By June 27, 2011

Standing Up at Work: Week 2

So, it’s been two weeks since I started standing up at work to avoid the potential health ramifications of sitting all day.

It’s been a lot easier than I thought, and most of the problems have been social and not physical. Here are my thoughts after standing up for most of the work day.

My average work day

I start every day with a thirty minute meeting. Although it’s technically a “stand up” meeting to discourage people from screwing around, almost everyone sits down. I’ve been standing for these since I decided to stop sitting. Thirty minutes in the Stand Bank!

I typically have two to four additional meetings a day. If they are less than an hour I stand. If they are an hour or longer I’ll sit. Initially this was because my feet hurt, but at this point people get pissed that I stand up and they’re sitting. I can get away with it during “stand up” style meetings, but for longer meetings I take a seat.

I spend about an hour at lunch. This period is also spent sitting.

I stand up between three and seven hours a day depending on the number of hour-long meetings I have.

The good news

I was concerned that I’d be trading discomfort from sitting all day for discomfort from standing all day. Even with my crappy work shoes (more on them in a moment), I find that I am a lot less sore after standing all day than sitting. My shoulders, upper back, and lower back all feel better.

I also have a LOT less tension in my hamstrings, and standing up all day makes recovering from my work outs much easier. I work my legs in some way at least three times a week plus whatever walks Sedagive? and I squeeze in during the evenings.

Lastly, standing up at work is pretty comfortable, aside from ….

The bad news

People will pester you.

At first people were curious. “What are you doing?” “Why are you standing?” “Are you watching me work?” I explained what I was doing for the first three days, and then I printed out and hung the Sitting Is Killing You infographic from Medical Billing and Coding site that inspired me to stop sitting.

I’d say about a third of the people rounded the corner to my cube, read the infographic, and walked away. Those that remained to ask questions fell into two camps: those who were interested in how my standing was going, and those who wanted to bitch at me for standing up.

If curiosity was the first phase, resentment was (and still is) the second. People didn’t like that I was standing up. The most common sentiment was that I was making them feel lazy. I wasn’t surprised by this at all, it’s the same reaction I get when I eat or when I talk about reducing my body fat percentage. In general, the more out of shape my visitors were, the more they were offended or complained.

In jest, one of my friends at work sent me this photo:
http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/10375-2/IMAG0120.jpg

If you are easily effected by peer pressure or teasing, standing up at work may not be the right choice for you. Then again, if you’re easily influenced, standing up for anything may not be the right choice for you.

Very few of my co-workers have been supportive. Most of them had “standers” at prior jobs.

Discomfort-wise, I find that my feet start to bother me at about 2PM or so. I bought a mat for people who stand at their jobs, but frankly it isn’t getting the job done. I am going to review it soon, and start looking for an alternative. My work shoes have a very thin leather sole with no insert. They were clearly not made for standing. I bought some Dr. Sholl’s inserts and am going to try them out this week.

A foot rest / rail was recommended by someone on the Web who stands at work all day. Last Wednesday I taped together a big stack of index cards with painter’s tape and used that as a foot rest. It worked pretty well, and if I continue to have foot discomfort I may make a foot rail.

The future

I’m going to try the inserts in my shoes. If that doesn’t work, I may spring for a different pair of shoes — the ones I’m wearing now are almost four years old — and if that doesn’t work I’ll get another mat.

I already have an idea on how to make a foot rail out of PVC pipe, but I am in a phase right now where I want to stop taking things to the office if I can help it.

The mid-term plan is to start standing up at home. I already spend about thirty minutes in the morning reading while standing up, but I’d like to stop sitting down at my home computer. I’ll need to find some way to elevate my keyboard, mouse, center speaker and monitor while keeping the rest of the table at its current height. I’m thinking about building something, but I’ve never been particularly good at that. We’ll see.

So far, so good — and I wonder if anyone else will move their chair out of their cube.

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4 Comments on "Standing Up at Work: Week 2"

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  1. Ed says:

    Good for you. Laugh off the haters, I find most people adapt to new things after about a month, so you should see strange looks fade after that.

  2. Jenner says:

    I’d be interested in the research between standing and kneeling. Obviously one would have to devise some really effective support for the knees, but it would seem the benefits of standing would be the same for kneeling and it would solve the desk height and some other issues. I also seem to remember chairs with no back that had you in a semi kneeling position and had most of the weight on the knees. I haven’t seen them in a while, worth looking into? Knees are on my mind today. I tested the ATGATT principles on Friday with great success, but my knees are skinned up from insides of the gear. Ouch!

  3. Pete says:

    Hrm. Having read the previous post and the associated instigating infographic, I’m curious how you got from “sitting too much is bad for you” to “I’m only going to sit when I absolutely have to”. It seems that the biggest issue with sitting detailed by the infographic is basically “sitting too much can make you fat”. But as far as I can tell, you’re one of the blessed ones with a great metabolism and no weight issues. It seems like you could achieve the same benefits simply by taking more “walk breaks” and/or changing your seating arrangement (like replacing your traditional office chair with one of those “kneeling stools”). Going “full stander” seems like an extreme reaction to a problem you don’t appear to have in the first place.

  4. Jason says:

    I just started trying to stand a few days ago at work. I found the adjustable desks we have can actually raise up so that you can stand. I started it after lunch on Wednesday and all day yesterday. Today I’m planning on doing it as well. Before spending money on shoes (if you haven’t already), try buying a cheap pillow. I’m using that barefooted on a tile floor (okay; so far only the past hour), it seems to work and I figure maybe every few days I’ll have to fluff it up, but hey, you can decorate it with cool pillow cases. 😉