Physical Health in a Digital World

Posted by on May 24, 2012 in 2012, Blog, Editorial | One Comment

We all know physical health is important. But as we get older, it gets harder and harder to accomplish, especially in our increasingly digital world. In High School it was a lot easier to be on the cross-country team and then skateboard the night away. Life was simpler then. Now, we have bills to pay, jobs to do, and art to create. Many of us find ourselves slumped for at least 8 hours a day. (Not counting the hours we spend at home in front of the computer.) And this is not specific to the cubicle corporate world either. It strangles us creative types as well, if not more so.

When I took an in-house art job a little over 2 years ago, I noticed a drastic change in my physical health. It wasn’t even that it forced me to sit for 8 hours in front of a computer, because I did plenty of that prior while doing full-time freelance. But it definitely restricted my freedom to go for a walk or run whenever I wanted, or to just take a 20 minute break and so on. This also depends on your particular employer. And since I had a day job, I had to use as much time when I was home to work on freelance projects (and hangout with the wife). I gained 15 to 20 lbs. So I started running during my 30 minute lunch break. It didn’t really help that much.

So to counter this forced posture we have to be inventive with how we work. Change the rules where we can.

This past year I was introduced to a couple articles on reinventing the office. Mainly this article on www.fourhourworkweek.com.

Go ahead, give it a read.

Most everything I’ve done over the past few months in regard to work & health can be tracked to that article or at least elements of it. And since I had been looking for a new desk, the idea of a standing desk sounded fantastic. Though, someone else’s opinion or hype isn’t enough to sell me on something. I need some research. I want to see some studies. I want to see some well-informed articles. And if you’re like me, you do as well. Lucky for us the post above provided some links to some excellent studies and more articles. Here they are again just in case you skipped the earlier article or planned on reading it in full later.

New York Times article

Huffington Post study

British Journal of Sports Medicine article

A quick summary of benefits would be: Improved circulation, increased concentration, less back pain, and weight loss.

So after reading through those articles, I decided on giving the standing desk a try. I wanted to work standing, but I also wanted to have the option of comfortable ergonomic seating as well. Moreover, I wanted to invest in my prolonged health.

Let me back up real quick. When I first started freelancing in 2007, I bought myself a cheap computer desk. It was a piece of crap, but it worked. Plus I didn’t have much of a budget to work with. Regardless, due to bad posture and a desk that was probably too small (I’m 6’4″). I would regularly get back and shoulder pain. By getting a standing desk I wanted to force myself into a proper posture and give my body the advantages of good circulation and improved health. However, we all know that sometimes we’re just going to want to sit. This is fine. No one will blame you. We’re here to create good work, not to be an Ironman of Illustration. (The triathlon, not the superhero. ha, that might be a first on a fantasy illustration blog.) Ever since I ran in cross-country I’ve had slight knee problems after continuous strain. I don’t want the standing desk to be a deterrent for work, and I don’t want it to be a hassle to change between sitting and standing. Additionally, I didn’t think a high stool option would be that comfortable or be great ergonomically. The work flow is the most important. But it doesn’t have to be an “either or” situation. That’s why I opted for the motorized height adjustable desk.

So I researched the options out there, read some reviews, compared prices, and the one I thought was the best option for me was the GeekDesk with a Genuine Joe Anti-Fatigue Mat.

GeekDesk v2 with Genuine Joe Anti-Fatigue Mat

I’ve been using the desk for a few weeks now, and so far so good. I really enjoy standing while I work. (Especially after sitting for 8 hours at the day job.) I’m not really in a controled test environment, but I do know that after reorganizing my schedule to include running 5k after work a few days a week, paired with standing when I work at home, I’ve lost just under 10 lbs in a month. Obviously a healthy diet, regular meals (to keep that metabolism going) and a plethora of other factors help as well. But It’s got to be a lifestyle choice. And like most, I want to live a healthy life and create for as long as I can.

So go for it! If you have the funds, invest in your health with a height adjustable standing desk. But keep in mind, it does take some determination. You’ll have to train your body to work in the new improved environment you’ve set up for it.

And as always, it’s never the tools that make a difference, but the attitude and lifestyle choices that change how you react to the environment around you. Getting a fancy desk won’t make you lose weight and feel better, just as much as buying a fancy brush won’t make you paint like Greg Manchess or James Gurney. (Two of my favorite contemporaries.) Try taking smaller steps to improve your health, then move onto the big ones as they become available. Take a break here and there from the computer. Stretch a little. Go for a walk. Go for a run. And remember it’s not about losing 10 lbs next month, but about the journey of living a healthy life.

Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

-cheers, Denman

1 Comment

  1. Marc Scheff (@marcscheff)
    June 1, 2012

    I’m sold. Just ordered my geekdesk and exercise ball. Can’t wait!

    Reply

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