What I discovered after using a standing desk for 1 year

by Andy Ramage – Co-founder Aalpha Energy & Author OneYearNoBeer

The research suggests that sitting all day is bad for our health, but would losing our chairs improve performance? I decided to make a stand and find out.

The first thing I discovered about standing desks is that you don’t have to wait for the $2k super duper electronic: sitting, standing gizmo. If you wait – more than likely your company will never get around to paying for it. So my advice – make your own.

Standing desk 1: The prototype

My first desk was built out of coke cans and packs of sparkling waters. They were stacked on my existing desk with the keyboard and mouse on top – voila a standing desk. This was perfect to test the system. Although by Friday the lads had started a game of ‘standing-desk-Jenga’ and were slowing drinking it.

Standing desk 2: The upgrade

After my first desk collapsed in a fizzy heap I upgraded. This is the desk that I currently use and its works perfectly.

Here’s what I discovered after 1 year with a standing desk:

1. My back no longer aches

It’s not rocket science that sitting all day, very often, in a fixed position is terrible for your muscles and flexibility. As they tighten up, this can flow into your back. 2 weeks after my standing adventures began my aching back disappeared and has not returned since. A big win.

2. I am much more productive

Motion is emotion and standing has made me more productive. You cannot slip into that slouched, unmotivated, let’s just surf the web mode – because it can’t happen – you would fall over. You have to stay upright. Our physiology leads our psychology which keeps me brighter throughout the day. My rate of phone calls are higher and I spend more time on the tasks at hand.

3. You don’t need anywhere near as much space as you think

People are very funny about their desks and the space around them. One of the major obstacles to a DIY standing desk was that I lost most of my desk space. But you soon adapt. I check documents whilst standing and find a space to sign off on things.

4. I am on the move all day you can almost sense the extra calories burning off

Thanks to Gretchen Reynolds fantastic book ‘The first 20 minutes’ I discovered that your body likes to protect its current weight. So if you ramp up your levels of exercise your body will want to either rest or eat more in an attempt to balance calories and maintain weight. This is why, initially, it’s hard to drop weight and keep it there. But the good news is once you do – your body will fight to stay at this lighter weight. Reynolds went on to explain that when standing you burn stealth calories that your body does not go looking for. This inspired me to get my standing desk and you can almost feel those extra calories dropping off.

5. At first you get tired but you soon get over it

For the first couple of weeks I found that I was tired at the end of the day. But my body soon adjusted and this is no longer an issue.

6. I burnt my bridges and removed my chair

Originally I had a chair within reach for a quick break but this kept disrupting the standing flow. So I eventually removed the chair from the equation. This took away all options to sit. I usually take lunch as an opportunity to find some sitting time to rest before the afternoon session.

7. My body feels stronger

When the weekend comes and I can sit, stand or do what I like there is a real sense that my body is stronger. I have fewer aches and pains, whilst I have tons of extra vitality.

8. I now have a standing desk at home

My standing desk followed me home. I often use the weekends to work on other projects such as OneYearNoBeer.com a 30,90 and 365-day alcohol-free challenge. So I stepped up to the plate and now have a standing desk in the man cave. This is an upgraded version which I can wind up and down. I love it.

9. Creates more energy

I am on the move all the time and surprisingly this leads to more energy. When we’re slouched, half asleep over a desk our energy levels drop along with our motivation. But when I am standing my energy levels are much higher.

10. Inspired others

My first ‘liquid’ desk caused a lot of laughs and, as always, the knee-jerk reaction – was to dismiss it and stay with the crowd. But things are changing. I am slowly converting more of my office to the standing desk. More excitingly the Houston branch of Aalpha Energy have ALL upgraded to electronic stand/sit desks. This is good for them and good for business.

The takeaway:

The easy option is to stay sitting. But with a little extra effort, the rewards of a standing desk are huge. You will be more productive – I guarantee it. You will burn extra calories, your body will get stronger and healthier. Also, you will have more energy and motivation. Sitting all day long is not good for us. We were made to move and the standing desk gives us this option. For me, this is a total no-brainer and as you can see – there is nothing stopping you. 

Andy Ramage – Co-Founder Aalpha Energy Brokerage & OneYearNoBeer a 30,90 and 365-day alcohol-free challenge.