Is your office setup making you sick? Mine was, until I bought a Varidesk.
A Varidesk is a height-adjustable desk that can take you from sitting to standing with one quick adjustment.
No longer at ease
As a freelance editor, I work exclusively from home, and have done so for a number of years. However, until recently, I was breaking all the rules in terms of ergonomics. (Ergonomics is the science or art of making work spaces safer and more comfortable.)
For starters, my office chair offered no back and arm support. And I was ruled by aesthetics, not logic. My antique desk looked the part, but its dimensions were all wrong for me.
During busy periods, it was not uncommon for me to work for hours on end without moving. Ironically, while I am active out of hours and over weekends, my working life has always been sedentary. It entailed sitting at my desk for between six to eight hours per day. I seldom moved, besides inching towards the printer to add paper, or to take bathroom and coffee breaks. I even had lunch at my desk. (A show of hands if any of this sounds familiar!)
I developed some lingering sports injuries from sitting for extended periods with my hips in a closed position.
Then things fell apart
I had been told about the importance of having the correct ergonomic setup and of the need to take frequent breaks to stretch, or simply to stand up. Because I had seldom experienced any adverse effects, I kept beavering away in the same scrunched position I always had.
I also mistakenly believed that the amount of sport I did would compensate for my immobility during the day.
After a contracted period of feeling less-than-perky, with constant backache, neckache, headache, nausea and vomiting, I started looking at alternatives, which included finding an alternative desk-chair arrangement.
Then I recalled someone mentioning the Varidesk, and I did some research.
A wheeny bit of Varidesk history
Standing desks have been around since the 18th century, but they had snob appeal so only the very rich could afford them.
Architects and draftsmen have been using them, or variations thereof, forever!
They were originally made to a one-size-fits-all arrangement, so too bad if you were 5 foot 2.
Sitting-standing variations – or height-adjustable desks – are a fairly recent innovation. This is the concept on which the Varidesk is based.
What the medics say
- The medical fraternity is at one about the health risks of extended and uninterrupted sitting and link prolonged inactivity to the increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
- Conversely, some studies have concluded that standing at a desk burns more calories than sitting at a desk for the same length of time, which is indeed a plus.
- The jury is still out on the effects of standing in one position for too long. However, there is agreement on the advantages of alternating standing and sitting. This is what most standing desks now enable you to do.
New Varidesk … new me
The term standing desk might seem a contradiction in terms, because desks are surely things we sit at. But it is the variable nature of the Varidesk that makes it so user-friendly.
I have been using the Varidesk for about six months now. This is my perspective:
- I am totally smitten with it because I start each day feeling much more energised than previously as I don’t immediately sink into a sitting position.
- If standing correctly, with both feet on the floor, my body is immediately in an open position, with my head above my neck, not tilted forwards or upwards and my hips and shoulders back, as they should be.
- Although not scientifically tested, I seem to type faster and more accurately standing than I do sitting.
- An added bonus … I don’t experience the same mid-afternoon slump when standing than when I’m sitting.
- Although I prefer to work with the desk in a standing position, I put it into a seated position for work that requires extreme concentration.
The video below shows just how easy it is to use the Varidesk.
What you can do
As I am self-employed, I was able to make the necessary changes to my work space. If you work for someone else in a larger or communal office environment, the chances are that you will have inherited your desk and computer from your predecessor. You are unlikely to have much say in what equipment you use. However, you owe it to yourself to start lobbying management to look into the ergonomic health of its employees. Argue on the basis that you will be more productive. They might just listen.
For further information, go to www.varidesk.co.za
- Proofreading: Heather Thorne
- Photographs and video: Angela Hendricks, physio at Ergotherapy Solutions