Discovering the Standing Desk (by accident)

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See how many hours a day I can sustain this posture

See how many hours a day I can sustain this posture

As I write these words I am proudly standing at my new workstation. Having spent the last 2 months literally 10 hours on my butt every day, I got sick and tired of being enslaved to my fancy chair. I had planned to construct a standing desk a few weeks ago but hadn’t had a chance so far.

Today by pure coincidence, I discovered that the same desk I have been sitting at for more than two years is adjustable in height. Immediately, I ramped it up to maximum height and got started by piling up books beneath my monitor to achieve my desired height. The end result is pretty neat considering I didn’t spend a penny. My initial plan was to build a standing desk following the IKEA recipe as seen HERE.

 

Why bother with a Standing Desk?

There is a number of reasons that are responsible for me to abandon my regular seated position when doing daytime work at the computer:

1) From January this year I have had an unpleasant tension in my right shoulder that I hope to fix by adopting the standing position.

2) Human beings are not biologically designed to spend a better part of the day in a hunched over position. Standing is probably not optimal (walking appears to be most beneficial) but it’s definitely a huge leap forward when compared to passive sitting.

3) I want to spend less time at the computer by working more efficiently – less mindless browsing = less time wasted! When sitting in a comfy chair we tend to stay in it for much longer than is healthy. When standing, the strain in my legs will pretty quickly remind you to close the stupid Youtube video I had been watching and start working on what’s important for the day.

4) As we head into summer season I want to spend more time outside. My computer can be a big obstacle to that and sitting is definitely a bad influence on me. I want to get my computer work done and get the hell outside.

5) In the evening, I will be more tired due to the standing up for hours. I have been going to bed rather late recently (~12AM). Time for a change (i.e. 11 PM latest). Being more tired will hopefully be useful for getting to bed earlier.

6) Although I am not lethargic during the day and generally don’t suffer from late-afternoon tiredness, it’s always cool to have more energy and be more awake. Standing up will hopefully eliminate the sluggishness caused by too much sitting.

 

Outlook: Negative Side Effects

Any change inevitably entails a handful of negative side effects. I expect to have sore and heavy legs for the first few days. Also, I am curious whether I will experience any pain in my arms from typing in an unusual position. We’ll see if my knee joints will be sore after loading them with my bodyweight for most of the day.

I will keep you posted on the positive and negative side effects of my Standing Desk Experiment. I will let you know how long before I crumble and surrender to the comfort of my chair.

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  • http://twitter.com/CriticalMAS Michael Allen Smith

    If you are having shoulder pain on the right side (your mouse hand), I HIGHLY recommend getting a vertical mouse. It works. My pain is gone.

    http://criticalmas.com/2012/09/embrace-the-vertical-mouse/

    My standing desk so far for me has been a mixed experiment. I’m still trying to dial in the right amount.

  • Stephan R

    MAS,

    thanks a lot for the tip! Will give it a shot when finances allow.
    Never thought about my hand positioning on the mouse potentially causing a problem.

  • Kyle Marvich

    ive been wanting a standing desk for a while but currently i actually have no desk. do you know the brand of your desk? it looks very nice.

  • Stephan R

    Kyle,

    I am currently living in a student dorm in Germany and this desk was part of the room furniture. I have been searching for a brand sticker on it but couldnt find one – sorry!

    Why not just get a relatively cheap regular desk and then adding the IKEA standing desk solution to it? Or if you can spare the money, get the most optimal solution of all: WALKING TREADMILL DESK

    Who knows whether I will still be doing the Standing Desk gig in a few years time.. :)

  • http://twitter.com/ZestHomeFitness Zest Home Fitness

    Hi Stephan, I’ve been using a home-made standing desk for about 6 weeks for basically the same reasons you gave in your blog. I got use to it within 2 days and now feel much more energetic and active.

    However, one word of warning – from the photo it seems that both your screen and keyboard and mouse are too low. See the graphic I’ve enclosed.

  • Stephan R

    Zest Home Fitness,

    thanks for sharing your experience and the picture.

    I am aware of the problem that my screen and keyboard are slightly too low. Trouble is that the current table height is already maxed out. Need to find a solution for the keyboard to get it roughly 10 cm higher.

    Just curious, does your calcaneus (=heel bone) ache a bit from all the standing?

    I have also noticed that I tend to use one leg predominantly to support my body weight while the other is deloaded. Similar experience?

  • http://www.jpofficeworkstations.com.au/ Caroline Webber

    I recently purchased a standing desk for work and although I am still getting used to it (it certainly isn’t something you take to like a duck to water!) I am noticing other benefits that I would not have initially even thought of. For one thing, I am spending less time doing time wasting activities like surfing the web or looking at Facebook. I put this down to the fact that I am not as ‚comfortable‘ and the act of standing makes me focus on specific work related tasks.

    I found a great article on computer related ergonomics blog.jpofficeworkstations.com.au/2013/03/healthycomputingguide.html (which was the initial reason I purchased the standing desk) which really reminded me how important it is – and whilst sitting I always tended to slouch in my chair.

    On a lighter note Stephan, this infographic here is a fun (and yet serious) look at why you should definitely be using a standing desk:

    http://www.howtogeek.com/93822/sitting-is-killing-you-infographic/

    • Stephan R

      Caroline,

      appreciate you sharing your experience and the links.

      I can only agree with you – standing for long isn’t fun at the beginning. However, now the soles of my feet seem to have adapted to the increased load of standing up.

      Also, I have found that I tend to offset all of the time-wasting internet time to the evening when I allow myself to sit down – during the day being productive standing up. I dont have Facebook or Twitter etc which definitely helps with not letting yourself „loose on the internet“ :)

      Another thing I noticed at the beginning that I tended to support my bodyweight on only one leg at a time – not exactly ideal!! Working to fix this mis-habit.

  • rich

    hey dude nice blog. Desk ergonomics say your arm should be approx 90 degrees. Have you heard of Kelly Starrett? His Leopard book is awesome and he has another coming out soon deskboundbook.com
    keep up the blog!

    • http://www.biohacks.net/ Stephan R

      I realise that my standing desk isn’t ideal ergonomics wise. I have to fix that.
      K Star is fantastic. Got to meet him personally last November in SF. He’s doing a lot of good work. Thx for pointing me to his new book. Cheers