It must not be an actual thing, or an officially diagnosed affliction, because I Googled "addiction to standing" and nothing that popped up in my search results indicated the existence of a physical (or emotional?) condition that involves an addiction to or a penchant for excessive standing. Most everything that came up on the Google list either had to do with the alternative rock band Jane's Addiction, or things that apparently have to do with standing in the shower and possibly singing while you're in the shower. Deeper down on the list was Elton John’s mediocre yet undeniably uplifting 1983 hit song, “I’m Still Standing.”
I'm standing a lot these days, and I’m pretty sure I'm OK with that. On New Year's Eve, my wife and I popped into a local establishment and found some friends seated at the bar when we strolled in. There was one open and available stool next to the two of them, and my wife wondered if I wanted to make our way to the other side of the bar, where there were several vacant stools. I told her that we should visit with our friends, and she, aware of my affinity for standing, immediately realized how the scenario would play out: She'd sit in the lone available stool and I would simply stand next to her.
I don’t know what it is...maybe I like people to look up to me. Or maybe I like looking down on them. Maybe standing helps keep my beer belly more elongated and slimmer looking, instead of all squished and expansive when I sit down.
Standing is good, people who know a thing or two about good health tell us. Or, at least it's better than sitting all the time. If you sit all the time, they call you "sedentary" or say that you lead a "sedentary lifestyle," and you're simply not going to find lots of things written or said about being healthy and fit that include the word "sedentary" in the description. After all, you can’t be a sedentary exercise nut or a sedentary lover of running half-marathons.
I'm now into my fourth year with my “Varidesk” at work. It's a nifty contraption that rises so I can stand while doing my work, but also can be easily lowered so I can sit. Early on, I'd lower it for an hour or two around mid-day so I could eat my lunch and relax in a seated position. Then I'd raise it and finish out the work day on my feet.
That was then, this is now. I haven't lowered my Varidesk for a couple years or so. Perhaps the best thing about standing all day at work is that when you get home and plop down on the couch or in a recliner, it really feels excellent. Seriously, it’s an amazing moment, almost as if sitting is a rare luxury.
But is that the kind of life one should strive for, to reach a point that sitting down amounts to an unusual treat to be especially savored? There has to be a hard-working, super-driven/motivated American worker angle here somewhere, to be used as ammunition in an argument that we’re better than those lazy Europeans who get four months vacation a year and a sanctioned three-hour afternoon nap each day...but I’m not going there.
I've been told by people who likely know better than me that it probably is possible to have too much of a good thing, if standing all day as part of an attempt to be more active is the good thing. On those days now and then when my hip sockets seem to ache a bit by early afternoon, I tend to agree. But I just can't bring myself to lower my desk. It’s like admitting defeat. And when I'm out with friends or at a friend's house and everyone is seated at the bar or a high-top table or in the kitchen or living room, I’m more than likely standing.
I try to convince myself when I'm at my standing work station that when I shift my weight from foot to foot I'm sort of "getting my steps in." You no doubt know all about "getting your steps in." It's pretty much the most important thing, the absolute key to health and longevity in the history of humankind. If you're not "getting your steps in," it’s premature curtains for you.
But on the few occasions that I've reminded myself to put my phone in my pocket while I'm doing all this weight-shifting back and forth, the health tracker app on my phone more often than not doesn't agree with my notion that I'm getting some valuable steps in, because it doesn’t seem to log any into my daily tally. It's almost like the app is saying, "Seriously, Mike? Who do you think you're fooling? You’re just swaying back and forth."
I suppose I need to find some middle ground. It was my wife’s birthday last week, so we popped out for a quick celebratory cocktail. We found a high-top table with two stools, and we were surrounded at other tables by friends and other people we know, and every soul was sitting. And, yet, I stood there, looking down at my seated wife as we waited for our server.
My wife spoke up. “You’re going to stand?” she said, with a tone that told me she wished I would sit next to her in public on her birthday.
I briefly pondered her query, then scanned the room to confirm that I was alone in my stand-dom. I figured people catching a glimpe of us might not even know if we were a couple there together. So I sat, and despite my bulging midsection, I fully enjoyed myself, and my company.