If you want to improve your health and well-being, there’s a simple thing you can do: stand up. This is especially true if you have a desk job like I do. When I get into writing blog posts like this one, the world just falls away. Before I know it, I’ve been sitting in the same position for hours, literally hours. The only thing that snaps me back to reality? Needing to use the bathroom or my dogs nudging me for a walk.
Turns out that sitting on a regular basis — in a car for a road trip or at work — isn’t good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you have prolonged periods of sitting on a regular basis, you may make yourself more susceptible to unhealthy outcomes, such as:
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- Increased blood pressure.
- High blood sugar.
- Excess body fat around the waist.
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels.
So, whenever possible, I try to work at a standing desk.
Building a standing desk
In some of my homes, this has simply been a bar-height kitchen counter. In other homes, I’ve made a standing desk, either on top of treadmill — you might call it an exercise desk or walking desk — or with an adjustable height table. Other writers and bloggers I know have done something similar.
Take Sage Scott of Everyday Wanderer. She bought a tall table with wheels that she can roll over an existing treadmill.
“I can easily roll the table into place perpendicular to the walking surface,” she explained. “I walk at a steady 1.1 mph speed most of my work day. The only time I turn off the tread and stand still is when I’m on video calls.”
So, her standing desk can become a walking desk when she wants or go back to a standing desk as well.
Adjustable height table
Another option is to make a stationary, standing desk in the form of an adjustable height, freestanding table. That’s the approach Laura Sampson of Little House Big Alaska took.
“My desk is adjustable. The whole thing lifts up,” she explained. “I plan to buy a treadmill that will go under it so I can also walk while I work. It will be really helpful in bad weather to get my steps in every day.”
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I spied just such an adjustable table at Costco last week. Price? $299. This could easily be used as a standing desk. It goes from a sitting desk to being 47 inches tall.
Forty-seven inches is pretty much the height of a bar countertop in a kitchen. Being a shortie, that would work perfectly for me.
If you don’t have a Costco membership, you can find adjustable height desks on Amazon, too. Plus, you can filter by the height you need your desk to be. However, they’re about twice the price as the ones you can get at Costco. Here’s a way to save on a Costco membership.
The best deal on a Costco Membership right now is through Groupon. When you sign up, you’ll get your one-year membership plus a $40 Costco Digital Shop Card for free.
In case you didn’t know, the Costco Shop Card is the store’s gift card. You can use it in store or online.
This offer is for new Costco memberships only or for former Costco members whose membership expired more than 18 months ago. So, if you’ve moved, there wasn’t a Costco nearby and you let your membership lapse for more than 18 months, you’re good to go to sign up for this deal again!
Terms and Conditions
- After purchase you’ll receive an email from Costco confirming your membership details. To pick up your membership card, stop by the membership counter at any Costco location and bring a copy of that email with your photo ID. Incentive will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
- You’re receiving a One-Year Costco Gold Star Membership
- A membership card for the Primary Cardholder and one additional Household Card for anyone living at the same address, over the age of 16
- A $40 Digital Costco Shop Card (valid at Costco locations and Costco.com)
- Valid only for new members and those whose previous memberships (Primary and Household) have been expired for at least 18 months or more.
- Please allow up to two hours to receive your confirmation email from Costco. You must have either your Costco or Groupon confirmation email to receive your physical membership card at a Costco location.
- A physical membership card is not required to shop online or receive your incentives.
- Incentive includes a $40 Digital Costco Shop Card
- Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed within 2 weeks after sign-up to qualifying members.
- Digital Costco Shop Card will be emailed to the email address provided by the Primary Member at time of sign-up.
- Not valid for the renewal of an existing Costco membership.
- All sales final.
- $40 Digital Costco Shop Card is not redeemable for cash, except as required by law. Digital Costco Shop Cards are not accepted at Costco Gas Stations, Car Washes, or Food Court Kiosks.
Again, this a Groupon-only deal for a Costco membership.
Other warehouse club memberships
Perhaps you prefer to shop at another warehouse club because it is more convenient to where you live than Costco is. Good news: Both BJs and Sam’s Club have Groupon deals right now for memberships. Plus, both tend to have gas stations where members can get a cheaper price when filling up the gas tank.
Adjustable-height laptop stands
Another option are adjustable-height laptop stands that sit on a regular desk. When you have your computer equipment on one of these, you can raise the height of the stand so you can go from sitting to standing without interrupting your workflow.
