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A long standing experiment

Here’s a picture of me busy at work, in the sterile corporate environment where I spend my day when not sweating down at CrossFit, or chilaxing at home with the wifey, 3 sprogs and Chihuahua. Yes, I have a Chihuahua.

Amazing view of the O2 and the river Thames hey? But that’s not what I want to draw your attention to (nor my poor posture, nor the Chihuahua).

I’m standing up, and stand up pretty much all day. I inherited this Varidesk from a colleague who left a couple of months back and have been on my feet ever since. Humans are not designed to sit down all day after all so I thought I’d experiment and give it a whirl. It takes a bit of getting used to at first, especially if you’ve been sat behind a desk for most of the last 15 years.

In week 1 my feet and back got really tired and achy towards the end of each day, and I felt pretty self conscious a lot of the time.

In week 2 I bought a gel ‘anti-fatigue’ mat to stand on which is super comfy. Less aching already.

In week 3 I was getting used to it now physically but sometimes struggling to focus mentally on one task, especially when on conference calls notice I get distracted more easily and often try to multi-task. It’s like my body is in more of a ‘ready’ state and wants to do more.

In week 4 I was finding the right balance. If I need to give a conference call my full attention (which should be all of them) then I sit down and take in the view rather than having the laptop screen or mobile phone desperately trying to distract me.

Standing desks are a growing trend. In the last 6 months within my department we have gone from none to 4 people using standing desks. They are literally popping up all over the place.

Here’s some more observations:

  1. More people stop and talk to me during the day. People seem to find it hard to walk past and not interact in some way

  2. I get (a little bit) more done, especially at the beginning and the end of the day

  3. I mobilize less (was doing at least an hour a day of lactose ball mashing / massaging when sitting)

  4. I don’t feel bad sitting down in the evening

  5. Your shoes matter. Decent thickness rubber soles will always be my first choice for work shoes going forward

  6. I’m more energetic when standing, but concentrate more fully on individual tasks when sitting

  7. My performance in the gym has improved. Mainly down to my hips being more open – box jumps are much easier these days. My squatting and dead-lifts have improved too.

Anyway what’s the point of this rambling? Not much other than to challenge you to do things differently once in a while. To remind you that challenging yourself physically doesn’t necessarily mean busting a gut down the gym. That looking for ways to get your brain firing, to be (slightly) more efficient and get (a little bit) more done doesn’t require you to read a book or download a new app.

Sometimes making a small tweak to your day to day norms can have a positive impact on your work and sports performance and general well being, so be open to trying new things and experimenting! Here’s another example – did you know that by switching the side of your computer mouse you will force yourself to use your non-dominant hand. This, in turn, will stimulate the neural connections between the right and left hemispheres on your brain. Scientific research confirmed that people that use both hands equally have 10% more nerve fibers joining the two sides of the brain.

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Maybe I’ll upgrade to a tredesk one day, which are basically speed limited treadmills that are incorporated into a standing desk. Mark Sisson encourages his staff to use them and they look fun, but you’d just have to be careful you don’t end up like this guy…(NB. this is a YouTube video, so this may get blocked by office firewalls if viewing on a work machine, however I recommend you access this via a different method if possible – trust me it’s worth a watch!)

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