Workspaces, Posture, and Standing Desks

Standing desk and stability ball

Any extended sitting — such as at a desk, behind a wheel or in front of a screen — can be harmful. An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.

However, unlike some other studies, this analysis of data from more than 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Another study found that sitting time contributed little to mortality for people who were most active.

Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.

I write this post sitting on a stability ball using my new standing desk that my good friend Brad Stocker gifted me two weeks ago. At the start of the pandemic I realized I was feeling back pain that I did not experience before. After looking at the changes in my daily routine, I realized I was sitting for long periods of time. When I teach in the classroom I rarely sit, and spend most of the day actively moving about campus. Now at home, my teaching space was reduced to the backroom of my house in front of a screen. Noticing this, I created a makeshift standing desk out of a card table and a bunch of boxes. It worked until two weeks ago when I got this Cadillac of a standing desk.

I now can move the desk up and down. I spend most of the time standing and the little bit of sitting I do, I use a stability ball. Doing so has made a huge difference. My back pain is gone. The dynamic of teaching while standing feels more natural, and I don’t feel as spent at the end of the day than when I was stuck sitting.

Not everyone has a good friend like Brad with a standing desk to gift, but we can think creatively about adding a bit more movement to our day. Becoming aware of the need to move is the first step in doing so. The second step is getting on our feet more.

And if we need to sit for long periods of time, taking time to move after work is even more important.

By Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos Gonzalez teaches English at Miami Dade College and yoga and wellness in the community through Miami Firm Body, the company Maribel (his wife) and he co-founded. He works with words, movement, and the body. His calling is to invite others to join him in the joy of searching within and finding the strength and courage to walk toward wholeness. Carlos is a spell caster, an educational shaman whose core mission is to transform grief into a source of possible beauty, vulnerability into strength, fear into wonder.

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