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Former Attorney “Stands Up” for the Idea of Less Sitting

Entrepreneur Promotes Healthier Lifestyle at Work

Kathleen Hale, a self-proclaimed “reformed sitter,” says she's on a mission to "help others live a healthier, stronger, and more energized life."

Hale is the CEO and co-founder of Rebel Desk, a company that sells adjustable-height standing desks. She also founded The ChairFree Project, which highlights the health benefits of standing vs. sitting in all aspects of life.

After a workday at her treadmill desk, the former lawyer and mother of two gets on the floor with her kids and then dines with them at a tall table, where she stands while they use high stools.

Hale cites research conducted by the BBC and the University of Chester in 2013 that suggests a person can burn 150 calories a day, or more than 30,000 calories (or 8 pounds of fat) a year, by standing for three hours of each workday. In addition, a review published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 2014 found that sitting is associated with higher risks of colon cancer, lung cancer and endometrial cancer.

The Active Workplace

“Our bodies were designed to move,” says Hale, who left her own law practice to co-found Rebel Desk with her husband in the spring of 2013. “When we sit in a chair all day, it doesn’t know what to do.”

Not to mention how terrible it feels to finally peel yourself out of your chair after a long day at work, she says, adding that those “ugh” feelings inspired her career change. What once served as a status symbol of “I’ve made it” – the big, cushy office chair – was now something she couldn’t wait to cast off.

When she began a law practice with some other attorneys, Hale says, she had a chance to think about her own office space. “It felt empowering to realize I could work a different way besides being stuck in my chair all day.”

Hale’s first treadmill desk was hacked together from an inexpensive running treadmill and a standard desk. “I tested the concept, and even though the treadmill was very loud, it had no cushion, and the control console was gigantic, I loved it.”

Hale and her husband decided to learn more about the market and tout the benefits of the “active workplace.”

Ditch Your Office Chair

Inspired to get on your feet, too? After investing in a standing desk and/or a treadmill, Hale says her customers often ease in with 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break, and have anti-fatigue mats and sensible shoes to make it easier on the feet.

Hale says standing has boosted her productivity.

“If I need to write something, I know that if I’m walking on my treadmill, the words are going to roll off my fingertips.” Hale says that her most productive, comfortable pace is about 1.5 mph.

She says some people tell her that standing has a significant effect on their moods: “It’s similar to a runner’s high," she says. "You start feeling those benefits in your mood and your workflow, so you want to keep doing it.”

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