*UPDATE* January 9, 2011 – I no longer use a stand up desk, because I've found a set up that I've been using for over a year now and can't imagine anything more comfortable or more ergonomic… From a Stand Up Desk to the Perfect Chair – How and Why?
Actually, that's not completely true — it just makes for a clever and catchy title. In fact, I don't know how I feel about my stand up desk just yet. Right now, it's nothing more than my laptop stacked on top of two cardboard boxes that my whey protein was shipped in, all teetering nervously on top of my regular old "sit down" desk. This is my debut post as a Standing Desk Guy.
Why Would You Want to Stand Up at Your Desk?
Well, depending on the results of this test run, I may be joining you right back in Chairsville, at which point, I'll be asking the same question. But, there are a few reasons I'm seeing if I have what it takes to master the art of prolonged standing:
- Posture – Improving my posture is my primary reason for this little experiment. I'm certainly not the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but if there's a way to improve any aspect of my "total mind and body fitness," then I'm all for giving it a try. In fact, a few months ago, studies challenged an age-old idea, saying sitting up straight is actually bad for your back. Standing will ensure that I never slouch in a chair and will keep my core active throughout the day.
- Productivity – Another added benefit of standing is increasing your focus and concentration. It doesn't matter if you are studying for MBA programs at a college library or at a work desk from 9 to 5 everyday. Standing doesn't allow you to slump over at your desk and mindlessly wander the web, when you should be doing some real work. There's something about standing up that makes you want to get more done. Of course, it's entirely possible, as standing at your desk becomes second nature, you could revert right back to spending one or…60 minutes watching the latest YouTube videos instead of studying for your online masters degree programs or making pie graphs for your job.
- Calories – This is actually last on my list of reasons, because I'm an active person who gets a lot of exercise, but it's still nice to know that standing burns one more calorie per minute than sitting. That doesn't sound like much, but consider this: If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, that's 2,400 minutes, which means you could be burning 2,400 extra calories every week or nearly 10,000 calories per month just by using a stand-up desk. It doesn't compare to getting up to a mountain and doing a ski rental, but it's still something that can keep you healthy and burn some calories daily that you weren't burning before.
Tips for Prolonged Standing
If you're not used to it, adjusting to long periods of standing can be tough at first. Here are some tips I've learned while researching the wonderful world of Stand Up Desks:
- Knees Bent – Many people lock their knees and completely straighten their lower legs while standing. This puts a lot of strain on your bones, ligaments, and hamstrings. The key is to keep your knees just slightly bent to relieve most of that pressure. You don't need to get down into a full squat here, just barely short of locked.
- Move – Even if you aren't willing to go the full fledged standing route, this is important when sitting or standing at your desk. Every hour or so, you should stand up and move a little bit. It doesn't have to be much, and you can multi-task, such as pacing around your office while talking on the phone (standing adds bass to your voice for added presence also). It's even easier if you're already standing, just shift your weight back and forth and move your feet a little while you work.
- Hang In There – Most admit that the first week of standing up at your desk isn't pleasant. Your body needs time to adjust, and you may feel your back and core muscles begging you to stop the madness. But, I've been promised that your body will adjust, and in fact, become stronger and better stabilize your core as a result.
If I can hang in there, then I will convert to a more professional arrangement, but if you are willing to take the plunge, I would suggest starting with a makeshift setup first to make sure it's for you. All it takes is a few well positioned boxes and/or shelves, and you're good to go. Just make sure the top of the monitor is at your eye level and that your arms are bent about 90 degrees when typing on the keyboard.
I'll keep you updated, and let me know if any of you have used, are currently using, or are going to use a stand up desk. So, pull up a chair, then put it right back where you found it!
*UPDATE* (August 6, 2007) – It's been nearly a month since I wrote this article, and I can safely say, "I Can Stand My Stand Up Desk."
Click here to read my experience, plus a video on how to try one yourself for free.