I can’t count how many articles I have read that tell me excessive sitting (i.e. a very sedentary life) is bad for my health. These articles usually follow the same sensationalist pattern:
- The more you sit, the fatter you get.
- The more you sit, the higher your risk of disease an early death.
I don’t have to read a scary headline to know sitting all day is bad for me, I can feel it when I do. But, in today’s age and career landscape how can we even escape this?
Most jobs are desk and computer bound. We spend hours in traffic (Sitting) while we move from one location to the next. AND when we get there – to meetings – to dinners – to work – to lounge, we are just trading one seat for another.
When striving towards a healthier life it is important to have a 360 degree approach. It’s not enough to just exercise and eat well. The same way we can’t out-train a bad diet, I know I can’t out-exercise the damage I’m doing to my body by sitting for the majority of my day.
When I set out for a solution, thanks to discovering DeskStand, I didn’t have to consider a career change (My dream choice was to be a ballerina – which I tried and failed at FYI).
DeskStand call themselves ‘The Healthy Posture Company’. The DeskStand is a high quality standing desk. Their products offer a healthy balance between sitting while working and standing while working.
I immediately liked that they are proudly South African – Their products are designed by South African Ryan Roberts and made in Cape Town.
I watched Ryan talk about the DeskStand on Espresso before trying it out. It resonated with me when he said, ‘Standing and working increases focus and energy.” Now who doesn’t need some more of both!? I was sold, so when DeskStand sent us their JUMBO DeskStand, I called Dibbs on testing it.
Things to know about the DeskStand
- It’s reasonably priced
To give you some perspective on these prices, I found alternatives that go from R8K and for an actual standing desk – you’re looking at R13K.
- It’s lightweight
It arrives flat packed, 4 pieces neatly bundled with a rope inside a box. You don’t need a team of burly movers to lift it but I will admit I had slight trouble carrying it (Currently working on that upper body strength). I had to call in my mover person named Zissy – dynamite does come in tiny packages. Once the box was opened the pieces themselves were incredibly lightweight.
- It’s easy to assemble
Putting it together was insanely quick and easy. It requires no tools and no DIY prowess. (Watch their assembly guide – I am not over exaggerating.)
Getting started with a DeskStand
I have to admit, I was excited to start – until D-Day arrived. I felt lazy and frightened. Planning for change and actually implementing change are two different animals.
Luckily questions were already removed from my mind. To get started with a healthier work life, DeskStand welcome you with a two week challenge. Genius I’d say. Transitioning from an existence of sitting all day to standing was not going to be easy. They immediately limited questions like ‘How do I do it?’ and ‘How Long do I stand for?’
A 10 day challenge takes you from standing for 1 hour (Days 1 and 2) and gradually builds you up to standing for 4 hours (Days 9 and 10). They also send you an email that has pre-set web eggtimers to track your challenge.
What it feels like to use a DeskStand
Looking at the stand is making me tired. Can I do this? Just do it.
5 minutes in: This is awesome, I know they say stand for only 1 hr on day 1 but I think I could go longer.
40 minutes in: I’m getting tired, lower backs starting to hurt, want to sit, hang in there almost over!
BEEP [60 minutes]: What’s beeping? Oh my word, it’s the egg timer. I survived! Yay I can sit. I need a glass of water. (Side note: woohoo this might help my daily water targets too!)
Man does it feel good to sit.
I feel quite motivated when I get working at the DeskStand, like I just want to achieve all my day’s tasks.
16 minutes in: I’m getting thirsty again and feeling tired, I do want to sit down. This is quite embarrassing seeing as I can run a 15km with no water.
37 minutes in: I really want to sit. Off to go fetch a jug of water.
BEEP [60 minutes]: Got into a zone, didn’t see that coming but relieved to sit.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Have a jug of water handy.
Nervous going into today because 2 hours seems so long.
I’ve come prepared:
- I moved the shelf that has the nice slot to the bottom so I could put my cell phone in it (took me two days to discover this) and
- Have a water bottle ready on my desk!
I know the higher shelf is meant for your screen but I love that it’s adjustable and that you can make it work for you. I like using the higher shelf as a spot to keep some notes and a notebook that I need to reference but don’t like on my immediate work space. I’ve also stuck some business cards of people that I need to contact on the edge of this shelf so it is easy to remember to do make the calls.
6 minutes in: It is insane how much this makes you want to drink water. Healthy habits go hand in hand.
11 minutes in: My phone just vibrated (I keep it on silent). Instead of stopping to work on a doc I am working on, I can easily glance across to see if it was important.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Slot your phone in the groove.
My feet feel sore (I’m standing in socks) so I check the timer to see what’s left. Eeekkk I just looked at my timer and it’s still saying 1 hour 49 minutes to go. My connection must have dropped. That was (seemingly) ages ago, what do I do??? I refresh the browser but this sets the timer to 2 hours to go. Luckily I know I started standing at 10:16 and now it’s 11:09 so I’m using my phone timer. 1 hour and 7 minutes to go.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Do not rely on the web browser eggtimer.
