Desk for Success: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution in 2023
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Half of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution, and we suspect an even larger percentage of our readers will make a resolution. Statistically, half of those are related to weight loss or generally improving health. And, unfortunately, around a quarter of the people will have scrapped their resolution by the end of the first week of the new year.
Resolutions are a harsh business. The sad truth is that, once initial optimism is stripped away, humans are pretty lousy at keeping promises to themselves. There are plenty of reasons, and a lot of them boil down to one thing: We aren’t built for immediate, enduring change. The more drastic your resolution is, the less likely it is to stick.
Let’s take willpower as an example. Willpower, it turns out, doesn’t originate from some deep-seated bit of the soul. It comes from a chunk of the cortex, and it’s just as subject to strain as any other part of the human body. So much so, in fact, that it can easily be overtaxed, for instance, by focusing on too many resolutions at once. Even nutrition factors in because exerting self-control consumes glucose, and a starved brain does a poor job of resisting temptation (a major factor in the failure of extreme diets).
That’s why we think a standing desk is the perfect place to start. Why? For one, standing (and even treadmill) desks are a much gentler change in lifestyle than other, more intense fitness interventions. Think of a more traditional health resolution like spending a few hours at the gym each week. What immediately comes to mind? Probably effort, sweating, and possibly some vague phobia involving barbells (we can’t be the only ones). But even more importantly, the concept of “time investment” likely surfaced as well.
In fact, the number one reason that people resisted going to the gym, or wound up scrapping scheduled visits, was the perception of time investment. Most people viewed hours spent at the gym as time devoted entirely to working out, which would then bite into work or leisure time. Concerns over physical exhaustion and injury were also prevalent. But with a standing desk, all of those factors evaporate. By design, if you work or have leisure time at your desk while sitting, you can do those things while standing. And because it’s incredibly easy to work into standing at a desk at your own pace, this is exactly the type of resolution you can actually maintain.
Will a Standing Desk Make a Difference?
It most certainly will. The rates of metabolic syndrome (leading to obesity and diabetes) and of many other related diseases are rising meteorically. The ramp up in follow-on afflictions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, increased joint, neck, shoulder and back pain, and much more can all be traced back to the rise in sitting disease. Lower back pain, “computer hunch” issues, poor circulation in the lower extremities, and shortened life expectancy also go hand in hand with a sedentary lifestyle. A standing desk is the most obvious and most readily available way around these issues.
Standing at a desk also keys into the concept of “fading,” the practice of gradually reducing a behavior (sitting, in this case). In John Norcross’ landmark study of factors in keeping or dropping resolutions, fading was among the best measures used by effective resolvers. Stimulus control, or keeping environmental reminders of a resolution, was also helpful—and nothing reminds you to stop sitting so much quite like a room with a standing desk in it—and that slow, gradual health change is key to improving health.
How Do You Get Started?
The most important thing to ensure year-long success is to establish a habit first, then progress to your next goal. For your first milestone, start with something you are highly confident you can accomplish. As you tick off your accomplished goals one by one, month by month, you’ll build momentum and continue to grow your future goals!
Here’s an example of a year-long, 12-step program:
- January – Stand at my desk for 1 hour each work day
- February – Adjust my diet to eat a healthy breakfast every day
- March – Do something active on every odd day of the month (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.), and stand at my desk for 2 hours each work day
- April – Run, bike, or do a weight circuit every odd day of the month
- May – Meal plan my lunches in addition to eating a healthy breakfast every day
- June – Complete an event/race every weekend in June
- July – Go for a walk on my breaks at work
- August – Adjust my diet to include a healthy dinner, and stand at my desk for 3 hours each work day (begin with 30 minute sessions, and gradually work up to 2 hours at a time)
- September – Do something active every single weekday after work
- October – Run, bike, or do a weight circuit every single weekday after work
- November- Stand at my desk for 4 hours each work day (no more than 2 hours at a time)
- December- Do something active every single day for the entire month, and think about whether adopting the use of a treadmill desk is appropriate (a great kick-off to the next year’s 12-stop program design!)
Official Calorie Burn Statistics
The numbers are out. After years of speculation, extrapolation, and downright false health claims made by some manufacturers, laboratory data collected by major medical research institutions from a large pool of users of both standing desks and treadmill desks has been compiled into our definitive report on How Many Calories Can You Really Expect to Burn Using a Standing Desk or Treadmill Desk. If weight loss is indeed your goal for the new year than check out the massive difference in calorie burn between standing and walking while working.