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Episode 73: Stand-up Desk Do’s and Don’t with Daniel Angelini

***This is a podcast transcription and the grammar, spelling and slang may not be perfect ūüôā

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Kevin: Hey desk jockeys welcome to another episode of the modern desk jockey where I try to provide you with all kinds of health and wellness solutions for the desk worker. One of the things I’m getting asked so many times from my patients from some of the corporations we’re working with is the is the stand-up option, the stand-up desk.

Today I have Daniel Angelini from MOVI, it’s m-o-v-i workspace, and he’s going to give us a lot of good insights, you know, we’ve had this conversation before but he brings some really good information on how to properly implement the standing option in your workspace, and then they provide a solution that will work with your existing desk. And so, it’s not a whole entire new desk that you have to purchase which can get expensive, but he brings a lot of information to the episode not just details about his product.

A lot of people make very many mistakes when they try to convert from a sit to stand versus sitting all day, and it leads to some of the same types of issues they may have had when they were sitting. So, we don’t want that. He is a healthy individual that deals with issues as an end user basically he sits at a desk for a living, and he’s had a lot of issues even though he’s generally very healthy, and so we dive into some of that as well. So, I know you’ll enjoy some of the information that he brings from Down Under because they are from Australia and he’s doing a lot of great things. So, I will encourage you to pay close attention to some of the details he brings to today’s episode.

Before we dive into the episode, I wanted to have you go to moderndeskjockey.com and make sure you’re looking at the show notes that we provide you and some of the information there. You can also scroll through some of the other tabs, and we do have a Learning Center there for desk workers it’s very, very, affordable per month and it’s got all kinds of great information you’d ever want to know for desk work or presentations articles, videos, workout programs, free downloads, all kinds of easy to implement solutions for the desk worker.

And if you work for a company and you think that this type of offering, you know, we provide on-site solutions such as chiropractic ergonomics stretching, talks, things like that as well as our digital based ergonomics platform and it’s been very well received for many companies and so you can access all of our information on that website as well. So, check that out I’d appreciate that and, you know, before you finish with this episode if you could also write on your phone you can do that on the app leave us a review we would love to hear what you think of our show, or we’re wrapping up 2017 going into 2018 and looking to continue to provide weekly advice solutions and value for you. So, if we can improve or if there are any topics you want feel free to contact us Kevin@moderndeskjockey.com and I’d love some of your feedback. So, all right that’s the end of my little rant and intro for you and here is my interview with Daniel Angelini.

Kevin: Thank you for coming to our show today, Daniel. I really appreciate your time I know you’re down under and we had to coordinate sometimes I really appreciate you making that effort. So, before we dive into it tell us a little bit about yourself both personally and professionally.

Daniel: ¬†No problem at all thanks very much for having me on the show Kevin, really appreciate. Yeah, my background is in technology. I spent about 12 years in the tech industry in Australia my last job was actually with uber in Australia when they came out of here, and we were setting up. What I found there was that my job was just relying on being in the office being in front of laptop so much, and so I’m currently 33 but when I was going through a youngest of phase, and I still do focus a lot of time the energy on exercise, diet, looking after myself and keeping fit and active. I found that we just had I’ve had so much time this big chunk of sitting time every single day.

So, it was about five years ago I had this kind of you know the bizarre scenario where myself my dad my brother were all experiencing issues that were coming from excessive amounts of sitting. I didn’t realize that was the cause at the time but yeah basically we were having issues with a lot of pain I had sciatic nerve pain my dad actually had a lower back operation as a result of that. So, we’re all pretty fit people, pretty active and that was initially the trigger for me to start diving deeper and deeper into what the root cause of all these problems works I wasn’t sure what it was at the time. So, that sort of set me out into a into a you know this passion project researching finding out what was the cause and that’s when I discovered this connection and came across a lot of this research that’s out there linking, you know, physical inactivity and excessive amounts of sitting too so many health problems that we see today.

