What you need to know about standing desks

To counteract the ill effects of sedentary (from the Latin sedentārius: sitting) jobs, manufacturers are beginning to offer standing desks. Actually, they aren’t new. According to Wikipedia, standing desks were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries in the homes of the rich.

Furthermore, some of the world’s most talented writers wrote/write while standing. We’re talking Hemingway, Nabokov, Lewis Carroll,  and Thomas Wolfe.

Novelist Philip Roth, a great living writer, stands at a lectern to write and paces while he thinks, claiming to walk half a mile for every page he writes.

Who knows? Maybe writing is the one thing they did differently that helped them manifest their genius. It certainly seems to be better for the brain than sitting (see my previous post mentioning that movement of the sacrum pumps cerebro-spinal fluid, which nourishes the brain).

Perhaps before making the switch, you’re wondering how many more calories you would burn by standing instead of sitting. Here’s a calculator where you enter your weight and hours worked to find out the extra calories burned in a workday at a standing desk versus sitting. I’d burn 221 more calories per day. That’s very significant. I could lose a few extra pounds and then eat a little more!

Hmm. Could desk jobs be the real reason for the obesity problem in our society?

Adapting to a standing desk may take a week or so. Your feet may hurt from standing all day. You may be extra tired at first. Some people who’ve made the switch swear by a cushioned mat, like this writer, who had an adjustable IKEA Jerker desk (unfortunately discontinued) and switched it to standing mode. She writes about adjusting to it, which took her three days, and later using a mat and a footrest.

Of course, the least expensive way to create a standing desk is to simply put boxes, crates, or shelves on top of your regular desk and arrange your computer on them. You can create different levels for your monitor and keyboard if you like.

Personally, I’d put my big monitor at eye level and place an external keyboard at elbow level or slightly lower.

IKEA sells the least expensive standing desk that I found online, the Fredrik workstation for $119, shown below. There’s a wider version for $149. Assembly is required, of course.

Then there are the IKEA hackers — people who repurpose IKEA products to make what they want. Here’s an inexpensive conversion using PVC pipe.

Here’s another hack, the wide standing desk.

This article shows a couple of adjustable-height desks that allow users to flip a switch to adjust the height. This sounds great, for $700+.

Finally, here is a website devoted to creating your own treadmill desk. If you already have a treadmill, apparently you can do this for as little as $39, a significant savings over buying the top-of-the-line Steelcase Walkstation at $4,399, shown below.

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