It’s official - we have just installed our second standing desk in the Enterprise Screen office. Ewan and Gavin blazed a trail around 6 months ago, adding a standing desk into Edit Suite 1 after listening to a podcast by Ben Consoli that discusses the impact that having a career in Production can have on your health.
I’ve been with Enterprise Screen for almost 4 months, moving from a sales job where I was on my feet all day to a relatively sedentary job as Social Media Coordinator. After a month I noticed I’d gained a couple of pounds (which I'm partially blaming on Leanne, who sits near me and always has snacks) and realised I wasn’t able to eat the same things I normally would. The upside of this is that my diet has improved because I tend to make better choices as a result.
After looking further into this, I was shocked to find the implications of sitting down for hours at a time were not just reflected in your waistline. The Huffington Post published an article that described sitting as the new smoking, with evidence showing that prolonged sitting can cause various types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Apparently, one hour on the chair has the same negative equivalent to smoking a cigarette - which means I must sit the equivalent of a packet a day.
In his podcast, Ben Consoli spoke to Zak Arnold about his website FitnessInPost.com, which discusses the impact of working in this industry - particularly in the case of Editors, who tend to sit for long stretches when working to tight deadlines. Being stationary for a long period of time means you can lose circulation to vital organs, which causes weight gain, sluggishness and a loss of motivation, which in turn begins a vicious cycle.
Here are the 5 steps that he suggested that could make a huge impact on our general health at work:
1) Set a Goal
Setting a goal for weight, mental well-being or increased activity gives you something to aim towards. Without this in place, there is little chance of you making a lasting impact on your lifestyle.
2) Track everything
Using a device to measure and track your progress gives you a baseline to work from, as well as increased motivation to achieve your targets. I’ve found MyFitnessPal a good app to use, as it tracks calories, daily exercise and nutrition. Plus, it’s free.
3) Make small changes
Making small, achievable changes can have a huge impact. This can be taking the stairs instead of the lift or replacing something in your diet. Instead of my usual gigantic sandwich, I’ve started bringing soup in for lunch. This has not only helped me lose weight, but it’s less expensive and I don’t feel tired halfway through the day anymore.
4) Get outside
When studying the impact light deprivation can have on mental health, Neuroscientists found that rats kept in darkness for up to 6 weeks exhibited signs of depression. The sun provides a natural boost to serotonin levels, so even being in natural sunlight for 30 minutes a day can make a huge difference.
5) Bring it
I personally feel this step is a bit too Americanised for my cynical Scottish mind to process. So instead we’ll just call it ‘Geein' it laldy’. This means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Join a gym, try Mindfulness, cut out the junk food, turn off the TV and go to sleep at a reasonable hour.
Who knows, maybe in the next 20 years everyone will have a standing desk. In the meantime, I’m still enjoying the novelty of having a desk and a nice comfortable chair. Now, pass me the biscuits.