Posturing for a Better You

In an average lifetime:

  • 99,000+ hours are spent at work
  • 4 years within that work time are spent on the phone
  • 5 years are spent online

That’s a lot of time! And up to now, the majority was spent sitting – particularly if your work environment happens to be an office. You may move periodically from your workspace to other areas in or around the building, but overall, a big chunk of those 99,000+ hours take place in a chair.

Over the last decade or so, evidence has been collected regarding the long-term effects of posture, repetitive motion, and ergonomics. The findings? Basically, we aren’t as careful or cognizant as we should be related to our physical alignment, and we end up causing a fair amount of problems that could be avoided. To help illustrate the point, watch this short TED-Ed Original about what happens when we sit too long.

‘Working smarter’ isn’t just about end results such as efficiency and productivity… it’s also about the way we function as humans. Here’s a way to be smart: Consider how you physically interact with your work environment, and then make necessary changes that will improve health, mental clarity, and overall wellbeing. Maybe you’ll find that your monitor placement should be adjusted, or your office layout has become inefficient. Or, you might also discover, like Capital Electric’s CFO, Mary Harpster, that it’s time to stand up for yourself in the workplace.

After suffering a fall that broke her tailbone, Mary could not sit at her desk without excruciating pain. The circumstance pushed her a year ago into what she now regards as a life-changing decision – to opt for a standing desk. Here’s what she has to share about her experiences:

CP: What desk do you use, and how did you choose it?

MH: I researched standing desks, and knew that I wanted one I could retrofit to my current desk. I chose a Varidesk because it sits on top of my existing surface, and allows me to put it up or down as I want.

CP: How do you make the decision to stand or sit?

MH: I downloaded a program made by the manufacturer. In it, you set your weight to track calories burned, and how long you’d like to sit and stand. When it’s time to change position, the program prompts me. I also tend to stand during certain tasks, like preparing spreadsheets, because I know other activities will require me to sit.

CP: What benefits have you noticed so far?

MH: Because I am already standing, I find I move more. My goal is 10,000 steps daily, and my desk actually helps me achieve that. Now, I’ll walk to talk to someone rather than picking up the phone or using email. I also find I have more energy, and I’m burning more calories. Honestly, it feels good to be doing something healthy while I am doing my job.

CP: Any advice for someone considering the same type of desk?

MH: You have to really explore how you do your job… if you need a lot of room for papers or reference materials, a standing desk might make it more difficult. Conducting meetings is also a bit more challenging, especially if the person is expected to sit in front of your desk. I also purchased an anti-fatigue mat; it would be more physically taxing without it. If your job requires standing often, I highly recommend one – whether someone invests in a standing desk or not.

CP: Final thoughts?

MH: I can tell you that I will never go back to sitting all day. Like anything else, your body acclimates to its surroundings, so if I sit too long, I now feel physically compelled to stand up, or move around.

For another view on standing desks, click here.

— Mike



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