Working eight to ten-hour days might make you feel chained to your desk, but cutting into your freetime isn’t the only negative impact it’s having on you. Americans are leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and the side-effects are wreaking havoc on our health. Sitting for too many hours each day has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer. It sounds dire, but there’s a simple solution: We need to move and stand more.
If you work in an office, you’re probably aware that standing desks are growing in popularity. It’s not just a fad. Standing desks encourage office workers to spend less time on their seat and more time on their feet. The more you move throughout the day (standing, walking, or doing light exercises at your desk), the more you cancel out the negative effects of sitting. Even fidgeting can help—vindication for anyone who grew up hearing their mom say “Sit still!” constantly.
Switching from a fixed-height desk to a standing desk has many benefits, including:
- Increased productivity
- Improved mood
- Greater energy
- Weight loss
- Relieved back pain
However, you can’t make the change from sitting to standing like flipping a switch. Starting to use a standing desk is a process, and if you rush it, you might experience back pain, fatigue, leg cramps, or burnout.
Take our 30-Day Standing Challenge to make the transition to your new standing desk seamless and even fun!
The 30-Day Standing Challenge:
WEEK ONE: Start slow. Commit to standing for 15 minutes at a time, once per hour. While on your feet, don’t be afraid to move around. Standing completely still is more uncomfortable; it’s natural to shift your weight and fidget. In week one, the goal is just to start getting used to working on your feet. It will take some getting used to! Be patient with yourself.
WEEK TWO: It’s time to start extending the amount of time you spend standing. You can take two approaches: either increase the duration of each standing session, or decrease the interval between standing sessions. For example, you can add 5 minutes of standing each time you stand, or you can subtract 5 minutes from your sitting time while continuing to stand for 15-minute increments.
WEEK THREE: By the end of week two, you should be getting pretty comfortable on your feet. Your target should be to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes. Once you hit that target, start experimenting with which work activities are easiest to complete while standing.
Some people find that activities that require intense focus are easier to complete while sitting, whereas low-concentration tasks like phone calls are simple to do on their feet. Figure out what works for you, then start planning your daily schedule accordingly. Ideally, these tasks will fall in the appropriate 30-minute window of sitting or standing.
WEEK FOUR: You’re approaching standing pro status in week four! Bump up the challenge by incorporating simple exercises into your standing sessions, such as:
- Calf raises
- Stationary stepping
When you’ve completed the 30-Day Standing Challenge, congratulations! Your next challenge is to incorporate these new habits into your everyday routine. You’ve hit a good rhythm—don’t stop now!
Tips for Success
Committing to the 30-Day Standing Challenge is the first step, but making the transition from sitting to standing won’t be easy. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Use a sit-stand desk. A height-adjustable sit-stand desk is best for this challenge because you can alternate between sitting and standing, slowly building up your endurance for longer periods on your feet. Electric models even have an automatic reminder system, so you’ll be alerted when it’s time to sit or stand.
- Recruit a buddy.Invite a couple colleagues to join you for the 30-Day Standing Challenge. Not only will it be more fun, but you can all serve as each other’s accountability partners, providing encouragement to keep going even when your feet are tired or you’re having a rough day.
- Use good posture. Using correct posture will be the difference between the 30-Day Standing Challenge being a miserable, painful experience and it being the start of a healthful new habit. Standing with poor posture can cause back and neck pain, leg cramps, fatigue, and headaches.
To stand with good posture:
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Put your weight on the balls of your feet.
- Set your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Roll your shoulders back to stand straight up.
- Tuck your stomach in.
- Buy an anti-fatigue mat.Anti-fatigue mats provide cushioning and support for your feet while standing. They’re always a good accessory to have when you’re using a standing desk, but they will be especially helpful for easing the transition while you’re still getting used to working on your feet.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is our body’s intensive recovery period. Your body is going to be more tired than usual at the end of each day during the 30-Day Standing Challenge, so it’s more important than ever to get your solid 8 hours of sleep at night.
Good luck! When the going gets tough, remind yourself that the changes you’re making during the challenge will have a long-term positive impact on your well-being and longevity. A lifetime of health benefits are well worth some initial discomfort. Report back and let us know how it went!