Kevin:¬† You know one of the distinctions I wanted to make for the audience is that, you mention, it you’re all, your family that you mentioned was generally very healthy and fit people and still dealing with the side effects or the adverse Effects of prolonged sitting, so it doesn’t it doesn’t just target unhealthy people it can really be healthy individuals.

Daniel: ¬†¬†Yeah definitely, you get that you know there’s so many deconditioning effects from excessive amounts of sitting and, you know, what was the big kind of red light for me was that I was spending so much energy and effort trying to stay fit and healthy, you know, eating well in the morning and getting out for lunchtime runs and all this sort of stuff really trying to cram my schedule and then you still have this 10 to 12 hour block or more of sitting time every single day. So, the conclusion from all of this research was like if you’re actually sitting that much every day and that’s accumulating throughout the week, can you be truly you know healthy and as fit in an optimal sense if you still have that there. So, the root cause is really changing the way you work and then as I began to understand that and validate that with the medical research that was there that led me into more of a research journey and eventually where we kind of got the business going and all that sort of thing. But yeah, my background is really as an end user someone who’s in the office not necessarily you know a physiotherapist or a chiropractor and that sort of thing who is treating people and seeing those issues all the time.

Kevin:¬† Yeah, you’re in the trenches so to speak.

Daniel: ¬†¬†Yeah, that’s right well you know it’s funny I speak to a lot of people they’re like oh you must be a physiotherapist or a chiropractor like no I’m the guy behind the computer like a lot of people listening.

Kevin: Yes, audience and obviously our audience is always trying to find the cutting edge or the thing they can do to really stave off the issues with sitting. So I want to ask you a question that I asked most my guest in is right now presently what is your biggest concern for the desk jockey?

Daniel: ¬†¬†I think from what I’ve seen you know companies are really taking it seriously enough and I think that more action needs to happen. I mean yeah there is this buzz and you know there is a bit of a movement toward standing desks but the research and the facts are out there, and they’re really quite shocking, you know, how many health problems are out there, for example, like on Q1, you know, obesity in the world overweight and obesity it’s currently at 2 billion adults around the world that’s a huge percentage of our population, you know, those kind of facts the World Health Organization is talking about physical inactivity being the fourth leading risk factor for death globally, so these are these are big statistics and they’re well backed out.

So, I think that you know the action isn’t really happening quickly enough and I also feel like the general public is acknowledging it, but then we just slot back into our habits.

Kevin: Okay so, Danny I want to ask a question I’m going to put you on the spot here a little bit, but you know give you a little bit to answer. If you’re talking to, you know, John or Mary and they’re healthy from the outside and they try to take care of the health, but they have you know they have a career where they sit at the desk for long hours five days a week, six days a week, whatever it may be. What would you do if you had a, you know, a few minutes to talk to them what would be your game plan for them to be healthy even though they are a desk jockey?

Daniel: ¬†¬†There’s a lot you can do I take you through three things. The first thing I think is it’s great to quantify a baseline. So, start off by coming aware of how much sitting time you’re doing so go through all the activities you’re doing throughout the day you know breakfast in the morning, transit, lunch, when you’re back at home on the couch, write down all the times you’re sitting throughout the day and tally the total time that you’ve got there so that’s your baseline and a lot of people might land it you know 11 hours a day. That at least gives you a starting point, and you want to try and work on lowering that, you can definitely do that. So, the next thing I would say is, that incremental amounts of movement so just natural movement it’s not unnecessarily back go to the gym and sweating it out it’s just about getting the body Moving which is what our bodies are designed to do, is the key.

So, that is then about introducing little ways to move throughout the day, so some tips might be I’m sure, you know, this has been something that’s mentioned on the podcast so walking meetings getting up and taking breaks every 20 minutes, taking a stretch at your desk, trying to collaborate with your co-workers and work face-to-face or talk face-to-face instead of sending email all the time, things like putting a lunchtime walking group together have, standing meetings in the office where you’re actually standing in a boardroom instead of sitting those sorts of things, you know, then if you can introduce some exercise breaks throughout the day.

