How Standing Positively Influenced My Health
By Kat Gal
Perhaps it was the long, cold winter in Upstate New York after living in forever-sunny Mexico for 6 months. Perhaps it was the toe I broke 6 weeks ago not allowing me to run. Perhaps it was constantly writing and working online. Perhaps it was being lazy and hanging out on social media too much. Perhaps it was the Gilmore Girls marathon (thank you, Netflix).
Whatever the reason, I’ve been sitting way too much throughout the past several months.
When I say sitting, I don’t mean sitting with perfect posture on an exercise ball or awesome chair. I am the first to admit that I am the queen of slouching when it comes to sitting.
Somehow, over the past 32 years of my life, I also haven’t manage to learn the “adult-way” of sitting – I simply curl my legs under me. Though I know that stretching breaks are important, I must confess that I haven’t been the best at those either.
I’ve been sitting so much that my body has started to feel it too.
I am not talking about the long-term problems prolonged sitting can cause, like organ damage, muscle degeneration, leg disorder, problems with the head, neck and shoulders, lower brain function and increased mortality. I am talking about nagging pains (that can certainly lead to these more serious issues).
I started noticing constant hip pains and some back stiffness. Not being able to run due a broken toe and only doing gentle swimming and hooping, I knew it was not from “too much” exercise. Besides, I only experienced the pain and discomfort when sitting, especially when sitting in a chair.
At first, it was something I could ignore, but in a relatively short time, it turned into a persistent issue that started as soon as I sat down and continued bothering me until I stood up again.
I needed to do something. Changing my poor posture when sitting didn’t seem to be enough. To be honest, for someone with a life-time of bad sitting posture, making sure to sit with a straight back was really challenging. Not to mention that the sitting position seemed to be the issue over-stretching my hips.
I decided to get more radical.
I decided to stop sitting, period.
Okay, I decided to stop sitting so much. I still had to sit down for meals at the dinner table, I watched a few music performances sitting in an auditorium, sat in a car a few times a week and curled up with a book or a film in the evening. But I gave up sitting for all other purposes.
I decided to try the standing desk method for two weeks.
No, I did not buy a standing desk for this experiment. Instead, I built one by putting a big box on the top of my desk. I moved my chair far away so I wouldn’t be tempted to sit down.
It was a little weird at first. But also super comfortable and natural, which was a bit strange. I was used to sitting so much that, for the first several days, I felt out of place standing around. I kept wanting to sit down, but since the chair was far out of my reach, I kept standing.
I got used to it eventually, for the most part anyways. I admit that there were several evenings when I ended up sitting on the floor with my laptop.
My DIY standing desk is not perfect. Since I have a laptop (instead of a desktop), the monitor is not in front of my face. Hence my posture not being perfect. But it is so much better than slouching on my chair with my legs curled up underneath.
So what happened after only 2 weeks of using a standing desk?
My hip pain and stiffness is gone. It is completely gone. I don’t feel it even when sitting down for dinner.
My productivity level is higher. I’ve felt more creative and more imaginative. I’ve written more blog posts and articles than I ever did during my coaching career. I’ve colored adult coloring pages. I’ve worked on my book. My journal is filled with so many ideas that I need to buy a new one soon.
I am pretty sure I smiled more too. This is no surprise, as I always feel more creative juices floating around when I am moving rather than when I am sitting or lying still. Standing by my desk also allowed me to move around a bit and encouraged me to stretch out at times.
I still feel much more creative and full of ideas when running, walking or swimming, but standing is a step up from sitting in the creativity department. Maybe those funny looking treadmill desks are not so weird after all. I kind of want one now… who knew!?
Overall, I really enjoyed using a standing desk and I will keep up with this habit. Will I completely convert to a standing desk? I am not sure, but for now, I am content with my new set-up.
It is all about balance. In my ideal life, I would have a desk with a chair or an exercise ball, a standing desk and a treadmill desk. Of course, I would also add a cozy area – a cool couch or a cute nook – to curl up in.
But for now, the box is staying on my desk. I am keeping the chair away. I am going to continue standing at my desk and expect to see further amazing benefits.
I want to hear from you! Do YOU use a standing desk? If so, how has it impacted your life – and your body?
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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