A Standing Desk and Dinner Last Night

Polenta Burgers - gluten-free & fructose friendlyThis is what we ate last night – a deconstructed gluten-free burger with polenta instead of bread buns. No one in our family missed the buns. There’s no need for a recipe because polenta is made according to the instructions on the packet, the chips were baked in the oven, the salad was assembled in two minutes and the meat patty was just that – seasoned minced beef, though I did add some cumin powder and cumin seeds because I love cumin. If you have good minced meat, there is no need to add anything else except seasoning. This was a meal I could eat without any qualms and everyone was happy with it. I am starting to get the hang of this.

When I visited the dietician following my food intolerance breath tests, she said that it was wise to take a holistic approach to my issues because of how much other factors like stress impact on the digestive system. So I have made a few changes and one of those is regarding my working position.

I sit at a desk for up to 8 hours a day in front of a computer at work and then go home and, apart from exercising and cooking dinner, I sit for another 3 ½ hours blogging and marketing my blog as well as doing other computer-based projects I am involved in. This adds up to a lot of sitting and I have often worried about it. I was brought up on a farm where movement was a natural part of the day. For much of my adult life, I have taught and that was also an active job compared to office work. The last seven years have been spent behind a desk and I have seen significant changes in my health – for the worse. I know that is part and parcel of getting older but all this sitting just feels wrong.

So last week I decided to create a standing desk at home. That is, Adriano created a standing desk for me. Last Sunday, we moved the construction into place under my existing desk and I have been standing ever since when home.

My standing desk at home

Yes, my feet and legs get tired but this means I move about a lot more, consuming calories and making the blood flow. I have a small overturned basket under my desk for resting one foot on to ease the back if necessary. Already this is starting to feel normal after only a few days and my feet are coping quite well but we do have a thick carpet with good underlay and I wear well-padded shoes.

Why am I doing this?

Studies have been done which show that sitting greatly increases the rate of mortality, especially from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The main study shows that people who sit for most of the day are 54%  more likely to die of heart attacks. That’s because sitting shuts down the circulation of a fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase. Scientists have found that standing up helps distribute the lipase through movement, which causes the body to process fat and cholesterol. Another interesting part to this study is that the results were the same whether a person exercised or not. Exercise doesn’t cancel out the effects of sitting for hours a day. The damage has already been done.

A few influential people who have stood at their desks by choice:

Writer, Ernest Hemmingway

Politician, Winston Churchill

Newspaper magnate, James Murdoch

Former Twitter developer and founder of BankSimple, Alex Payne

Creator of Instapaper, Marco Arment

Podcaster extraordinaire, Dan Benjamin

Novelist, Philip Roth

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

The author of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov.

Here are some interesting links where you can read more about this topic and the studies which have been done.

 New York Times







Think about this, do the research to see what is being said and then think about whether this could benefit you too. I will let you know how I progress with this new desk situation and whether I can see or feel the benefits.

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  1. says

    Oh my goodness Suzanne. You are going to live to a ripe old age at this rate. I must say that since I left my job I feel so much healthier. More fresh air, more active, less stress . I hadn’t thought about standing at my computer though :-)

    • says

      I am so jealous – feeling healthy, fresh air, active and less stress? Perfection I would say. I do try to get out to the park at lunchtime but that’s about it for fresh air. As soon as our son is out in the world, we will be fancy-free and not have to work. Maybe another year.

  2. says

    Good choice for your desk ~ I actually have had back issue and one of my employers in the past recommended an electric desk. You push a button and it goes up for standing or back down for sitting. Granted, they offered to pay for it but it was over five thousand dollars and I just couldn’t bring myself to getting it :-)

  3. says

    Really interesting post! I’ve read about the benefits of standing, and I really do sit a lot. Even though I walk quite a bit more than most people, I do wonder about all that sitting. You’ve created a simple and inexpensive solution to creating a standing desk! (I’ve priced them – they’re not cheap.) Great idea, and one I’m seriously considering. Thanks.

    • says

      If the walking is breaking up the sitting then that’s perfect but if it comes separate then the research shows it makes no difference. So the fit person is in just as much danger as the unfit person from this particular issue. Scarey!

  4. says

    Mouthwatering burger, I love your polenta “buns” – so creative! Your standing desk is a good idea, I try to remember to get up hourly and take breaks, but it’s easy to lose oneself into the depths of the computer for hours at a time!

    • says

      If you are getting up hourly to move around, then that is probably enough. I know what you mean about getting lost in computer work. Actually that happens a lot less when you are standing, which is good and bad.

  5. says

    What a great idea! I’ve heard the recent studies about increased mortality of those who sit all day…you were smart to implement this standing desk!

    PS…your burger looks fantastic!

  6. says

    You certainly are putting in a lot of effort to improve your health. I do too much sitting too. Always at my computer but I try to get up every half hour and just do things like hang out washing, collect the mail, put out the garbage etc, just so I’m not sitting for hours and hours. And I try to walk twice a day too and fit in a few swim squads a week. I make a huge effort not to use my car so do all my shopping with a trolley and I think it’s helping me as I’m forced to do so much more on foot rather than from behind the wheel. Happy Easter xx

    • says

      It sounds like you have a fairly balanced day between sitting, walking, swimming and doing chores. Leaving the car behind is something more people should do. Many take it to go less than a kilometre to the shops.

    • says

      Thanks. I hope it helps too, Karen. Because it is the weekend and I am at my desk all day, I am alternating between standing and perching on a high stool.

  7. says

    What a brilliant idea! I didn’t know all that about the differences between sitting and standing. I’m on my feet most of the days, teaching and pottering around home. But otherwise I’m sitting on the couch, a really old unsupportive couch.

    • says

      It’s amazing what you find out by surfing the net. It sounds to me like you have a great balance in your life. The pottering thing is perfect. It keeps the body in motion which is all that’s necessary.

  8. says

    I spend a lot of time in front of a computer but I get up a lot during the course of the day. I think I’d suffer, too, if I just sat for hours on end. Good for you to do something about it. Glad your new setup is working out wonderfully for you.

    Love the burger and congrats on your ebook!! :)

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