Another good tip is reconsidered your commute to work. So, if you’re taking the train or if you even if you’re driving maybe you park five or ten minutes away from the office so you can get some walking into the, you know, into the office before you arrive. So, think about as many small incremental ways you can break up those long slabs of sitting time and also accumulate more and more movement time throughout the day so that you can then reduce that baseline of hours.

Then I think the last thing is just about behavior. You know, people anything new, definitely is in Australia, you know anything new people are a little bit hesitant then I want to be the first person that I want to put themselves out there, you know, they might feel embarrassed or say you know I’m too focused on my work I can’t change. I think given how strong and compelling the research is out there to show that we need to do this, we shouldn’t be afraid it’s, you know, it’s like smoking it’s generally accepted that it’s not good for your health and we understand that now so we’re trying to reduce that in society because we know that we’ll live longer and more be healthier and people around this will be better off.

So, it’s the same sort of thing it knows that there is enough evidence here to really back that up so not be afraid to break that habit and change that behavior. There’s a lot of the time that can be the thing which holds us back we know we need to do it we’ve got all the answers we’ve got the tips and then we sort of just slide back into our old way of doing it. So, it is really, really, beneficial for you to get Moving through today.

Kevin: Yeah and you know a couple of things off that you said like the cigarette smoking. I know at least in the United States there’s definitely been a cultural shift of, okay it’s normal everybody does it, there’s no negative or preconceived notions about people that smoke cigarettes in the 1960s 70s 80s whatever. Now it’s like there’s a little bit of a stigma attached to it and so culturally I know it’s shift I can’t speak as much for Europe and Australia. I’m not too sure, but I know in the states it’s definitely that has shifted cultural lead not obviously there’s still a lot of people who smoke cigarettes, but everybody knows, everybody knows the effects of it.

There’s a lot of things out there as far as research it’s just very, very, well known whereas with the desk sitting we need to keep on pushing that cultural shift and obviously with us and what I’m doing with the podcast and our massive transformative purpose really has been to try to increase that awareness. Try to you know demonetize and digitize the information to where people can access it readily, and you often know without it costing them anything. And then from there it just becomes habit formation, you know.

I guess it was extreme‚ÄĒ my parents both used to be cigarette smokers, but they quit 20 something years ago, and it was the hardest thing they ever did, and they just had to be very intentional about it, and they did it, and it’s the same thing for the desk jockey. It’s like we know now it’s bad there’s all the data, all the research, all of the case studies we see, and I see it in my practice. So, now it’s just ok except it it’s not good to start the cultural shift, start the habit changes, and then it will be second nature just like that person who has stopped cigarette smoking and now it’s normal for them not to smoke it.

Daniel:  Definitely.

Kevin:¬† Yeah, I want to piggyback that kind of little spiel there that I was running on with what our massive transformative purpose is and asked you that same question. If you’ve already answered, you can reiterate it but if not you know let us know what your massive transformative purpose is for the desk jockey.

Daniel: ¬†¬†For us, it’s quite simple it is to improve your health while you work.

Kevin:  Okay.

Daniel: ¬†So, you know we’re trying to imagine workplaces where you’re actually improving you’re getting healthier by going to work and it’s effortless, it’s integrated into your workday, you know, you don’t need a membership, you don’t have to pay extra for it, you don’t have to squeeze it into the morning when you’re trying to run around and, you know, do school drop-offs or anything like that you just go to work, and you’re improving your health as a result of going to work.

So, everything that we do is built around that. At the moment we require in you know an early stage little business we’ve got out, our book that we’ve published, we’ve got our standing desk that we’re releasing early next year as well. Both of these come back to that core philosophy, and the sort of the ecosystem we want to create for the work space and make it quite sort of tech-focused I’ll come back to the this mission of improving your health while you work so everything connects back to us that for us.

Kevin:¬† Yeah, what’s the name of that book I’ll put it in the show notes?

Daniel: ¬†It’s called The Sitting Epidemic.

Kevin: Okay.