Here are a few adjustable laptop stands that are affordable and which you can find on Amazon.
Being comfortable while standing
When it comes to setting up a standing or walking desk, it isn’t just about getting out of your chair. For starters, you want to make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes that can support your being on your feet all day.
When I started working barefoot — because I didn’t want to wear shoes inside the house — I found that my plantar fasciitis began flaring up. So, I made one pair of sneakers or tennis shoes by “inside” pair and that’s what I wore while standing or walking while I worked.
Another option: invest in an anti-fatigue mat like chefs use. You’ve probably seen the commercials from Weather Tech about how they now have anti-fatigue mats along with car mats and liners — we have the latter in our Subaru Forester. You can buy Weather Tech anti-fatigue mats on Amazon.
Ergonomics of a standing desk
Ergonomics play a big part in setting you up for a comfortable workstation. That is, you want a computer setup that actually feels good for you, head to toe, much like a kitchen knife that is comfortable to hold and won’t leave your hands or wrist hurting.
Derrek Wiedeman, an engineer by training, is a co-creator of the StandMore desk. This desk looks more like a tripod than a workstation. It is designed to be portable, so you can take it with you if you want to move around your office or if you’re working on the road. It’s available on Amazon, and I’ve included a picture here.
Wiedeman offered the following tips for setting up an ergonomically correct standing desk. It’s important to point out that these tips are based on a traditional computer setup, with a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse.
If you use a laptop, you may want to invest in a monitor, wireless keyboard and Bluetooth mouse in order to achieve an optimum setup. I’ve done this with my setup, since I work on a MacBook Pro laptop. Now I have a portable Mac keyboard and a Mac Magic Mouse.
Monitor, keyboard and mouse arrangements
When deciding at which height to have your desk, start with the monitor. Ideally, you want to be looking straight ahead and have your eye level fall somewhere between the top and the middle of the screen or monitor. This should help reduce neck issues. The monitor shouldn’t be so far away that you have to lean forward or squint to see it. At the same time it shouldn’t be so close that it causes eye strain.
Next, you want to ensure that your keyboard and mouse are positioned in such a way that you aren’t hunched over or don’t have to reach to use them. Wiedeman suggested setting the height of the keyboard and mouse surface with the following in mind:
- Your shoulders are relaxed.
- Your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Your wrists are straight and can lie flat.
Finally, don’t forget about your feet. “Position your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other,” Wiedeman said. “Distribute your weight evenly on both feet, avoiding excessive pressure on one foot. Consider using a footrest to support your feet and promote a more comfortable stance.”
Health benefits of standing to work
Now that you know the health risks associated with sitting to work, it’s important to point out the health benefits of standing to work. According to office furniture design company Steelcase, maker of some of the first standing desks for offices, a long-term survey of employees using standing workspaces found the following positive effects:
- Nearly half reported a significant reduction in upper back, shoulder or neck discomfort.
- Two-thirds reported increased productivity after one year.
- Two-thirds said height-adjustable desks positively impacted their health outside of the workplace.
Those surveyed also reported feeling that they could concentrate better at work. And, overall, they said they were more active, refreshed, awake, limber and energetic.
Making an exercise desk
If you’re not coordinated enough to walk or stand while you work, consider how Lara Clevenger of Lara Clevenger approached an exercise desk: she got a bike desk. Literally, a desk mounted on top of a spin bike, just like the one I found on Amazon.
Finally, if you have a Peloton bike, there are even laptop trays that sit on the bike handlebars and hold a computer. Here’s a picture of the one I use on my Peloton bike.
I got the laptop tray from Top Form Design. They make these for multiple brands of exercise equipment and also multiple types, including the Peloton Tread. If you decide to get one of these laptop trays, please use code LEAH10 at checkout to save 10% on your purchase.
Who wouldn’t want to feel more refreshed and energetic after working all day? Hopefully, these outcomes convince you that by using a standing, walking or exercise desk, you can practice self-care and still be productive in your job.
Also, if getting your steps each day is important, then adding a Walking Pad would be a great idea. These are under desk treadmills specifically designed to be paired with standing desks. Unlike a traditional treadmill, the Walking Pad does not have any handles. Plus, they fold up and slide under furniture so your office doesn’t become cluttered.
Let me know if you have any questions about making a standing desk, the benefits of having one or anything else.
Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.