What Are the Advantages of a Standing Computer Desk?

There’s been a lot of talk online lately about the risks of sitting too much, something many of us with online businesses do. Sitting in front of the computer is the simplest way to get work done, after all. But it might be time to reconsider, and use a standing desk at least part of the day.

This article on WebMD discusses the problem. Sitting less than three hours a day may help you to add two years to your life… or to look at it the other way, sitting more than that may take those years off. It’s a risk factor, not a disease, so you aren’t guaranteed to have the problems mentioned, but it’s worth some thought. An article from CBS mentions that sitting more than 11 hours a day doubles your chance of dying from any cause. There’s plenty more information out there for those who are interested, even the study itself from the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Enter the Standing Desk

A standing desk is one of the simplest ways to quit sitting so much without cutting down on your productivity. But you don’t necessarily have to rush out now and buy one. I recommend finding a way to stand and work first, to give it a try. It will take some time to get used to standing all day, after all. It’s not a comfortable thing to do if you’re used to sitting a lot. I remember how easy it was to stand all day when I worked retail, but now it’s difficult.

Some people say they’re more productive with a standing desk too. They say they don’t feel so tired in the middle of the afternoon when they stand more. That sounds like a great benefit to me, as mid-afternoon is often a problem time for me.

You may be able to rig a trial standing desk on your own. Consider ergonomics as best you can. This isn’t an easy thing to do with laptops, where the screen and keyboard are together, but with a desktop you should try to have both the screen and the keyboard at comfortable working heights. There’s no point in getting carpal tunnel, neck strain or another repetitive stress injury just because you didn’t set things up right. That’s why in the long run I’d suggest buying a standing desk… it’s better to have something that’s designed correctly. That said, I’m still at the trying it out stage myself. I haven’t bought one yet.

You don’t have to buy a complete desk. There are setups that can go on top of your current desk rather than replacing the whole thing. There are plenty of complete standing desks available as well, and some have wheels so you can move around easily. The Safco Adjustable Workstation is a good choice, as you can adjust it to your own height and preferences. There are desks designed for laptops as well.

The Risks of Standing

Of course, no one option is perfect. There are risks to standing all day, although perhaps not so bad as sitting all day. That’s life, isn’t it? This article in Time Magazine notes that standing incorrectly all day may increase the chances of carotid atherosclerosis and varicose veins. There’s a balance you should keep to in the work you do in each position.

Another Alternative

The article in Time makes a good suggestion if you don’t want a standing desk but want to avoid the health risks of sitting so much. Get up more often! About every 20 minutes, just move around a little. Heavy exercise not required.

With kids around, this can be easy. I know I have days where my kids barely let me sit at all. Then again, you may also feel more like just sitting when they’re leaving you to work because you need to be productive. You’ll have to really make an effort to make this work.

Of course, I can’t promise you any health benefits or issues at all, standing, sitting, getting up regularly or doing the samba. I’ll leave that to the doctors. Just the same, it’s well worth figuring out what’s going to make the difference in your lifestyle.

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2 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Hi, thank you for this article. I have been reading a lot lately about desks where you can stand up. These seem to be gaining popularity with some companies wanting to keep their employees from falling asleep too.

  2. I really *really* want one of these set ups for my desk at home. It would never fly in my office, they are far too .. I don’t know, conservative? But I hate my desk at home and am thinking about replacing it.

    I’ve also seen those treadmill desks for walking while you work. I like that idea too but it seems like it might be hard to focus. I have my treadmill next to my desk in the basement currently and I just take breaks when I need to get up and move. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to do so, though.