As you read this, are you sitting? If you are, ask yourself: just how long have I been in this position? Does it really feel right with my body to sit for most of the day?
Probably not so much, right? You can probably tell from that dead feeling in your legs, that slumping feeling arching through your back. Your body just wasn’t meant to sit in a chair all day!
New research says sitting for most of the day can not only cause aches and pains, it could very well be killing us. According to this revealing infographic, many humans are sitting more than ever before: up to 9.3 hours, which, for some of us, is even more time than we spend sleeping!
Sitting for too long each day can lead to increased risk of obesity, lackluster energy, and a whole list of nasty side effects – but, perhaps the most startling fact of all? Sitting 6 or more hours per day makes you up to 40 percent likelier to die within 15 years then someone who only sits for 3 hours. And that’s even if you exercise!
One Popular Science article proclaims that “sitting is the new smoking.” Yikes!
Dr. James Levine states that “Excessive sitting is a lethal activity.” He has even given the issue a name – a country-wide “sitting disease.”
Most studies indicate the fairly obvious conclusion that the only way to combat too much sitting is to stand. So, then, in our world of constant computer use and sedentary home activities, what can we do to improve our rate of standing?
If you want to go all out on the mission to avoid sitting, the easiest answer is to use the time you spend working to also stand. To do this, consider building a DIY standing desk for use at home or at work (or, if you’ve got the extra change, buy one).
Standing desks are all the rage these days; Google offers standing desks to its employees as part of the company’s wellness programming, and Facebook has reportedly more than 250 employees using standing desks. Lifehacker has even created a yoga posture series just for those using standing desks!
Building a standing desk isn’t particularly difficult when you consider the many options available to you. First, you can easily do the handiwork yourself – you’ll need a base (some have used old repurposed doors) and four legs to attach the base to. This is the full-on DIY treatment – check out the first idea listed here: two filing cabinets + four milk crates + a door = a standing desk from scratch!
If you don’t need a ton of desk space, you can also consider building or buying a wooden shelving unit and building out only the top level. Depending on your preferences, you’ll most likely want the desk to rise to the height of your elbows. Here’s a helpful graphic from Wired indicating the ideal set-up. You can also consider bolting a tabletop to your office wall at home at the right height, or a large bookshelf could do the trick, too. Here are 10 awesome ideas for making a standing desk in these and other similar methods.
Another temporary alternative is to simply use wood blocks or stands to lift your computer screen or laptop off of your regular desk. A bed tray supported on your desk is a quick fix that will work for some. Another great idea involves a simple shelving unit on top of your existing desk and, if you follow this method, should cost you less than $22! Here’s a similar one via Huffington Post you can throw together for less than $50.
Lifehacker has some great ideas, too: some involve setting up an old dresser; others only require hacks of IKEA tables.
Even Bob Vila, the king of DIY home projects and repairs himself, has some ideas for DIY standing desks to get you in the upright position. One of the most brilliant of the tips? Just use a sturdy office supply box and place your laptop or computer screen on top of it when you want to stand: and, voila! Standing desk set-up – no tools required whatsoever!
If these projects are too much, or you simply don’t have a work place where you think this will fly, consider these tips to increase your daily percentage of standing time, no handiwork or tools necessary:
- At work, propose walking meetings. Instead of sitting around the conference table yet again, suggest a walking meeting. With technologies in hand, it shouldn’t be a problem to record the conversation or take notes similarly to the way you would sitting around a desk. If this idea seems preposterous to other members of the group, perhaps just suggest that you all walk to the closest coffee shop to hold the meeting, using the caffeine as a bait (and you then get to sneak in some extra standing and walking time).
- Always take the long way there (when walking). Whether that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking as far away from stores as the lot will allow, or taking an alternate, slightly longer route when making a walking coffee run, always allow your legs more time to stretch and move throughout your day.
- Use every phone call (whether you make it or receive it) as a “wake up call” to stand up. At work, take phone calls standing or perhaps moving about the office. At home, use your ringer as a reminder: you could spend an hour catching up with Mom while lounging on the couch, or you could use it as an opportunity to stand and help save your own life (Mom will be so proud!)
- If you don’t receive or make frequent phone calls, set a timer on your phone at least once an hour that says “Get up and stretch your legs!” Use this time to grab tea or just simply do a quick leg stretch – anything to get that blood flowing in the legs again!
Whether you decide to buy or put together a DIY standing desk or simply work more standing and walking into your days, know you’re doing a great thing for your body, overall wellness, and energy levels throughout the day. Now, go: stand up and get moving, for the sake of your health!