I Switched to a Standing Desk

In my constant aim of physical development (three years and over 50lbs ago, I tipped the scales at 250 lbs.+), I’ve been reviewing my daily behavior and kept coming across blurbs about the dangers of long periods of sitting (i.e. what most of us do at work).

Daily Infographic compiled the best data on the dangers of sitting extensively with this graphic (click to expand — it’s a beautiful infographic and definitely worth reading):

There is a lot of data coming in on the dangers of sitting and the benefits of standing at work.  Time Magazine has this list:

  • A 2010 editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that those who sit for prolonged periods have a higher risk of disease than those who move a muscle every now and then in a non-exercise manner, such as walking up the stairs to grab a cup of coffee.
  • Researchers at the American Cancer Society found that even if you exercise nearly every day, those health benefits can be undone if you spend the rest of your time on your keister.
  • Scientists at the University of Missouri have found that the act of sitting seems to shut off the circulation of a fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase.
  • A study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that sitting for long stretches, more than six hours a day, can make someone at least 18% more likely to die from diabetes, heart disease and obesity than those sitting less than three hours a day.
  • Scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana analyzed the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years, and found that people who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks.


This list alone started my contemplation.  My craving to constant life-hack was almost at full throttle.  Then I saw a great photo of my hero, Ernest Hemingway, at his standing desk:

That was all it took. So I converted my home office desk and work office desk each to a standing desk.  In both locations, I already had two great desks so I couldn’t spend the money to swap out for completely new desks.  My focus became how to increase the height of the items I interact with on my desks (primarily my Macs).  It took a bit and experimentation with different heights (specifically the height of the keyboard), but I finally arrived at exactly the right levels for zero strain and best ease of use.

Note, I use my two offices for completely different purposes– one reflects the left side of my brain and the other the right side of my brain I’m very distinctly both of these. I’ve discovered that the greatest results comes from having environments designed to cater to these two sides.  I’ve found it’s impossible for me to create an environment that serves both sides and still allows me to get stuff done.  My office at work is designed for pure management and productivity.  I meet with people, organize, plan, etc.  It is a very functional and aesthetic environment.  My office at home is designed to be my creative cave . . . I design there, draw, write, dream, etc.

The one at home has my iMac for design so it required a larger base. I purchased a keyboard stand, replaced the legs with 6″ posts from Home Depot, and there you are. Okay, it looks like crap, but its functional.  Also, it’s my home office– this is what the deep recesses of my mind looks like.

My work office required a bit more focus on aesthetics. However, since I only use my laptop or iPad there, I didn’t need as much space. So a converted lapdesk and base from Target, a bit of velcro, and I have a black matching standing desk.  Yes, I have a wall-size mural of Superman.  Yes, it is the coolest office I know.

Total cost for both conversions: $65.


I’m still two weeks out from the beginning of the experiment but I’ve already noticed some significant changes in my routine (excuse the lack of scientific rigor in these results):

  1. Increased Productivity: Since I’m standing, I’m quicker to tackle tasks that require leaving my desk. Simply in a constant state of movement seems to pick up my drive to staying going.
  2. Lessened ‘Net Surfing Breaks: It’s tough to drift into the zone of the internet distractions when you’re standing.
  3. No 3pm Energy Drop: That afternoon slump is gone. Energy is higher.
  4. Lessened Back Pain: This was an immediate change!
  5. Lessened Desire to Snack: Honestly, this was a shock. I thought constantly moving would increase my appetite. Nope, it’s reduced. It seems my body was needing energy and where movement would’ve worked, I snacked.

I’ll tell you in a few weeks if there’s been any further weight reduction. Simple conclusion: two hours of conversion work, $65 of supplies, and no chance I’ll ever go back to my old desk option.

Author: jasonbatt

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