Daniel:  The link for that is just sittingepidemic.com.

Kevin: Perfect I’ll put that in there as well.

Daniel:  Good.

Kevin:¬† Great that’ll be good, and I’m assuming that shows a bunch of good information for the desk jockey to consume and try to apply to their daily routine.

Daniel: ¬†Yeah definitely, and it also gives people the facts because what I found here when I started researching was that this information is out there but people need the motivation to change, and they need the facts to change, and I don’t think that’s getting communicated strongly enough out there or maybe, you know, it’s not presented in a way. I’m not sure what the reason is but what I see is that even when people have got standing desks, they revert back to sitting. But if they really truly understood, you know, the benefits that they could get from becoming more active, then I think that that transition would happen a lot more quickly.

So, there’s that there’s also a lot of information in there about how to use standing desks correctly and transition to them correctly. So, we work there’s a lot of occupational therapists put that together because often, you know, people are changing the same desks without any guidelines or rules on how to do it safely and that’s actually it’s quite important because if you do it incorrectly you’re never going to enjoy it and you could potentially do some serious injuries. So, you know, there’s a lot of do’s and don’ts and tips and that sort of thing. It’s quite an important thing to do well.

Kevin:¬† Can cover that a little bit I mean it’s getting to the point where I answer that question a lot for my patients and stuff but what are, you know, just a handful of do’s and don’ts that someone should really consider if they’re going to do this sit and stand desk.

Daniel: ¬†Sure, well one thing I noticed that the desks don’t really come with instructions, you know, it’s like here it is it goes up and down, and that’s it you’re on your own. So, when I started doing it I just ditch the chair, and I was doing you know eight hours a day which I would not recommend for people. So, people generally want to know what the number of hours is that they should be standing every day but its kind of like going to the gym membership and there was only one type of program that a personal trainer can prescribe to everybody who walks through the door.

So, it’s not like we can say everybody needs four hours a day or six hours a day or whatever it is it’s quite dependent on your physical condition and your physique and any other conditions you might have and that sort of thing. So, what we do say is to start off slowly, to change your posture regularly, so do take breaks when you’re standing or sitting every you know 20 to 40 minutes. Listen to your body if you do have any pain and signs of discomfort then take a break. One really important thing is to make sure you’ve got a flat surface and flat shoes. So, particularly for women using, you know, high heels or raised shoes it’s generally better if they have got flatter shoes because it doesn’t have as much of an impact throwing out their hips and their waist forward so that could put a little bit more strain.

And then the other thing is really to keep your feet and the weight distributed on your feet even, directly below your hips and make sure that your arms are at a right angle to the desk and that you’re looking straight ahead to the top of the monitor and slightly down into the screen. But some of the things you don’t want to do is, you definitely don’t want to start off doing an eight-hour day standing. You don’t want to set unrealistic goals of trying to you know to push through I must do 2-3 hours continuous standing; you don’t want to stand still and forget to change that will create stiffness in your body and particularly soreness in your legs and your calves. And you want to make sure that you have got a comfortable ergonomic setup before you jump into it.

So, I would just say start off by transitioning slowly every little bit does help, so you know you don’t have to go from 0 to 10 hours a day that’s not way, but I do find that you know when people are using them the best thing they’re on their feet it’s a great catalyst for movement because people are, you know, more flexible posture they can move around the office much, much, more easily when they take a call they might start pacing and it generally promotes those little incremental bits of movement we’re talking about earlier.

Kevin: Oh, absolutely and I’m glad you mentioned the weight shifting. A lot of people will like predominantly put most of the weight on say the right leg, and they do that too often it causes all kinds of other issues. So, that’s definitely a key point that sometimes I even forget to mention to my desk workers. So, I’m glad that you are proven it up that’s perfect. Tell us a little bit more about the design and what makes you guys cutting-edge and different with the standup desk. I’d like to definitely distill that a little bit.

