Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Case for Using a Standing Workstation

There are a lot of articles and new studies that suggest if you sit for long periods of time it will have significant adverse effects on your health and well-being. Many of us that work with computers and spend nearly our entire work day sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen know this to be true.  Here are a few resources I have found that help explain why sitting is not good for you health and why incorporating a Standing Workstation should be something to consider.
Stand Up While You Read This by Olivia Judson in 2010 was the first article I read on the topic and still is a good place to start.
Don't Just Sit There by Gretchen Reynolds from the New York Times. 
Sitting is Killing You by the Staff Writers at Medical Billing and Coding have put together a fantastic infographic backed by some solid industry research.
Why and How I Switched To a Standing Desk by Gina Trapani is another comprehensive article that I read a while ago and was influential in my decision to incorporate a Standing Desk to my office. 

The Reason I Starting Using a Standing Workstation
Last year I suffered a mild injury that caused a herniated disk in the thoracic region of my spine.  For months I suffered from intense pain.  The pain was not as bad when lying down or standing upright, but sitting for more than 30 minutes was unbearable.   I set out to try a standing workstation to see if that would enable me to keep working with less pain.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a standing workstation, it is pretty much as the name implies. Instead of a typical desk and chair, a standing working station is just a desk that is affixed higher so that you can stand up right while working.  I was able to put one together that is mounted to my wall for less than $50 at The Home Depot.

The results are astounding.  With this simple change in my work environment, I am able to work virtually pain free while my disk herniation heals itself. I am happy to report that my back pain is well under control and healing nicely.  The doctor tells me now in retrospect that the standing working workstation is a key factor to my speedy recovery. 

Today, in my home office I use both my Standing Workstation and a more traditional sitting work surface.  My personal computer, where I write and do side projects, is setup at the standing workstation and my work laptop is at my sitting desk.  This setup gives me the best of both worlds in my opinion.  I split my time from standing and sitting and it always keeps me moving which is equally important to just standing.    

I can only imagine what kinds of hoops and bureaucracy I would have to go through to have my employer supply me with a special standing workstation at the office.  Since I am a virtual employee and spend more of my time working in my personal home office, I am able to make that critical change without having to through much administrative pain.  

The last resource I want to share is a segment from NPR's Fresh Air by New York Times columnist Gretchen Reynolds. (The same Gretchen Reynolds I featured above.) Gretchen also has a new book out called The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer