I did was to change the chair. I am now sitting, well, bouncing, on a big air-filled ball. Those they use in some yoga classes. My boss looked twice, but didn’t say anything which by my colleagues was interpreted as acceptance. So the ball is now spreading through the office. I feel much better, because I am constantly balancing myself, bouncing when getting tired, or just lying over my ball when I need a short rest.
    So, there are alternatives even for office life 😉

    • Tammy May 2, 2010, 6:34 am

      @Valentina – that is awesome! I LOVE that you’re co-workers are following you’re lead. 🙂 I volunteer at a Yoga studio and have seen a few of those big air-filled balls. I might invest in one. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Carol Brenneisen May 18, 2010, 7:53 pm

    Tammy, have you posted pics of your standing workstation somewhere? I would love to see! Less than a week before you posted this, I was sitting on my couch not-writing with a burning desire to stand and….write. I moved some shelves that are about the right height, dusted them, plunked down my computer, and promptly started walking away to do other stuff! I found that standing, which I had been longing to do for months both at work and at home, made it so much easier for my wandering mind to propel my wandering self all over the house to declutter, do dishes, etc.

    But, I haven’t given up. I suspect that a wall-mounted monitor at eye height would be important for this to work for me. Do you have an external monitor?

    • Tammy May 20, 2010, 6:20 am

      @Carol – I don’t have an external monitor. I work on an Apple MacBook and love it. I haven’t take any photos of my work station yet, but I will soon.

  • Erika August 23, 2010, 7:07 am

    Thank you for this article! When I fist started my new job, all the sitting was really getting overwhelming. It was depressing, horrible, and made my legs and butt sore to the point where even a good long walk after work would not resolve the pain and discomfort. It drove me to tears. About a month of pain into the job, the company bought me a standing desk and it has been wonderful!

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