You’re at your desk, slumped into a chair, straining to see the computer monitor. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted and your back and neck hurt. Isn’t there a better way to work? “Sitting is the new smoking,” says Dr. Joseph Cole, a physical medicine and rehab specialist at the White Plains and New Rochelle WESTMED offices. “Standing increases the blood flow, gets the heart pumping, and puts less pressure on your discs.”
Dr. Stephen Andrus, also a physical medicine and rehab specialist at WESTMED in the White Plains and Ridge Hill offices, agrees: “When you work in a standing position, there are many muscle groups firing to keep you upright. Long-term health benefits of standing versus sitting include improving the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems while increasing abdominal and leg strength.”
What’s the best way to get started?
Both doctors recommend a gradual transition. If you’ve been sitting for eight hours a day, start with an hour a day of standing. After a week to 10 days of that, increase to two hours. Mix up your workday with periods of standing and sitting.
How high should the monitor be compared to your eyes?
Cole recommends that the screen be at eye level or a little above. “Imagine you are standing on a ship deck and looking out at the horizon,” he says. “That’s what you should aim for.”
How high should the keyboard be for your arms/shoulders?
The keyboard should be at elbow level and in line with the forearm at a 90-degree angle, Andrus says. “Your forearm, wrist, hand, and mouse should be in a straight line; elbow at your side; shoulders relaxed.”
Should you do anything for the knees or back?
Keep a step stool or foam roller and put one foot up from time to time to alleviate stress on your back and knees. “Standing doesn’t mean you have to remain motionless,” Cole says. “Bending your legs periodically pumps blood from the calf.”