Sunday, September 21, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;69.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nsct.png;2014-09-21 22:07:08
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Standing desks a growing trend – although a little late – in Telegraph newsroom

David Brooks

It’s not often that I’m a trend-setter. By “not often,” I mean never.

But every pattern has exceptions, and here is one: I have created a trend in The Telegraph newsroom so sweeping that it can be spotted by even the most casual observer. We are now a positive forest of standing desks. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

It’s not often that I’m a trend-setter. By “not often,” I mean never.

But every pattern has exceptions, and here is one: I have created a trend in The Telegraph newsroom so sweeping that it can be spotted by even the most casual observer. We are now a positive forest of standing desks.

The idea of standing desks isn’t all that new, of course.

“We’re seeing more and more of it,” said George Kamberis, a sales manager at Office Furniture Solutions, which recently consolidated its long-time Factory Street store into its Manchester store. “People are enquiring about them.”

In fact, he said, some people go further.

“One woman wanted a desk with a treadmill. I thought she was pulling my leg,” he admitted.

But standing desks are new to The Telegraph newsroom, entirely thanks to me.

I entered this realm after I strained my back so badly that EMTs had to haul me out of the house. Terrified by this glimpse of the life immobilized, I began doing exercises to strengthen my “core” (a goofy term that, to my surprise, actually means something) and also doing back-oriented stretches with silly names like “bird dog” and “the cat/cow.”

I also checked into lifestyle changes and found that sitting is frowned on by back doctors, since it does various bad things over time to muscles and joints and spines.

So I nailed together three boards to create a wobbly platform that holds my keyboard and mouse, and put my computer screen atop some old telephone books. Voila – instant standing desk!

Since then, I spend about half my working day standing up and typing atop the platform (as I’m doing this very instant). The rest of the day, I toss it under the desk and lower the screen, so I can sit for a change. Variety is the spice of work.

At first when I set this up, the newsroom made fun of me – that is, they made fun of me for different reasons than previously.

But evidence continued to pile up about the deleterious effects of sitting on our health, not just on our backs. Problems range from the obvious, like obesity, to the surprising: Sitting appears to fool your pancreas into producing too much insulin, which is correlated with certain cancers.

Further, research indicates you can’t compensate for all that sitting just by sweating at the gym after work. You’ve got to sit less.

Those accumulated findings along with the sight of me and my gimcrack platform finally had an effect on coworkers.

One day, city hall reporter Jim Haddadin started piling books, leftover filing trays and an old, broken computer speaker on his desk, creating a rickety tower that violated several OSHA rules but did hold up his monitor and keyboard.

Our “cops and courts” reporter Joe Cote followed suit, using no fewer than 11 old dictionaries to create his computer platforms. Copy editor Beth Eisenberg and features editor Kathleen Palmer were next, creating artistic assemblages of books and blocks to hold up their keyboards and mouses.

As a result, at any given time, almost half the newsroom might be standing up and working. Am I a trend-setter, or what?

“As someone who worked for a chiropractor for years, I know standing is much better for your overall health than sitting,” said Palmer when I asked about her newfound predilection for upright employment.

She added a surprising realization: “I’m much less tired and sore when I stand for long hours instead of sitting. Being hunched over your keyboard is bad for your posture and your body’s ability to properly function.”

I can’t say I entirely agree – an hour of standing is my limit – but it’s true that standing for long periods is less tiring than I had expected.

It’s also true that this is no panacea. I still have to eat less crud and exercise more every day and keep an eye on my weight and all that boring grown-up stuff. But every little bit helps.

It may not always help the people who need it most though. When I asked Kamberis what sort of people were looking into standing desks, he said it was mostly really fit-looking folks.

“You don’t see people that are out of shape – like me – who are buying them,” he said.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).