March 29, 2010
Improve Productivity and Health by Relocating your Chair
A few months ago I started standing during my working day. The center of the
30″ display is at eye level, with the keyboard and trackball slightly above hip
I’ve read that sitting throughout the day (with your upper body supported by
leaning against the back of the chair) causes the back and abdominal muscles
which would otherwise be exerted holding your body upright to atrophy. There
seems to be some research to support this. There are even specific types of
chairs designed to enforce self-supporting posture.
I’ve experimented with many hacks to my personal space work arrangement over
the years. Many have been dead ends, but often enough they’ve been useful.
At first I couldn’t comfortably stand all day. My feet would be sore after
3 to 4 hours, so I would stand in the morning, and transition to sitting
whenever my feet complained. Changing between different pairs of shoes helped,
and being barefoot helped but was cold during the winter. I eventually settled
most often on some good quality slippers that just keep my feet warm with
minimal padding or support. You can find slippers that look almost like
Positive changes I’ve noticed
- When I’m in a moment of thought while hacking, I’ve noticed that the
absence of any required effort to “get up” means that I have a greater tendency
to step away from the screen while I think. I might pace around or look out
- No lower back pain toward the end of the day.
- My back is overall stronger (that’s apparent through tracking my regular
- I’m warmer (higher in the room where the warmer air is, plus the effort to
stand does burn more calories and maintains body heat.)
- Reduced eye strain, likely because of more frequent focusing on distant
- Keyboard and trackball positions are slightly more comfortable with less
pronation. I still eventually plan switching to a vertical keyboard (typing in
handshake position instead of palms downward.)
- Minor but noticeable improvements to digestion and elimination. This may
sound a bit unusual to discuss, but it’s not surprising. Peristalsis seems to
suffer from prolonged periods of little body motion.
- I look like a weirdo with a monitor on a chair on a desk. I’m used to
standing out, but I’ll get proper display mounts eventually.
- Less tolerance for long periods of chair sitting. A couple times a week I
work at a coffee shop. The first couple of hours of this are now actually more
comfortable, but that ends sooner.
- People on the internet will laugh at you.