If you spend hours sitting at a desk, the implications for your health are not good. Sitting for long periods of time is believed to increase the risk for obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It reduces blood flow to your muscles, such as your glutes, making them inactive and the tilt of your pelvis can put pressure on the spine.
As someone who had sciatica a couple of years ago, I’m certain that poor posture combined with long periods of desk dwelling and not prioritising exercise were the factors that caused it. I simply bent down one day and felt a weird ‘pop’ in my lower back. Very soon, pain was radiating out and over the following days an unrelenting shooting pain started in my backside and went all the way down my left leg and into my ankle – the classic symptoms of a bulging disc pressing on the sciatic nerve. It was incredibly debilitating and took 10 long weeks being unable to sit, walk, stand or lie down properly before the pain finally subsided.
Once I could walk normally again, I vowed never to take my back health for granted! I took positive action, losing a little weight and I started to go running. I also set about strengthening my core muscles through Pilates, which is known to aid posture and alignment. I was feeling good, but unfortunately managed to put my back out again, albeit to a lesser degree, about a year later whilst moving a desk. My back went into spasm and this time I sought help from a chiropractor as I was convinced I’d done the same thing as before and would have to endure weeks of sciatica again. Fortunately, a few chiro sessions sorted things out and I continue to get chiropractic adjustments every few months which I find really helpful in realigning everything and ‘re-setting’ the leg and foot that tends to get a bit of residual weakness.
Although my desk set up is quite ergonomic now, I’m aware that I still probably spend too much time sitting down in one position. So I was very happy to hear from Varidesk recently about their standing desks and wanted to find out more about how they can contribute to a better working practice.
I’d seen engineered desks before that can be raised and lowered, but they were incredibly expensive. The Varidesk option is cheaper but no less effective, as it simply rests on your existing desk and can be adjusted in seconds to raise your PC to a standing height. Varidesk sent me a sample of their Pro 30 (Single Display Surface) to try, which has 11 different height settings to choose from. I chose this particular model as it has plenty of space for my monitor, keyboard, notepad, phone, coffee cup etc!
Having used it now for a couple of weeks, it has been quite a revelation. Initially I thought I’d be alternating between standing and sitting, but that hasn’t been the case at all – I’ve done all my work on the PC standing! Just to clarify, I rarely work a solid eight hours in one go as I work from home, so have flexibility in my day and tend to do bursts of activity at my PC. But if you work in an office and stood for half a day, it would be a massive benefit. I’ve really not felt the need or desire to sit down when spending any time at my desk. I feel more proactive and efficient standing up and seem to avoid that ‘afternoon slump’. In short, I simply love this new way of working.
The other thing that has surprised me is how much I move around when I stand – before I’d have a tendancy to hunch over in the same static position, but now I’m constantly fidgeting, alternating the weight between my feet, flexing my hips – and if there’s music on you’ll probably find me dancing on the spot!
All this activity is bound to keep muscles flexing and blood circulating, which obviously can have great benefits to your health. According to Varidesk, standing desks don’t just lower your blood pressure, increase your blood flow, reduce the risk of Cardiovascular Disease, reduce the symptoms of lower back pain and improve your posture. They also burn around 50 additional calories an hour whilst you use one.
Think about that for a moment!
Varidesk has worked out that standing 4 hours out of your 8 hour work day will burn 200 calories a day, which is 1,000 per week and a staggering 52,000 per year. They say that is the equivalent of running 18.71 marathons, all from behind your desk, all whilst you work – isn’t that just mind boggling?!
There are several Varidesk designs in the range offering different sizes and features, and some come in a choice of black or white. They are fully assembled with no installation needed.
If you can’t change your desk job, it’s good to know that you can at least change your desk! Why not revolutionise your working habits and improve your health, too, with a Varidesk?
Thanks to Varidesk UK for gifting me a sample Pro 30 model which retails at £365