25 June 2011

Standing desks and upgraded websites

"Standing desks" are a bit of a hot topic on the net at the moment. Apparently there are studies showing that, even if you get your 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, sitting for the rest of the day is bad for your health. So all sorts of people are experimenting with standing desks - desks arranged so that the work surface is high enough to use standing up.

I haven't read the studies, so I can't comment on their validity. I do know that after sitting for several hours I feel sore and sluggish. So I've joined the trend and I'm experimenting with writing standing up. My 'standing desk' is nothing more than one of those trays with folding legs perched on top of my usual desk. It's just the right height to be able to use my laptop comfortably while standing. I've found that I need to have the laptop opened almost flat to avoid stooping to see the screen. I guess that might distort the display slightly, but since I'm only using it for text, it doesn't make a lot of difference.

So far, I haven't noticed any great improvement in my health and well being. But I do feel more like writing, since it becomes a break from sitting down rather than more of the same. I'm reminded of a small research project I did as a student. The hypothesis we were testing was that VDU's (visual display units - the ancient predecessors of computer screens) were bad for people's health. What we found was that it wasn't the time spent in front of a screen that made a difference, it was the variety of the work that people did and the opportunity to move around and interact. People who spent the whole day sitting alone in front of a screen entering data into the computer had most sick days. Not a surprising result, really.

So here I am, at nine o'clock on a Saturday evening, writing about writing. I've been sitting for hours at a computer screen for days on end, and need a break. The church is developing a new website, and I've been helping with that. I decided that it would be a good opportunity to move all the articles that I wrote for the church website ages ago and put them on my own website. But then I discovered that my website, which I hardly ever look at these days, was barely functional. So I've been working on that as well. (The site is so old and basic that I'm still able to tweak it using Windows' notepad!). Anyway, that's done, and the church website is also just about ready to roll. Hooray!

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