Standing is the new sitting!
More and more people are standing at their desks at work — to stay alert, reduce back ache and get productive.
The benefits are clear. Standing up (and being less sedentary) has been shown to:
- Reduce muscular aches and pains
- Increase alertness and focus
- Reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early mortality.
Yes that’s right. Early mortality! Even if you exercise regularly, sitting for more than 8 hours a day will increase your risk of dying before your time.
Dr Patch Adams describes mortality in this way (we only use credible Hollywood sources in this blog):
To die. To expire. Kick the bucket. Push up posies. To cash in your chips. To blink for an exceptionally long period of time.
Is prolonged sitting really worth it??
A tale of 3 standing desks
So, you want to setup a standing desk at work, but don’t know where to start?
Here’s 3 great options from people we know.
Build it from scratch
A few years ago I got sick and tired of sitting all day at work. I felt tired and lethargic every afternoon. So I built a standing desk and I’ve never looked back.
It took me about a week to construct and cost $250 in materials (plywood, screws and oil). I needed office storage so I included some shelves to store books, bags and the occasional stale sandwich!
I’m lucky to have an office with enough room for two desks (a standing and a sitting desk.) I’ve setup two keyboards and two screens that mirror each other. Whenever I feel like sitting, I sit. Whenever I feel like standing, I stand.
There’s lots of ways to build a standing desk. It’s a bit of an effort but each desk is unique and come with its own story!
Block it up
Mark Kuilenburg and Tom Smith (from design company Mark&Tom) wanted to stand more regularly at work. Instead of spending a lot of money, they decided to modify their existing desks.
Their solution? Cut wooden blocks and insert them into each steel leg to raise their desks to standing height.
“We decided to modify our current desks because we like them, they match our other furniture and our additions were a cheap alternative to expensive stand up desks. Also, we weren’t sure how we would go with them, so this meant we didn’t waste lots of money if we decided they weren’t working for us.”
Nowadays, Tom and Mark stand most of the time at work. And when they need a break from standing, they simply sit on comfy height adjustable stools. Elegant and simple!
Another great option is to buy a ready made standing desk.
I asked Tim Vaastra, a Tasmanian Government manager, about his experience of using an electrically operated sit-to-stand desk.
“Being at the start of my career in a largely office bound profession, it made sense to start the standing desk habit early. At first I used a cupboard with a retractable shelf to trial standing — to read files and reports — then took the step of investing in a Sit ‘N’ Stand desk” (by Thinking Ergonomix).
These desks are one of the many high quality products offered on the Australian market today. Tim’s desk is electrically operated and height adjustable and can be purchased for about $1000 (entry price).
“I think having an adjustable desk is preferable to a fixed standing desk — the movement between positions is probably part of the benefits of standing desks.”
Buying, making or modifying a desk for standing is easy.
With the benefits of increased health, alertness and productivity, there’s no more excuses! So what are you waiting for?
Do you use a standing desk at work? Tell us your story!
- Grunseit, A., et al (2013). Thinking on your feet: A qualitative evaluation of sit-stand desks in an Australian workplace. BMC Public Health, 13:365↵
- Van der Pleog, H., et al (2012). Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497 Australian adults. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(6):494↵
- Key finding from Van der Pleog, H., et al: “Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity… Public health programs should focus not just on increasing population physical activity levels but also on reducing sitting time, especially in individuals who do not meet the physical activity recommendation”, p.449↵