We’re told that sitting is the new smoking. As in, extended sitting down is as detrimental to our health as smoking is. It sounds extreme I know, but there’s some decent science behind the term ‘sitting disease’.
This is where smart standing desk solutions like Varidesk come to the party, getting us off our butts and onto our feet. Beyond the health benefits, research has shown that these standing desks help us work more effectively by improving our ability to pay attention as well as manage stress. There’s also evidence that shows work environments with standing desks encourage creativity, collaboration and productivity.
Other benefits include lowering blood pressure as well as a metabolism boost with fours hours of standing for five days each week equating to burning 650 calories. Which equates to almost two guilt-free chocolate muffins every week – a win win!
It makes sense – it’s so much easier to pop by your colleague’s desk for a quick check-in if you’re both already standing. Imagine a world where instead of emailing the colleague sitting next to us that we took two paces and had a quick face-to-face conversation. Now that would enhance productivity!
So, when Varidesk sent me a standing desk arrangement that could easily fit into my home office I was intrigued by this new way of working. As a travel writer, I spend way too many hours sitting at my desk it’s true. But I’m generally a pretty active person who runs, rides and dabbles in triathlon so anything that sniffs at being active has my immediate attention.
Research shows that prolonged sitting is unhealthy
The Heart Foundation says that people who sit less throughout the day have a lower risk of heart disease. Imagine that – by sitting less and standing or walking more you can help prevent early death. A study by the Texas A&M Health Science Centre found that standing desk users were 46% more productive and that participants reported a 75% reduction in body pain.
So why don’t we heed this message? When did we start sitting at every possible opportunity? Chairs are not new to be fair – Ancient Egyptians had them, as did the Aztecs and chairs were in common use in China as far back as the twelfth century.
Our lives are built around sitting at most every possible opportunity. We sit on buses, trains and planes. We sit at work, we sit at home and we sit when driving between the two. It’s almost like we only use our legs in order to move to the next sitting opportunity. Those of us who work at computers or in office environments are particularly susceptible.
What’s it like to use a standing desk?
The Varidesk model I’m using is the ProPlus 30 and is a height-adjustable fixture that sits atop my regular desk. The ProPlus 30 is a two-tier design with an inbuilt spring loaded system that allows the whole thing to raise and lower by squeezing catches on either side. The top section is roomy and easily takes the monitor, speakers and other things I need to hand while the lower section accommodates keyboard and mouse.
The Varidesk ProPlus 30 feels solid and secure enough to take my weight if I lean lightly against it. Admittedly, standing while tapping away at my keyboard felt a little weird at first. My brain needed a little readjusting to get used to working from a standing position. But the ergonomics of it felt good once I found the right height to suit my body.
Once I got used to it, I found I really enjoyed this standing work position. For a start, I had a much better view of the garden beyond my office window. But I found the real benefit was that I actually moved around a lot more. Rather than just standing in one place I found myself constantly moving from side to side, swivelling my hips, even stretching my calves, ankles and quads while tapping away.
I can almost convince myself I am doing a mini lower body workout and I definitely feel more energised. My creativity and general feeling of well being is undisputedly enhanced.
But perhaps what I love most is that I have a brilliant view as I type of a gorgeous olive backed sunbird flitting around the patio outside at eye level as he builds a nest – this is magical treat I would have missed entirely had I been sitting.
Verdict: Highly recommended
Note: Varidesk have supplied Fiona Harper with a review product for the purpose of this independent review