1 hour and 6 minutes in: My legs are feeling quite fidgety so I’m moving around a little bit and stretching. I’ve just clocked in my 3rd healthy habit just from using this stand!! (I’m getting excited in case you didn’t notice).
KEY TAKEAWAY: Do stretches while Standing.
1 hour and 17 minutes in: I am getting fidgety but it hasn’t been too bad. I feel strain in my lower and upper back. Doing some stretches!
BEEP [2 Hours]: Timer done. Woah! I did not see that coming J In the middle of something so I’m going to finish up before I sit. 15 minutes later I’m still standing.
I finally sat. My feet and lower back feel really tired and I am relieved to be sitting.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Schedule your DeskStand time for busy work and get into a zone. It’s when I’m switching tasks that I feel like I want to sit.
5 minutes in: I’m tired and want to sit. Is this ever going to feel natural?
23 minutes in: I desperately want to sit down. I am drinking water and trying to focus solely on the work I am doing. Again I am standing in my socks and start to feel it in my feet. Note to self: tomorrow try standing in takkies.
56 minutes in: I am really really tired. Lower back starting to hurt. Stretch sequence here I come!
1 hour in: I get a phone call and I love how easily I can see with the phone slotted in the shelf. I stick my headphones into the phone and slot the phone back in the slat. This feels really ergonomic.
BEEP [2 Hours]: I survived the last hour without too much discomfort but pretty relieved to hear the egg timer beep!
I’m relieved I’m not on 3 hours today. Have my water glass ready and remember to put on takkies to see if my feet feel better. I wear heels all the time, so this shoe, barefoot strategy is important because I know standing in my heels for this challenge is a bad idea.
21 minutes in: I’m really tired and want to sit. It occurs to me this is because I’m doing the DeskStand challenge at the end of the day instead of the beginning. If I did my hours first thing in my day before I’m tired, would it feel better? Next thing to try!!
32 minutes in: Is it cheating if I pace around the office a little? I’ve had an incredibly active day (My Fitbit is already showing over 16000 steps). I think that this is what is making today harder.
53 minutes in: I need to sit! Today is really horrible. I feel like I’ve hit the wall – you know the wall you hit in a marathon? YUP I’m there. Stretch guide time!!!! + some water. Feeling a bit better. I got this, I can do this. FOCUS!
I am pretty sure my eggtimer webpage tab said 42 mins to go but when I went inside to check, the page refreshed to 1 hour 59 minutes! Luckily my tip from Day 3 came in handy and I have my phones timer going too. 39 minutes to go!!! Wooohhoooo the end is near.
1 hour and 41 minutes in: Even though I did get into a zone, this is not getting easier today. My feet are sore and I am tired and I realise that If I’m feeling like this after more than 1.5 hours of standing, it’s probably best for me to just sit. I feel like if I sit I’ll be quitting but listening to your body is important too right? Ok that’s it – I’m calling it a day. Ok wait – its 17 mins to go – let me at least get to 15. 10, 9, 8, 7… I’m out.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Listen to your body.
Here goes the serious day, a bit scared.
I wanted to start in the beginning of the day seeing as I had such a hard time yesterday but my schedule this week is not compatible with being able to. I’m being ‘forced’ to leave this till the end of my day but off the bat I am feeling better. I’m only on 4400 Fitbit steps so I have had a much less active day. Shoes are off and I’m back to sock standing. Let’s see how we do!
48 minutes in: It’s the first time I’m looking at the clock. I’m having a much easier time tonight but I am pacing a bit and have had to walk around the office to fetch things.
I looked because I notice my back starting to ache. It suddenly occurs to me, this ache is very similar to how you feel when you consciously try to sit with a straight posture and you want to crouch. Could this be because I’m in a good posture for a prolonged period? I’m getting thirsty now too which has taken longer to happen than previous days. I must be building up standing endurance.
1 hour and 11minutes in: Almost halfway! I’ve just gone to fetch some water. Seeing as I was still upright I don’t think this counts as an interruption. (I treat everything like a competition :-|)
2 hours15 minutes in: I’ve just returned from a toilet break. That felt like cheating. :-/ I am doing much better tonight than I thought I would.
BEEP [3 Hours]: Wow, I survived. I can feel it in my lower back. I think I found it much easier today because I moved around so much.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Move around and interact with you work space – this is one of the key intentions of using the DeskStand.
Let’s do this thing! I’m feeling so much more confident knowing I got through yesterday. Again I’ve had to leave this to the end of my day but have so much work to get through I think my focus will be more on that than the challenge. My day has been more active than yesterday (currently on 13 000 Fitbit steps), so it will be interesting to see if this affects me.
43 minutes in: I find I’m focusing and not looking at my clock. I need to eat so I’m going to pause the clock so I do get a full 3 hours even though I’m having a mini break.
1 hour and 35 minutes in: Ok the tireds have hit and I want to sit. My lower back and the undersides of my feet are starting to feel it. I am surprised I passed the halfway mark with no issues.
1 hour and 39 minutes in: I stopped myself leaning on the shelf :-/ That is not good. Stretch guide time!!
