As previously discussed in our last article, "Sitting is the New Smoking", there have been a number of studies recently that highlight the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle upon one's health. Prolonged time sitting was found to be associated with increased risk of mortality as well as a great number of serious diseases.
What can we do for our health to fight the deleterious effects of sitting? Many of us have jobs that require significant time at a computer. We spend time at home on-line or performing tasks that are normally done sitting down.
In most situations, with some creativity, one can create a standing work station. My daughter recently injured her back at the gym and found that sitting aggravated her condition. She was in the middle of studying for some final exams and had a lot of computer time facing her! We piled boxes on our counter, raising her lap top to a comfortable height for standing use and she was able to continue on.
There are a number of professional products one can purchase to modify or raise a computer desk. Here are some inexpensive suggestions of things you can try at home that we have shared with members of our practice:
1. Use counters or shelves in your home that are higher than your regular desk or table to raise your work station. Placing sturdy boxes on your table can raise a laptop to the correct height. To raise a desk top computer, you might need something more stable. A low coffee table or end table can be placed on top of a desk or table to raise a monitor and keyboard.
2. Place an object (a small box, block or phone book) on the floor that will allow you to raise one foot and give your low back a rest. If you're standing at a kitchen counter or sink, you may open the door in front of you and place one foot inside the cupboard. This is the concept behind the rail that was used on the side of a bar in old-time western saloons. That might have been the very first ergonomic invention to relieve standing stress.
3. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes without heels. Make sure you include your orthotics if you need them. If you pronate when you stand, wearing proper support will reduce strain on your feet, knees, hips and back.
4. If you have a hard concrete floor, consider using a rubber mat to stand on to minimize the stress on your body.
5. Allow yourself to move while working as much as possible. This maintains blood flow and stops muscles from tightening up. If appropriate, play music while you are working and dance along! You will be more energized and alert.
Try these suggestions to create your own standing work station this summer. See how good it can feel to get out of the chair!