NASA funds 3D food printer, pizza is the first item on the menu | ReTag.in http://t.co/bfFH6Np7TV
Most Popular Ever
- Experiment: Stay in EU/Schengen for More than 3 Months (How-To) 63 comment(s)
- Sleep Hack: Fall Asleep in 2 Minutes or Less 10 comment(s)
- Google+, A Programmer’s First Experience (Loaded with Screenshots) 138 comment(s)
- Why You Should (Not) Have Your Own Mobile App 33 comment(s)
- Experiment: Sleep Less, Do More 30 comment(s)
Ever since I first saw posts like this one on Lifehacker, I wanted to try switching to a standing desk. Rumor has it that it’s better for energy levels, posture, and cures cancer. Well, maybe not the last one. I travel a lot so I frequently don’t have control over my workspace, but the last time I settled down for 8 weeks I decided to give it a try. It may not be pretty, but to the left you can see my makeshift standing desk.
All I did was to raise my corner desk using a couple nailed together 2×4 boards and then stack up books for a super-cheap monitor/mouse/keyboard stand. It was a simple and cost-effective way to give a standing desk a shot.
Update from 1 month after the experiment: I have cobbled together another makeshift standing desk at my apartment in France. After a couple weeks of crappy apartment/hotel desks I could not stand it any longer! My posture was regressing, my back hurting and I was feeling crappy. I can now say I doubt I’ll ever switch back to a regular desk. Sure, I’ll sit down for a bit to rest – but I mostly stand. I had not originally considered the potential calorie-burning benefits of a standing desk, but it seems that standing burns 12-30 more Calories per hour, or about 96-240 per 8 hour work day (depending on your body weight). This translates to 0.14 – 0.33 lbs burned per week (assuming 40 hour work weeks and no extra food!). Not a bad extra benefit for a lifestyle change that also makes you feel better!
Goal: to increase productivity and energy levels
Technique & Tools:
- A desk raised such that my arms are at a 90 degree angle when using the mouse/keyboard and my eyes are parallel with the middle of the screen while standing.
- Vibram 5 Finger Shoes
- An old pillow (to put on the floor occasionally to cushion where I was standing)
Measurement: daily recordings in a journal of my energy level, my productivity, and how I felt
Timeline: 3 weeks
The desk took approximately one week of acclimation to get used to. During the first week I needed to take relatively frequent breaks, and even into the second week I did not make it through the full 8-hour day every day. If you’ve never been in a position where you’re on your feet all day every day (like many of us desk-jockeys), this will be a completely new sensation for you. Even after I was completely acclimated I continued to do a quick set of stretches every hour (toetouches, etc.), especially for my upper back.
That said, my posture definitely improved. I naturally began to hold my shoulders further back instead of bringing them forward and slumping into the “computer desk slouch.”
The most surprising change was my respiration. What I mean is that I felt my lungs/chest were more open and expanded and that I had an easier time breathing. I’m a generally healthy person and had not considered this potential side-effect, yet there are many notes in my journal about how easy it was to breathe.
So, did my energy level or productivity improve? Maybe. It’s tough to say. If so, it was not a drastic change. Neither of them got worse, though, and that is in of itself significant. I was definitely much more prone to pace and move around when I needed to think, which also seems intuitively to be a good thing. Sometimes I do feel that I was more productive, but part of this was partially due to the observer-expectancy effect of watching the clock.
The bottom line is that I felt better, had better posture and got just as much done.
Edit from 1 month after the experiment: at first I concluded that the changes were not sufficient for me to be truly addicted. I have reversed my opinion now. The process of acclimating to the desk was slow and simple enough that I did not fully realize the changes until I attempted to go back to using crappy wooden chairs in rented apartments. See my note at the top of this post for more information, but I can now safely say that I am fully a “standing desk” convert. My friends may find it a little bit weird when they come over, but that is quite all right by me.
(If I were still living in the same place I would certainly continue to employ my standing desk; I’ve even considered ways to make a makeshift desk in my current apartment. The changes were not drastic enough for me to be truly addicted, but I think that the benefits to posture and general health alone make it something worth considering for anybody who has posture problems. For my colleagues and friends who sit a desk all day I definitely suggest the change to a standing desk, especially if they are not physically active.)
Some people have taken this concept further with ideas like this commercial treadmill-desk. The idea is that you walk while working instead of just standing. Frankly, it sounds distracting to me. Even set at a very low setting, though, walking for several hours per day can mean a lot of burned calories each week and significant weight loss. If you simply cannot find time to work out then perhaps this is a good idea and I’d love to hear about your results. However, these positive effects are all-too-easily counteracted by just one or two extra cans of Mountain Dew each day. Thinking of working out as a passive activity is a recipe for failure though; if you really want to get into better shape you need a plan and a course of action. Free perks are great, but don’t rely on them as a true fix for your problems!