Lifehacker has a post about a reader, Matthew King, who took things into his own hands and created a standing desk workspace for himself. To accomplish this, he took the popular IKEA standing desk hack and modified it to suit his own needs.
You can see that he has both sitting and standing spaces at which to work, which is what I am also currently using. That way if you get tired, or want to eat while working, etc., you can sit down without going through the trouble of raising/lowering the desk, or going to another room. Great work on the wire tray under the desk to hold the cabling–looking good. Just goes to show you that you don’t necessarily need to spend $750 and up on a pre-constructed standing desk.
There’s no need to sink a couple of paychecks into getting started with a standing and working lifestyle. Along with the previously reviewed QuikLok Laptop Pedestal, there are ways to create your own full-size standing desk on a budget.
Sure, you could go the ultra-cheap route and use a wooden door, lay it on a kitchen table, and prop it up with phone books, but many people will be looking at creating something a bit more aesthetically pleasing. One well-publicized way of doing this is to use parts from everyone’s favorite hip, low-cost home furnishing retailer, IKEA. IKEAHackers.com has posted a great step-by-step guide with pictures on how to go about getting it done.
Looks as if someone has gone ahead and created an online timer application that can track how long you’ve been standing (or doing anything else, I suppose).
The app is free, links up with your Google account and is pretty simple to use–click button to start, press button again to stop. There is even a handy graph that the program creates to tell you how long you are standing every day.
Medical Billing & Coding has developed an interesting and informative infographic detailing the cons of sitting at a desk all day.
Some of the more interesting statistics include:
- We’re sitting down an average of 9.3 hours per day
- Sitting 6+ hours a day can increase the risk of death by up to 40%
- People with “sitting jobs” have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease
- Sitting at an angle of 135 degrees puts less strain on your neck and back
Even when using a standing desk you may the need for some sort of laptop stand (if using a laptop computer, of course). This could be to raise the laptop up to be more level with you gaze, or to put the keyboard on a slight slope to make for easier typing, or to allow more ventilation to keep your laptop cool and extend its life.
Although standing definitely has a number of benefits over sitting all day–such as increased circulation, increased body movement (burning calories), and less back and neck strain–there are some downsides to standing for long periods of time.
The most obvious downsides are apparent within a few hours of switching to a standing desk: a sore lower back and feet. Your body has been used to sitting for a good chunk of the day, and it takes some time to train your body to get used to a new posture. Beyond that though, there are some things to watch out for when spending extended chunks of your day on your feet:
Standing desks have made a few appearances over at the New York Times as of late.
The first article, “Stand Up While You Read This!“, details the dangers of sitting for too long and the benefits of making the change to a standing desk and getting more exercise and movement into your everyday routine. It goes into detail regarding the medical reasons that inactivity is bad for the body, and the metabolic rate changes associated with it.
So what’s wrong with sitting?
…the first is that sitting is one of the most passive things you can do. You burn more energy by chewing gum or fidgeting than you do sitting still in a chair. Compared to sitting, standing in one place is hard work. To stand, you have to tense your leg muscles, and engage the muscles of your back and shoulders; while standing, you often shift from leg to leg. All of this burns energy.
The second article, “Can’t Sit Too Long? There’s a Desk for That“, reviews a few custom standing desks created by companies such as GeekDesk and Anthro. The author describes hsi experience with standing desks and the transfer from standing to sitting.
…I discovered the adjustable-height desk. These so-called “sit/stand” models are equipped with an electric motor that lets them shift from chair height to person height at the push of a button. Unfortunately, they’re regarded as specialty furniture. Sit/stand desks tend to be expensive, hard to find and not very easy to test in person. That’s too bad. I got my hands on an adjustable-height desk a few weeks ago, and I can’t stop raving about it.
USAToday recently published an article entitled “The longer you sit, the shorter your life”, based on a research study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study followed a group of 123,216 volunteers over a period of 14 years to measure the effect of large spans of time of sitting coupled with little exercise upon one’s health. Unsurprisingly, it found that the more you sat and the less you exercised the higher the occurrence of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
In the study, people were more likely to die of heart disease than cancer. After adjusting for a number of risk factors, including body mass index (BMI) and smoking, women who spent six hours a day sitting had a 37% increased risk of dying versus those who spent less than three hours a day on their bottoms. For men the increased risk was 17%.
Exercise, even a little per day, did tend to lower the mortality risk tied to sitting, the team noted. However, sitting’s influence on death risk remained significant even when activity was factored in.
On the other hand, people who sat a lot and did not exercise or stay active had an even higher mortality risk: 94% for women and 48% for men.
To view the entire article head over to USAToday.com.
The first few days and weeks of standing half the day or more (at my standing laptop pedestal in the beginning) really took its toll on my legs and lower back. The fact that it was completely unlike what I had spent the better part of my career doing (sitting) was throwing my body a few curve balls. I would often have to sit down and take a break every once in a while when my feel, legs, or back started aching.
Standing next to my desk wearing slippers or just socks definitely didn’t help matters. I’m guessing that the added cushioning from a good pair of shoes may have allowed me to go for longer periods without taking a break. Instead of wearing my shoes inside the house on my carpet though, I decided to shop around for a good standing “anti-fatigue” mat.
The February 2011 issue of Consumer Reports had an article entitled “Lose Weight, Stay Active” on pages 28-29. Tip number six describes how the simple act of standing at your desk can be an effective way to burn twice as many calories as sitting alone.
“When we’re sitting, we are burning almost as few calories as we do when we’re sleeping,” said Marc T. Hamilton, Ph.D., a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. “Sitting too much is hazardous to your health in a different way than exercising too little.”
Hamilton is a researcher in the new field of inactivity physiology, the study of what happens when we’re, well, just sitting there. Research shows that the more you sit, the higher your risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. That seems to be true even for people who get the prescribed 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
Read the full article over at the Consumer Reports web site.