1 hour and 46 minutes in: Ok so I seemed to have turned a bit of a corner. I am struggling now and it’s affecting my productivity – I’m pacing and swaying a lot and instead of focusing on my work, I am consumed by the thoughts of wanting to sit. I check my HR and its 10 points above my usual seated resting pace. I’m taking the decision to alternate sitting and standing for the next hour. I realise that there does seem to be a link between how active I have been in a day to how much I can withstand standing without too much discomfort. I sit!
2 hours and 15 minutes in: I’m being a big girl and getting back up 🙂
2 hours and 39 minutes in: Back down 🙁
BEEP [3 Hours]: Not such a successful attempt but I’m beginning to understand what works for me.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Learn what sitting standing ratio works for you.
I’m nearing the end of this challenge and I am worried that I am standing because I feel like I have to do the challenge not because I want to. I know that there are certain tasks I prefer standing for like writing.
52 minutes in: Time is going easier. I only looked now because I went to the bathroom and was curious. I always feel like I’m cheating when I do but I need to remind myself this isn’t a forced standing challenge. I am not going to lose if I sit down for a minute.
1 hour and 37 minutes in: I need water and need to stretch!
2 hours and 15 minutes in: I’m getting quite antsy/ irritable. It’s largely related to the type of work I’m doing and I really do want to sit but am holding out.
2 hours and 36 minutes in: I have settled, not feeling too bad.
BEEP [3 Hours]: Quite relieved!
Today is scary because it’s my first 4 hour session. But, I’m also at the end of the challenge and have a much clearer idea of how to make the DeskStand work for me.
Even though I’ve had a very active morning (on 15000 Fitbit steps) I am finally putting in ‘my hours’ in the beginning of the day rather than later.
I’m wearing flip flops today and am curious to see how my feet hold up.
55 minutes in: The first hour has been virtually painless. The underside of my soles are starting to hurt, I think standing in socks has so far worked the best for me. Onwards I march! (Ok stand.)
3 hours and 2 minutes in: I’m really feeling it. I’d love to sit down. I’d love to have a nap.
BEEP [4 hours]: Oh. And Yay. I know, I’m never not going to be excited to sit afterwards.
I feel like a winner. I know I can do it and so I do.
How DeskStand Helped me
DeskStand helped me have a stronger focus with my work flow. When I was standing using it, I wanted to achieve all my day’s targets. It especially helped with writing assignments.
Before starting my DeskStand challenge I was battling to get in 8 glasses of water a day. It’s a goal I have had forever and just haven’t been able to get myself to slip slowly though out the day. Every single day I use it, I hit my water targets.
DeskStand forced me to stretch more. Stretching is great for you but it’s another thing I never really make time for. It was an incredible experience to automatically start stretching while I was working.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised that by taking on one healthy habit, two extra ones naturally followed. DeskStand isn’t just helping me improve my posture and burn more calories, it’s also helping me drink 8 glasses of water and stretch daily too.
My Top Tips for using DeskStand
- Take the DeskStand challenge to gradually work up your standing endurance and to discover what works for you.
- Buy their Anti-Fatigue foam mat to help your feet. No matter what shoe I wore, I felt strain in my soles.
- Use DeskStand daily sessions to help you swallow your morning frogs. It focuses you and is best used before you are tired.
- Use your own timer.
- If you’re limited on space spring for their A-Stand. It’s perfect for creating a highly efficient work area in crowded areas.
What DeskStand Say
Sitting has become a part of history and will end off as a bad habit that prevented people from being more productive, energetic and healthier.
The DeskStand challenge is no set in stone, it is more of a guide to ease the user into standing more. If you feel like sitting then sit, if you feel like standing then stand. Ryan from DeskStand compares this to going to the gym,
“If you feel like your body needs it then do it! It is very important to listen to your body, don’t push yourself to the point where you start resenting what you set out to achieve.”
Transitioning is not easy and requires some discipline, however, it does indeed get easier to stand more over time.
We (promote healthier lifestyles and becoming more active, we do not promote standing all day at all! We actually advise sitting for half the day and standing or moving for the other half. Most of us (people with ‘computer’ jobs) are actually sedentary (inactive) for over to 15 hours per day (in the car, sitting at work, sitting for lunch, dinner, on the couch and then finally sleeping for 8 hours) That’s a long time to do nothing with our bodies. In fact, most of us only take 3500 steps per day compared to in the 1800’s when the average Jo walked 16000 steps per day!
The Anti Fatigue Foam Mat comes highly recommended when purchasing one of our Sit-Stand workstations and should be used if you stand for at least 3 hours a day.
The DeskStand also adjusts to a sitting position. The user simply lowers the bottom shelf to the bottom slot and places their laptop/screens on top. Push the DeskStand slightly back and place a separate keyboard and mouse on the table top. This setup is also ergonomic is design whereby the shelf acts as a laptop riser, bringing the screen to eye level while your arms remain at your side.
Find DeskStand over here and in case you’re not sold yet, they offer free shipping and a Lifetime return policy too, so really you have nothing to lose!
Feige is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to code things, design things, and all things beauty.