I got up to write this blog.
I had to; sometimes I get so antsy. The desire for coffee and this visceral need to mentally work through something can be indistinguishable at times, but the response is always the same — I have to get up. I have to get moving. I have to leave the office and go downstairs — go outside even. But I have to get up, even if it’s just to fidget a little.
My ants-in-the-pants syndrome makes sense in light of an October 2015 study from the Texas A&M School of Public Health, which suggests that at some point, we all suffer from the same syndrome. It’s our brains way of telling us: Get up! Stop being such a stuck-in-the-chair office drone.
According to the study, recently published in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health, standing desks can improve memory, concentration and problem-solving. The research included 34 freshman high school students whose executive function, working memory and brain activation were evaluated in conjunction with their use of standing desks. Ultimately, researchers associated the intervention with a boost in both executive function and working memory capabilities.
Yes, this study involved young people, but as intuitive as this finding seems, who hasn’t physically felt a glimmer of the benefits standing can have as an adult? Researchhas been circulating out there for years now that prolonged sitting has been associated with premature death, chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, metabolic syndrome and, everyone’s favorite, obesity. Yet many of us still spend a decent amount of time seated.
Intermittently standing throughout the work day, on the other hand, is associated with feeling more comfortable, less fatigued, more energized, healthier, happier, focused and productive, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reporting on its Take-a-Stand Project back in 2011. Nothing has changed, except standing desk manufacturers have made significant inroads into the office furniture space since then.
Of course, most everything comes with some caveats. Standing desks should be used appropriately, in moderation and so forth. But who on, say, a Wednesday afternoon, couldn’t use a little extra energy or even better, a refreshed state of mind with which to address a nagging problem, generate a creative idea or learn something new?
It will be interesting to see what the workplace of the future will look like. Where will we all be while we work? Will we be less confined to the traditional structures of work life such as the office, desk, cube, chair, fluorescent lighting, phone and stapler? What tools are more conducive to workers doing their best? What does that mean from person to person?
It’s one reason why — before we reach that precious future — how learning is delivered is so important. We can’t be expected to be the best thinkers, creators and innovators when we’re always sitting down.