Upstanding Adventures

Or adventures in standing up, as the case may be!

I am experimenting with a standing desk at work, to see if it really warrants all the hype.

Seriously. I think standing while working, rather than sitting, may be the most overhyped office trend of the decade.

Phrases like “Sitting is the new smoking” (as far as detrimental health effects) and references to “sitting disease” is enough to strike fear into the heart of any moderately health conscious IT geek.  I mean c’mon, even the Smithsonian is talking about it, so it must be a “thing”.

Plus, there are infographics (oooh, lots of infographics!) about the virtues of standing.  How much convincing do I need?

According to this guy I can burn 30 extra calories per hour if I fidget while I stand (which I do). Assuming six hours of my work day standing that’s 180 calories a day – equivalent to 30 minutes of aerobic dance according to the LoseIt app. Without all the sweating!  (Interestingly LoseIt does not have a way to log calories from standing at one’s desk… I wonder if that says something right there!)

And if my office is going to offer fancy new standing desks, what fool would I be to not take advantage?

A fool whose elbows don’t hurt.  Whose wrists don’t hurt. Whose lower back doesn’t hurt. Whose knees don’t hurt.

Because standing with bad posture on a hard floor with unsupportive shoes and keyboard and mouse at the wrong angle actually doesn’t do a whole heck of lot to encourage me to keep this experiment going.  [So far I’ve only made it three or four hours a day, for three days.]

Also, what if standing while working (even if it isn’t “exercise” per se) still burns enough calories to make me feel hungrier, thereby eating more, thereby undoing all the good of the extra fidgeting?

My other concern is that the most significant health benefits are all “avoidances” – I’m sure there’s a fancier word, but I haven’t found it yet – i.e., they are all about reducing the probability of something that might not happen anyway.  So if I stand at my desk, and I don’t get metabolic disease or cancer or cardiovascular disease, well, I might not have anyway due to good genes or other lifestyle choices.

All that said: I haven’t given up on standing yet. I bought a squishy mat to stand on, and have resigned myself to daily adjustments of mouse and keyboard and monitor height until I get it just right. I still don’t think that better posture will be an automatic result of standing more, nor that the extra calorie burn will be noticeable, but I’ll try to post weekly (hey, stop laughing!) with any new insights or observations.


  1. I’ve been standing at work for a couple years now, so maybe I started before the trend. I was forced into it. When you reach a certain age – and I have reached that age – and you spent your entire adult life sitting down and avoiding exercise – as I have – your lower back starts exacting revenge. The last straw was when I threw my back out by turning sideways. Standing at work forced my back to get stronger. No more hunchback-walking!

    It took a week to get used to the new posture. And your monitor and keyboard do have to be right, as you’re finding out; and you do need the right shoes. I stopped using a mat though.

    • Did you take active steps to improve your posture or did it work itself out under the influence of standing? I’m starting week three, and it doesn’t seem to have gotten any easier yet!

      • Hmm. At week 3 standing should be more comfortable. What kind of shoes are you wearing? For me, shoes make a huge difference. Some shoes make my lower back hurt. Barefoot is bad for me too. Good shoes are comfortable with the heels a little higher than the toes… I guess the same as for hair dressers or waitresses.

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