Office Workers Try Standing Desks

Published Date: August 8th, 2012

Aug 8 2012

Hundreds of companies, including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Google, offer employees standing and treadmill desk options. It's not just a Silicon Valley movement; employees at the FBI, the National Institutes of Health, the Mayo Clinic and dozens of universities have purchased some form of a standing or treadmill desk.As a result, some office workers are literally standing up for their health — shunning expensive ergonomically correct chairs, building makeshift standing desks and even slowly walking on treadmill desks, also called walkstations.

Photo By Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune

At Groupon's Chicago office, it's easy to look up to Joel Hadley. During most of his eight-hour-plus workday, Hadley stands at his desk, his head more than a foot above seated colleagues.
Hadley says standing makes him feel alert, focused and energized. He also has less back and neck pain than when he used a chair. But it's not necessarily the standing that makes Hadley feel better. Instead, the trick might be that the 29-year-old sales analyst rarely sits down.Thirty minutes of exercise a day used to be considered protection against the damaging effects of a desk job. Studies now show that even for those who work out during the day, prolonged sitting can increase the long-term risk of illness or death.Over the last several decades, increased use of cars, computers and television has contributed to chair disease, experts say. Some people are either lying down or sitting 20 hours a day, raising their risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and some cancers, Hamilton said.

Van der Ploeg's most recent study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that adults age 45 and older who sat 11 or more hours per day had a 40 percent increased risk of dying in the next three years compared with those who sat for less than four hours a day.Though the absolute risk of death was small for everyone, the study showed that "in people who do a similar amount of physical activity, those who sit less will have a lower risk of dying, compared to those who sit more," van der Ploeg said.

Groupon's Hadley, who said he enjoys sitting down when he thinks he has earned it — made his own standing desk nearly two years ago by propping his laptop on top of several black risers he found lying around the office. When he gets tired, he bends one leg at 90 degrees and rests that shin on the desk; then he switches sides. "When I sit down, I tend to relax," said Hadley, who has no plans to return to his chair. "This keeps me more on my game."
Hadley's enthusiasm inspired others in his row. Nima Elyassi-Rad, a senior sales intelligence analyst, also put his MacBook Pro on three risers. He says he stands about 12 hours a day; when he feels fatigued he sits on the arm of his chair. "I'm definitely more alert," he said.


"Office Workers Try Standing Desks" is posted under: Treadmill News