By now, it’s tough to argue that sitting for the vast majority of the day, five days a week, is not at all good for us. I stop short of fearing it’s actually killing me, but I end lots of days with a fatigued back and legs that feel like cinder blocks, so I’ve been thinking something needs to change before my ass becomes permanently affixed to my chair.
Luckily, I was approached by Lindsay Noll, who along with husband Luke Leafgren (who’s also a Harvard dean) and friend Paul Peterson has created the StandStand, a portable standing desk that’s currently enjoying notable success on Kickstarter. (It’s well surpassed it’s $15,000 goal with more than three weeks to go.)
Chatting with Noll via email, seated among a sea of colleagues as always, I decided to take her up on the offer. She actually hand-delivered a StandStand in early September, and as she walked into our office, the first three words to escape her lips, exhaled in a gasp, were, I kid you not: Oh my god.
Her message was pretty clear: You need this.
To put it to the test, I decided to use the StandStand for a week straight. Here’s how it went …
Day 1 – Monday, 9/22
My week-long test run with the StandStand starts now … pic.twitter.com/rHruFqc3RT
— Alex E. Weaver (@alexeweaver) September 22, 2014
It’s a sunny and cool Monday morning. Trucks are loading and unloading their wares outside our Faneuil Hall office, as is their custom, and I’m settling in for what I plan to be a week-long trial of my new StandStand. It’s refreshing standing up like this, though I can tell this thing is going to take some getting used to. It moves around a lot, the product, probably, of this whole setup feeling very foreign and me typing with far more force than is needed. But if I’m being honest with myself, and with you, I sit (read: slouch) at work far more than I should. (Rat race, man.) This whole standing thing should be good for me.
Noon check-in: Standing all day is hard. I’m tired. I want to sit down. So I do, but just for lunch. Also, I didn’t expect my feet to get so weary. Is this what 30 feels like?
End of day check-in: Battle tested, road weary. This is more work than I’d expected.
Day 2 – Tuesday, 9/23
Someone should have told me standing desks require so many accessories.
@alexeweaver We hope you enjoy your time at the standing desk. A quality anti-fatigue mat is the secret to staying comfy.
— SmartCells USA (@SmartCells_USA) September 23, 2014
Anti-fatigue mat? Should I have picked up a pair of moon shoes as well? What’s next, a travel pillow and a standing arm rest? Maybe our reliance on the office chair is because standing and typing all day takes so much extra, well … work.
End of the day check-in: Knowing I was leaving in the late afternoon for a Sox game, I stand all day. Honestly, it made me appreciate sidling up to a bar in Fenway more than usual. Maybe I can get used to this.
Day 3 – Wednesday, 9/24
Google image “standing desk” and you get an awful lot of happy-looking office rats in running shoes and flip-flops. This, I’ve learned, is no mere coincidence; it’s marketing. Wear heels all day, do you? Have fun with that. Same goes for those wingtips. I came into this thing thinking I could stand from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and go home refreshed and alert. Boy, was I wrong.
Noon check-in: I’m sitting again. But I find myself eyeing the corner with anticipation. I want to stand up more. I take this as a positive sign.
Day 4 – Thursday, 9/25
I have a system now: use the StandStand until lunch, go back to my desk and sit for a couple hours, then finish the day out standing. My pride wouldn’t allow this the first couple days; I’m 30 years old, I thought, I even work out on a pretty regular basis. Standing on my own two feet shouldn’t be a chore.
Well, it is.
End of day check-in: It’s still not easy, I wouldn’t say, but I’m getting used to this.
Day 5 – Friday, 9/26
Friday at last, the final day of my week-long standing desk trial period. I’ve learned a few things:
- I work 10-hour days, at least. Standing for every one of them is not realistic.
- Standing in the morning increased my productivity. Seriously, my inbox has never looked better.
- Being the one person standing in the far corner of your office is a little awkward. We all must suffer for our art, I suppose.
- This trial week was harder than I had expected. Which makes me think what I was doing before was really bad for me. I’m going to start standing at work more.
- The Kickstarter campaign claims StandStand can support 900 pounds of weight (that’s two Vince Wilforks and a linebacker), an impressive figure seeing how it only weighs about five pounds itself. Not having a baby elephant on hand, or two Vince Wilforks and a linebacker, I decided to see if it can support me.
- It can support me.
In the end, adjusting to standing far more than usual at work was more difficult than I’d expected, but all the benefits you read about were realized. I am more alert and productive, especially in the mornings; I do feel less overall fatigue at the end of the day; I do feel better about myself in general, knowing I’m making the best of an office situation that’s otherwise plotting to kill me.
If you’ve been considering trying a standing desk, I’d encourage you to take the plunge.
Just remember to come armed with comfortable shoes. Or an anti-fatigue mat.