Daniel: ¬†Oh, yeah this is kind of going back to that whole started out as a passion project I think we were talking about earlier. But essentially, where I started out was back when I had had those kinds of issues, and I wanted to change. I’ve made a little IKEA, DIY, standing desk thing, and brought it into the office I think I got that off Lifehacker which is like a $29 hack, which is a good place for people to start they want to give it a try brought that into the office and then after about six months it’s done to create a little bit of a bit of a movement and some other people were kind of getting into it, but we’re just using boxes or whatever we could find in the office, and then eventually we start to purchase standing desks and install them and that sort of thing.

What I noticed then over the next year was the adoption was quite low. So we had, you know, company and invested quite a lot of money in buying his products with roll them out and there was out of you know maybe 25 people there was four or five people who would use them every day, and the rest generally would leave them flat and just continue sitting. So, that’s where this kind of like design investigation this, you know, user sentence at a design process we went through started and we started thinking about how we could make a product as convenient as possible and seamless as possible for people to transition from sitting to standing.

So, this product we called MOVI. This product is a standing desk riser so goes onto your existing desk. It’s a seamless platform, it’s relatively slim, it’s just over an inch thick okay, and it’s a 45-inch-wide platform. All the sort of lifting mechanisms and all that so stuff is actually concealed underneath so it’s essentially like you’re putting a bench top on top of your existing desk that way you can just take something out of the box pop it on the desk in your own you’re ready to go. What we found some of the big differences was initially about space, not every office can convert to a full floor standing desk because of the cast, or they might not have space.

So, this product still gives you a large amount of workspace as I said that you know 45-inch-wide, clear, single level platform space. So, if you’re designing you might be, you know, talk to a lot of creatives like architects, interior designers, people in digital advertising, all that sort of thing where they need space on their desk. So, this gives you that convenience the other thing is the ergonomics this elevates up to nearly 18 inches high. So, for people who are as tall as six foot four, you get the correct ergonomic height when you’re standing and you do not sort of hunching forward. A lot of those other risers can generally be a quiet sort of you know low.

And the other thing too that really differentiates it is the lifting system so as a result of talking to a lot of health experts so we spoke to 20 different health experts in Australia and we covered you know spinal surgeons through two osteopaths through to exercise physiologists. One thing that kept coming up was the strain that lifting platforms can put on your lower back. So, we’ve created a quite a unique electric lifting system, so it allows the user to actually input their exact standing height, so we have a display on the on the desk which shows you the exact economic standing height that you need so based on your height you might need fourteen and a half inches of elevation from your existing desk you can enter that in preset that and then hit one button it elevates straight up and down. So you’re always getting the same the same standing height to get the best economics but there’s also no strain, you don’t have to manually lift anything you just hit the button and then elevate so if you do have a lower back condition you’re not going to aggravate it by you know adjusting between sitting and standing.

You know, we’ve used the natural bamboo benchtop we’re trying to create something that’s also has a sustainability value to exhaust something that’s really important to me and the design is quite different to what you see available on the market. So, you know, that’s been a long process it’s taken probably two to three years to go through the you know the design the creative side of the testing prototyping and all that sort of thing but we’re kicking that off into production at the moment, so that’ll be launching the early next year.

Kevin:¬† Perfect and if they’re interested in that how can they find you?

Daniel: ¬†Definitely yeah well all of our info is online at moviworkspace.com which is M-O- V-I workspace.com same as social media that’s our handle moviworkspace.com, and we’re generally publishing a lot of articles on LinkedIn and sharing a lot of good information that’s out there to help people move and have a more active healthy work day.

Kevin: Perfect, that sounds great, you know, I really appreciate the information I feel like you gave us a lot of good take-home information from the stand-up desk to the book that you mentioned and some of the stuff in there and obviously, the details you gave us as far as some of the concerns you’re having for the desk workers. So, I really appreciate that I know my desk jockeys appreciate that and I want to thank you for your time.

Daniel: ¬†Thanks very much Kevin, really appreciate it, and you’re doing a great thing I think you know there needs to be more and more awareness, so well done by pulling this together.