standing desks vs. movement

Standing Desks vs. Sitting vs. Movement

This article updated as of February 21, 2020 to reflect new standing desk offerings – not just the Vari-Desk mentioned in this article. See below.

The standing desk craze has been going on for several years now. Many popular bloggers (most recently, Michael Hyatt {whom I have great respect for}), have gotten on the standing desk bandwagon and then urging their followers to get/make one. There’s an Infographic about how ‘Sitting Kills’, that has been shared quite a bit.

Being and staying healthy is important to me, so I’ve read a lot of these articles. I’ve also read an established expert blogger and author, Katy Bowman, M.S. She is a biomechanist (Biomechanists use the principles of physical mechanics combined with those of biology to understand how people move, how they can move more effectively, why they sometimes get injured and how to reduce the incidence of injury.)

Every one of us needs to make this journey to health on an individual basis. We all need to do our own due diligence to get or maintain our health. For me, I read, listen and then do my own research and decide what my path will be. I hope this 2-part series will get you to think about doing your own research and finding your path to health.

Regular Movement More Beneficial Than Exercise?

Katy has written a number of books on health and body alignment – many with references to standing vs. sitting. If I were to sum up what I’ve read from her so far (and I consider myself a beginner when it comes to her writings), it would be that our total daily movement is more important than our daily exercise. Think about how most of us typically view health – we either go to the gym, work hard for 30-60 minutes or take a 30-minute run several times a week and then proudly post our activity on-line via some app. Then we go to our jobs and sit for 8-10 hours. Then we get in our cars, drive home and probably sit most of the evening. How is this a truly healthy lifestyle?

Yes, exercise is great, it makes us feel good, it tones our body and all of that. But are we complacent in thinking that the small percentage of time we spend exercising  per day or week is all we need? Here’s an article from Katy Bowman about  exercising less and moving more. I would also recommend any/all of her books. I have her latest, Move Your DNA, and like to refer to that for tips and insights on movement.

Exercising (I did aerobics 3-4 times a week for about 15 years), was a big part of my life. I lived close enough to home that I could get 3 aerobic workouts a week in and I did feel good after I’d done it. The office I worked in (in the St. Paul, MN area),  was huge and I had to do quite a bit of walking from building to building, so  in my 6 years there, I think I had quite a bit of movement throughout my day. Then I moved back to OKC to a small office, with little walking during my day. Luckily, there was a mall next to my office building, and I spent many a lunch hour over there!

Eventually, my corporate office was moved to my home, and my ‘commute’ was measured in feet, not miles! I still kept up with my aerobics during much of this time, but I had to find ways to increase my activity and movement in other ways. I decided several years ago to stop my aerobic program and switch to other forms of exercise. I switched to walking and some biking. But walking eventually won out because I’ve had a series of Wheaten Terriers who, of course, wanted me to take them out for a walk, not leave them home while I went biking! Here’s a collage of my dogs. Right now, Sophie 2.0 is my only Wheaten (and she’s a handful)!

Top left- Sophie 2.0, Sophie & me Hilton

Move Throughout Your Day Rather than Just One Bout of Activity

I think standing desks are a great – as long as you look at it as one part of a number of things you can and should be doing throughout your day. If you switch from sitting to standing, are you really going to be more healthy? Think about factory workers and others who are on their feet all day. They have their problems too. After reading Katy’s book (see excerpt below–love her sense of humor!), it makes sense to me that moving for small amounts of time throughout my day is helpful, healthy and beneficial. Besides giving my eyes a break from the screen, I’m getting incremental activity in if I walk down the stairs, walk around the yard or even take a brief walk around the block. Taking several 5 minute breaks throughout each day adds up.

katybowmanexcerpt

My Journey To A Standing Desk

In next week’s article, I’ll share with you my journey to a standing desk. I ended up with the Vari-Desk Pro, recommended to me by my friend, Kristen Wright, over at iThemes. She did the research and I was able to look it over before making my decision.  It’s a great solution for me because it can be raised and lowered in just a few seconds, so I’m not locked into continual sitting or standing!

The path to good health and staying well is not a 30-minute a day activity. It’s a continual process and is made up of our daily choices in what we eat and do to and for our bodies. It’s very personal for each of us and we all have our successes and challenges. What incremental or major changes have you found that help you? I’d love to get your thoughts on this subject.

Five Years Later With My Vari-Desk (2015-2020)

It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since writing this article. In that time, many more standing desks have been built – electric, pneumatic and even crank! I think Vari-Desk was one of the first to come out with a sit-on-your-desk-unit, now there are many more.

I’ve been looking at the possibility of getting a standing desk and selling my Vari-Desk. The unit sitting on top of my desk, although it has room for papers and things, does take up a lot of real estate and I’m getting tired of that. However, the desk I have has three drawers built into it and none of the standing desk units have drawers at all. I really like having my drawer space!

There are days that’ll go by and I don’t raise my Vari-Desk – instead, I’ll get up and walk around. As with most things, after a while, it gets tiresome to raise it up and down. I’ve always had 2 monitors, but have recently added a larger monitor, which makes it heavier to lift. Then a year or so ago, I added monitor arms to hold the monitors. This has given me more space on the second tier since I don’t have the monitor bases there anymore.

Sometimes, I’ll get my laptop and go to the kitchen and put it on the countertop. I’ve found I can lean against the countertop and it’s more comfortable than trying to lean against my desk. This is because the Vari-Desk sits back a bit from the edge of the desk and I really can’t lean against it. (See photos below.)

two monitors on a vari-desk

I’m still a big believer in getting movement in several times during the day, especially for those of us with sedentary jobs. Quite a bit has been written in the last five years that indicate that standing all or most of the day isn’t really that much better than sitting most of the day. What’s important is getting up regularly and moving around!

New Standing Desk Choices in 2020

CNET has an article for the 5 best standing desk converters – for people who want to try out a standing desk and keep their current desk.

I also checked out Office Depot as they have quite a few standing desks from which to choose and you can go into the store and check out some of the models. All their standing desks had reviews by them, but I couldn’t get to any of them.

If you want to look at a standing desk desk (not a converter), you can try the Consumers Advocate website where they highlight the pros and cons of 10 standing desks. They give quite a bit of detail on size, weight and warranty. They looked “at 28 desks from 19 different companies, we picked six that were the best in the following six categories: best overall, manual, electric, tight budget, ergonomic, and desk converter.” (This company does work with partners, so keep that in mind while looking through their picks.)

part of article on standing desks

As always, read quite a few reviews of any product you’re considering buying.

Summary

There’s been an explosion of standing desks the last five years – everything from those made from a sturdy cardboard to some big dollar electric standing desks. If you’re thinking of getting one, start with something simple and inexpensive and try it out for a while and see if you’ll really utilize it.

It’s about more than not sitting all day, it’s about incorporating movement into your day. So don’t plan on sitting OR standing, do some of each and sprinkle in some stretches, walks and breaks in your day.

4 thoughts on “Standing Desks vs. Sitting vs. Movement”

  1. thank you for writing this article. being without a car has helped me; i now regularly walk to places that i used to drive to all the time.

  2. ,I stand to sew. About 8 hours a day. I have done it for 30 years. It is comfortable, I have good posture, and my back no longer gets sore. Also, faster, no getting up and down from a chair just keep moving! More productive.

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