Monday, June 6, 2011

Stand up and join the revolution

About a month ago I joined the campus-wide revolution; well actually it’s more like a mini movement.

Wasn’t sure how I’d really like it, so shortly after May Day I fashioned a temporary no-cost experiment. After a month I’m thinking the stand-up desk is going to become a permanent fixture in this office – sans the recycled shelving and stacked yearbooks. Although my roomie said the creative use of old Istas offered “a touch of whimsy and nostalgia.”

When I mentioned my experiment to Mom, whose day job used to require her to stand in one place all day long, she basically asked me if I was nuts.

I expect that we all have different reasons for at least partially ditching the office chair. For me, I was attracted by the idea of avoiding shoulder strain of being hunched over a keyboard all day. And as long as I make it a point to stand balanced on two feet, my back does feel much better at the end of the day.

The company selling stand-sit desks tells of the dangers of “sitting disease” on its web site - in graphic detail. So I looked it up on webMD. It’s true, increasing “non-exercise activity,” i.e. standing , is good for the heart. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity while encouraging movement, improving alertness and burning calories. (Do you have sitting disease –

Colleagues across campus have various forms of stand-up or stand-sit desks, and at least one has traded his office chair for an exercise ball. Josh Smith ’05 introduced campus to the stand-sit desk over a year ago. (read his blog) Now one person has a stand-sit desk that raises and lowers at the touch of a finger. Another has a $23 box store special just big enough to hold her keyboard with the monitor sitting on top of a filing cabinet, among other stand-up desk solutions.

This is just one more example of how making small changes can result in big differences. As we prepare for a year-long examination of public health on campus it will be curious to see if the stand-up desk does really become a campus-wide revolution.

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