Let me guess, you’re sitting down while reading this.
I presume many of you have had the following experience. Life is cruising along reasonably well and suddenly out the blue you feel a twinge in your lower back while opening the double hung window, reaching for that piece of luggage at the airport or picking up your child. You have the unsettling feeling that the pain will only get worse over the next 24 hours.
The next morning finds you crawling out of bed or clinging to the wall like a drunken sailor on your way to the bathroom. One time the pain got so bad I burst out laughing (with a grimace) as it seemed unfathomable that my back could hurt so much. I’m actually lucky not to have a chronically bad back but I have made one change in my life that I think has made a measurable difference in my posture, back health and workflow: A stand up desk.
Think about it. We’re animals. Most animals run around, sleep, eat and occasionally procreate. Very rarely do they do one thing for eight hours at a time (especially procreate). We’ve broken the pattern by sitting on our butt for hours while we work. Ah yes, I know, this is offset by your regular exercise so it shouldn’t be a problem. Wrong. I recently stumbled across an article in the New York Times by Gretchen Reynolds that dispelled this myth. Exercise is great but it doesn’t offset the endless hours settled on our posteriors.
Turns out, we were never meant to sit for such long periods of time and the health consequences of doing so are insidious from increased rates of heart disease to diabetes. For the more vain of us, you simply burn more calories while standing. Now I have your attention. The beauty of some stand up desks is that they are adjustable so that you can vary the height from sitting, standing or somewhere in between. Since I switched to using an adjustable stand up desk, I sense I’m more productive and alert. You oddly feel like you’re standing at a ship’s helm guiding your life forward when using a stand up desk.
Stand up desks are becoming all the rage. They are the new single speed bike. Google offers them as part of their “Wellness Program” and roughly 10 percent of Facebook employees use them. Use one and you’ll be in the same club as Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway, Leonardo Da Vinci, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.
Since I started using a stand up desk, I’ve never looked back.