Get up, Stand up.

This article, we’re going to take a detour from our usual topics and review a piece of office equipment we recently invested in.

I love a fitness fad; I eat tofu, do yoga and I’m always on the lookout for new health and fitness information. So I’ve been reading, with increasing interest, concerns around the news that “sitting is the new smoking”.

I didn’t really need to be told that long periods of sitting aren’t good for you. It’s tiring, promoting sluggish circulation and metabolism. Unless you’ve paid acute attention to ergonomics around desk levels, chair heights and wrist alignment, it’s bad for your posture and leaves room for a range of back, neck, shoulder and wrist problems.

From personal experience, the wrist issues are a very real thing. I type a lot and there are days my shoulders and wrists end up really feeling it. My nightly exercise routine is not enough to combat the effects of hours and hours of sitting.

But long periods of standing aren’t fantastic for you either. I have a friend who worked as a card dealer at the casino. They have enforced rest periods because they are on their feet for the duration of their shifts. It can lead to muscle fatigue, varicose veins and issues with hyperextended knee joints due to incorrect posture.

It’s impractical for most companies to remodel all of their existing workstations and convert them to standing desks; not everyone is keen on standing all day! So what options are there for an office worker who, like me, feels the need to find a happy medium?

VarideskThe answer has been a product called Varidesk, which is an adjustable platform that you position on top of your regular desk. You then put your monitor, keyboard and mouse on the platform, moving it up or down to suit the height you wish to work at. So regardless of your height, you can stand or sit at your conventional desk, the choice is yours.

I’ve been using my new Varidesk Pro platform for two weeks and here are my findings:

  • I’m really thankful I’m able to adjust the platform down when I need a break from standing. You need to take breaks. I’ve established a roughly two hour cycle and this seems to work well for me.
  • I’ve gotten a few strange looks from colleagues particularly as during my standing cycles I kick my shoes off and bob around on a piece of yoga mat. It’s a bit of an oddity and not everyone is going to get it.
  • While I’m standing, I’m moving. It’s just natural to move from one foot to the other, bend the knees, adjust the position of the feet, swing the legs back and forward etc. This is attributing big time to my ratio of incidental movement vs inactivity. The first couple of days I went home feeling like I’d already done a workout!
  • Increasing incidental movement has been shown to burn considerable calories, so I’ve been able to safely increase my daily chocolate intake.
  • When I’m standing, my wrists tend to be more comfortably aligned with the keyboard and I’m not resting my arms on the desk. I have experienced a noticeable reduction in wrist pain. This has been a huge relief to me as the risk of getting RSI or full blown carpal tunnel syndrome is very real for office workers and something I worry about.
  • I have more energy at the end of the day. After two weeks I can safely say that periods of standing during the day have a marked effect on my energy levels and I feel as clear headed and creative at 3pm as I do when I start the day.

Overall, it’s been a very positive experience for me. I’d recommend Varidesk to anyone with a conventional desk looking for a way to avoid “sitting disease”.

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