Our aim at scoop is to empower you, our readers, to be better-dressed, healthier, and happier, so it wasn’t long before the idea of Standing Desks caught our attention. If you claim a spot in front of a computer screen to earn your living (like most of us), then keep reading.
Thanks to your desk job, you probably spend a good bit of time on the Internet, and may have already seen the hype about Standing Desks. When The New York Times, Wired Magazine, and the Smithsonian all publish pieces about the undesirable effects of sitting all day, or how standing more and sitting less could potentially add years to your life, you pay attention.
“It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home, you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you – Olivia Judson, evolutionary biologist, from her article in the New York Times
Because going from sitting at your desk like a normal American person to standing all day at the office is still a) totally countercultural and b) totally overwhelming, I took all my questions to Tim Pysell, PA-C Physician Assistant and Director of Physician Assistants, and Logan Stewart from ORTHOCAROLINA.
Tim is the Director of Physician Assistants at OrthoCarolina, and Logan is their Public Relations Manager – and both took the Standing Desk jump last year.
Tim is cautious about the claims that exercise is useless in addressing a sedentary office life. “Don’t negate the effects of exercise ever!” he reminded me. After all, new studies crop up every other day showing unexpected benefits from exercise regimens of all shapes and sizes. Tim refers to those programs that revolve around short bouts of exercise at a time – “even just 10 minutes at a time” that have been proven successful. However, Tim personally made the transition to a standing desk last year because he was confident it would lend itself to his overall health and quality of life.
WHY STANDING DESKS?
“Standing burns more calories than sitting, so from a health standpoint it’s better to stand as much as possible throughout the day,” he says. “A standing desk is better for core strengthening, which helps decrease the likelihood of lumbar strain and disc problems.”
Tim explains to me just why sitting all day can be bad for your back.
“Let’s look at the spinal column,” he says. “You have different pressure levels in the spinal cord depending on your position. Standing upright is the position that puts the least amount of pressure on your spinal column.
The position that puts the highest amount of pressure on your spinal column? Sitting and leaning forward – like you would do when tying your shoes.”
How many of us, when we get tired at work, find ourselves gradually slouching more and more toward the screen all day? Sitting and leaning forward… yep, it happens.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR.
The first thing both Logan and Tim said immediately was: “Don’t forget about the mat!” Standing on a hard surface for long periods of time is not good either for your feet or your lower back.
Tim also recommends a modular desk where you can sit or stand.
“You need to have breaks,” he says. “It is not completely unhealthy to sit.”
We searched high and low to find the top rated modular standing/sitting desks for you, because #shoppingenablers over here ;).
- NextDesk Terra [it is high-tech, smooth, and best of all, prettyyyy].
- UpDesk – has hand-crank-able options, but you definitely want to go with the electric.
- ErgoDepot “Jarvis” – cheap and still effective. Considered to be the most cost-efficient option.
- GeekDesk – simple, with an excellent motor. You have to shop around to find the accessories, unlike with the NextDesk which easily adds wire management systems etc.
For even more detailed reviews, Wirecutter was the best resource.
Locally, we like the options at Relax The Back off of Park Rd; especially this work station that would allow you to make the change as unobtrusively as possible in your office:
Relax The Back also carries this salivation-worthy, high-tech dream:
…called by USAToday: “the stand-up winner for form, function, futuristic tech promise and flat-out fantastic aesthetic.”
HOW TO STAND.
This is perhaps the most important thing to know going into the switch to a Standing Desk. Logan had to learn it the hard way.
“I bought a standing desk and started using it with just my laptop,” she explained. “My monitor was fine, but I had to elevate my hands to type on the keyboard. I noticed after awhile that it would make my upper back really tight, and put my shoulders into a shrugging position.”
“Ergonomics are important, I’ll say that,” agrees Tim. “If you just go out and buy a platform, without knowing what to look for, ergonomically speaking, you may be trading one problem for another.”
But don’t let that discourage you! Tim is confident that this is something you can do on your own, with a little research.
“You should ask someone to spot you to make sure your shoulders are totally erect,” he says. “You should not be looking up or down. You need to maintain a neutral position with your neck.”
This image is exactly what you want to go for:
Logan adds that it is helpful to see people using standing desks IRL [In Real Life].
“Like at the Dowd YMCA,” she says. “You can see them from the main lobby – front entrance, right there on the left!”
We agree, which is why we just had to share the stories of our Real Life, local examples – Logan and Tim.
OrthoCarolina is one of the nationâ€™s leading independent academic orthopedics practices serving North Carolina and the southeast since 1922. They provide comprehensive musculoskeletal care including operative and non-operative care, diagnostic imaging and rehabilitative therapy. They are widely known for musculoskeletal research and training, and their physicians have specialized expertise in foot & ankle, hip & knee, shoulder & elbow, spine sports medicine, hand, pediatric orthopedics and physical medicine and rehabilitation.
1915 Randolph Road Charlotte, NC 28209 704-323-3000
Extensive locations all over North Carolina. For a location near you, see the website here.