Stand For Your Health

    Jim Hollen Standing stand up deskOver the last several years we’ve heard a lot about the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting, they say, is the new smoking. Among the most startling claims made by recent clinical studies is that sitting for more than 3 hours per day can reduce your life expectancy by up to 2 years. Even regular exercise cannot counteract the negative health effects of sitting. There is a compelling body of medical evidence that suggests that standing increases your metabolism, burns calories, reduces back pain, increases productivity, and improves overall health.

 

            My story might be similar to a some of yours. Athletics have been a huge part of my life since my childhood. I’ve always exercised regularly. I eat a plant-based, whole foods diet (i.e., vegan) and am conscientious about making good health choices. A few years ago, I developed a hip flexor injury after a ski trip. I went to physical therapy and learned what I thought was a running injury was actually a “sitting injury.” My physical therapist explained to me that when you sit for prolonged periods of time, your muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your legs and hips get short and tight. This is the opposite of what happens when you run, walk, or stand. I guess years of sitting at a desk grinding it out for 12-18 hours a day finally caught up with me.

 

            In addition to stretching and strengthening to solve my injury, I decided to start standing at work. I had the guys in our shop make a little podium that I could put on top of my desk. I put my laptop on top of the podium. It was a pretty basic set-up, but it worked. Standing enabled me to elongate my hip flexor muscles which really helped to reduce the tightness in my hips. I found myself doing calf stretches throughout the day as well. In general, I found myself moving around a lot more during the day and not having that compression in my lower back that starts to build up after hours of sitting. I got an anti-fatigue mat that was really cushy and made standing really easy. I found that all of the benefits of standing that I had read about were true. I felt more active, more productive, more alert, more empowered, and just generally healthier.

 

            After realizing how much standing helped me, we decided to start making stand-up desks for other people with the idea that maybe we could help them too. We came up with a simple but elegant design. Like the solution the guys in the shop madStandee Classic XL stand up standing podium deske for me, our first product, The Standee Classic, was a desktop podium product that folded flat and easily assembled with no tools. We added the Standee Classic-XL to meet the needs of our customers who wanted a larger desk podium with a little more real estate to work. We also added a really great anti-fatigue mat to complement our standing desk product line which we ingeniously named “StandeeMat.”

 

            We wanted to make our stand up desks out of eco-friendly materials so we chose bamboo, which is not only beautiful, but it is one of the most eco-friendly materials on earth.  We also wanted to make our desks in the U.S., not just because we wanted superior craftsmanship, but because we wanted to do our small part in helping to create jobs and support the U.S. economy.

 

            It’s been interesting to watch the market for stand-up desks grow. A lot of companies offer full-desk solutions with “adjustable height” models that go up and down with the push of a button. I suppose there are people who are looking to replace their conventional desk with a fancy solution. But, for me, I think it is all about standing. I view it more as an issue of will than an issue of equipment. I don’t need a fancy motorized desk to stand. I just want to stand and feel better. It reminds me of those guys who get the fancy weight lifting and exercise equipment and get everything synced with their new iPhone exercise app. I like the approach where you just run hard for an hour or accomplish just as much with a simple set of dumb bells and a pull-up bar. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to stand at work. You just need to stand. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to sit—meetings, lunch, commuting, etc. My advice is to start standing and not worry about finding a solution that makes it easy to sit.