Monday, December 5, 2011

Standing While you Work?

It's about 2pm, an hour or so after lunch. My eyes start to flutter. My head starts to fill with cotton. Yep, circadian rhythm strikes again, trying to make me take a nap. Only, my workplace doesn't particularly advocate naps on the desk, so I do what I can to avoid it - namely, plug in my iPod and stand up.

Turns out, standing up at work is good for you. There's evidence* that it can help prevent diabetes, lead to weight loss, and improve general health. (links at the bottom!)

Writing can be a sedentary business. Can be? Okay, it typically involves untold hours of sitting. But here's an alternative: try standing. You'll still need to keep your keyboard at elbow level and monitor at eye level, but a little jury-rigging can put you at more or less the perfect height.

One of the articles recommends that you go to a coffee shop and confiscate one of the tall tables (for that author, the tables were the perfect height to act as a standing desk.) Countertops and even professionally crafted standing desks are other options. And the fourth article tells how one worker made herself a standing desk for $20, with a bakers' rack and no-slip paper.

No, I don't do this all day. I sit for most of it, because I get tired after about two hours of standing. When my feet need a break, I put everything back and return to sitting. I also have the (slightly embarrassing) tendency to dance a little as I work. Static standing can be as bad as sitting, though, so perhaps it's just as well that my dignity can take a hit or two.

I've found that even a couple of hours of standing really rejuvenate me, so I've started keeping a nice little stack of textbooks in bookshelves at work. My CPU happens to be the perfect height for my monitor, too, which makes the process easier for me.

If you're worried about gaining weight while writing, try switching to a standing desk for a couple of hours a day. See if it works for you. And if it does, let me know.

*Articles to support this claim:

Standing at Work (contains a nice list of resources with which to sway your boss to your strange new habit)

Standing up for work can improve your health and productivity

She built her own standing desk for $20.


  1. There's also evidence that short siestas improve afternoon productivity (not to mention morale).

  2. I've heard that before, but unfortunately, it's an argument that doesn't go over too well with the bosses. So I'll stick to standing up, because there's really not much that people find objectionable about that. Maybe a little odd, but then, they already knew I was a little odd.