I Tried It: I Stood Up All Day for a Week

silhouette of woman standing

Unless you've been reclining under a rock for the past few years, you've probably heard that sitting is a really ineffective -- and downright dangerous -- health strategy.

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Ass-in-chair for long periods of time can have some pretty nasty consequences. Research has linked sitting to obesity, high blood pressure, an increase in belly fat -- even higher rates of anxiety.

As a freelance writer, I write about these things -- but unfortunately, I do so from, uh, my chair. So when I had the chance to write about what it was like to quite literally stand up for myself -- for an entire week -- damn straight I said yes.

The people at Uncaged Ergonomics were kind enough to send me their CHANGEdesk adjustable standing desk conversion kit -- a nifty, no-assembly required, three-tiered thingamajiggy that fit right on top of my usual workspace at my dining room table. Suddenly, my desk was chest-high, no chair necessary.

I admit that I eyed this layout for a few days, sitting beside it. The standing desk just seemed so ... high. Would I really be able to get any work done if I felt like I was at a lectern all day?

And then my week of standing began:

Day #1: For starters, standing to work is NOT like sitting to work. Sitting somehow tells my body to settle and concentrate. But standing for eight hours? My brain doesn't get it. It's impossible to concentrate for more than 10-20 minutes at a time.

I fidget. Wiggle. Walk into other rooms and stretch. My very unscientific theory? My brain associates standing with a transition -- like I'm rushing to do a few last minutes of work before I have to run out the door.

On the plus side, by evening, I'm not uncomfortable or aching to sit down. If anything, I feel less stiff than usual.

Eating dinner with my family while standing up doesn't take much getting used to ... which makes me sheepishly admit that I'm usually not sitting down that much anyway.

Note to self: When this week is over, stop popping up constantly to refill water, find Tabasco, get more napkins, etc.

Day #2:

Today, I add a cute little anti-fatigue mat to my stand-up routine. It's got a memory foam thing going on and my heels sink into it, which helps with yesterday's weird "Where we going?" reaction that my body had.

By mid-day, my brain's got the hang of stand-up work. But leisure time while standing? It's okay if you're playing pinball or having a beer at a bar. But stand in a corner and watch Better Call Saul with my husband? That's just sad. I went to bed instead.

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Day #3: My cat has suddenly realized she has no lap to sit on and she is pissed. For a good hour, she circles me at the standing desk, meowing like I am a cruel and thoughtless owner. So there's that.

But I've found a routine now that gets my body and brain in sync -- a hike with my dog in the morning satiates my need for movement just enough so when it's time to work, I'm not fidgety and my brain can concentrate.

When it comes time for dinner, my kids don't even ask where I'm eating and helpfully set a fork and napkin on top of my standing desk.

Day #4: Smoothest transition to work today so far. But while explaining  my new experiment to a fellow mom who also works at home, we notice a similarity: While analytical thinking comes no prob while standing, creative stuff somehow begs a seated position.

Am I just craving an excuse to sit back down? Maybe. A quick Google search (while standing, I swear!) turns up some proof that standing actually increases creativity.

Damn.

Day 5: I have a business lunch so I get a break from standing today. But the entire hour at the restaurant, I find myself slouching, leaning, listing ... I have forgotten how to sit and it is AWKWARD.

"Did I tell you I'm standing for a week?" I finally blurt out. Because it probably looks like I am either desperate to use the bathroom or just took a major dose of Ritalin.

When I get home to my standing desk -- I no longer have the twitches. The mind's a mysterious thing, y'all.

Day 6: I accidentally sit down on my daughter's bed while reading her a book at bedtime. "You're sitting! Stand up! STAND UP!" my daughter shrieks. Who taught my kids to be such rule-followers? Geez.

Day 7: The week of standing is over, and faster than I expected. At the end of the day, I gently collapse my CHANGEdesk and tenderly move it off my desk.

Do I recommend a standing desk for everyone on the planet? Totally. I felt far less stiff and sore and was able to be just as productive as I was in a seated position.

By the next morning, in fact, my standing desk is back on my desk and open for business. Does this mean I'll never sit again? Nah. (I'm sitting as I write THIS.) But honestly, standing simply feels better -- healthier, more organic, less slothlike.

Sorry, cat.

 

 

Image via Olesia Bilkei/Shutterstock

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