When considering options for reducing sitting time one of two solutions quickly runs to the forefront. The first is exercise, or its various derivatives, such as stretching breaks. These are a great starting point, but you will not make a meaningful dent in your sitting time with exercise alone. The second piece that inevitably comes up is getting a standing desk. Standing desks are wonderful tools. If you shell out enough money, you can even get a desk with multiple presets and easy adjustability with the press of a single button. Some have reminders around your scheduled time of work to make sure you are not sitting for too long. Nevertheless, they are tools, and nothing more. They can be very helpful in supporting your newfound habit of reduced sitting, but they cannot create this habit. It is the unfortunate reality that most people seem to think this purchase will change their habits, which only results in money spent.
Instead of purchasing a standing desk, develop your initial habits around standing work. There are many alternatives you can use that require little to no financial investment. Boxes and books can be piled on a table to raise your monitor for video meetings. You can stand up and pace or at least allow yourself to fidget when on phone calls. You can start each half of your workday with 15 minutes of standing email replies. These seem very simple, and they are. It is about implementing them and staying consistent. It is infinitely better to spend 15 minutes standing each half of the workday than spending 2.5 hours standing one day a week. Not only does this improve your physiology and productivity, but it also builds your habits.
It is only once you have built in these habits that you should consider a standing desk. The desk should be a way for you to expand on these habits or reduce the stress of having to rearrange your desk each time you would like to stand. I have encountered many companies that purchased standing desks for all of their employees to find that only 5-10% actually used them. This advice is even more important when it comes to treadmill desks, which I think are meant for a select few. Don’t try to buy habits. As the saying goes, “walk before you run”, except in this case, stand before you walk.