Should I Get A Standing Desk

Should I Get A Standing Desk? It’s a question more, and more people are asking. Standing desks are cropping up in workplaces around the country. Do they really make you healthier? Both Alex and I weigh in as we’ve worked with our standing desks for years. 

should i get a standing desk?

My Introduction to Standing Desks

When I was in sales in Texas, I had a customer, Randy, who spent 8-10 hours a day at his standing desk. Randy was very passionate about the change the desk brought to his life. He said that his lower back pain was gone. He felt robust knowing that walking the Texas Motor Speedway pits all day wouldn’t leave him achy and exhausted.

After a long day at the office, he had the energy to complete his “honey-do-list” (Alex hates this term, by the way) instead of collapsing on the couch. I was impressed by his newfound vitality. 

A week after this discussion, my friend, Martin, gifted me a Mi Band Fitness Tracker (the Chinese version of a FitBit and a great value.) I never wanted one because I knew it would remind me that I was terribly inactive. Since I averaged 25-35 hours a week driving, this was a valid concern. I wore it, and it did. I was lucky to hit 3,000 steps a day during the work week. Some days as low as 2,000 steps. 

My newly acquired accountability buddy strapped to my wrist prompted me to research. I researched how to transition to a standing desk, what type to buy, and how to install it in my home office properly.

My First Standing Desk

On day one, I was a believer. Having a standing desk immediately injected more movement into my day. Since I was on my feet, I started pacing during phone calls. Soon, I was finding creative ways to stand while away from home. In hotel rooms, I placed the ironing board on the bed and adjusted the height so that I could stand and work. On the road, I would stand behind my car and fire off some emails from the trunk.

My favorite DIY standing desk – the hotel ironing board.
Or, set up on the car trunk. Yes, phone books still exist…

Within days, my hip flexors loosened up, and my lower back pain from driving subside. Within weeks, I was feeling more energized and productive. The increased standing even helped me improve my sleep. Tasks started falling off the to-do list more quickly. In the excitement of the discovery, I recommended a standing desk to everyone I met. Alex was already hooked and making the same recommendations.

Quick side-note on back pain. Since I have had (and still have) my fair share of back pain flare-ups. Undoubtedly, a standing desk will help you. But make sure you also have a quality mattress as this is another significant cause of back pain.

Yoga has also reduced my back pain flare-ups. It’s an enjoyable activity to do as a couple, and you don’t have to do it at a studio with other people. See what we learned from a 14-day Couple’s Yoga Challenge, and if you’re a beginner, the challenge is a great place to start!

dos and don’ts for getting a standing desk

Yes. YES. You should get a standing desk. But there is a lot to consider when investing in a standing desk. Plus, if you don’t do it right, you can hurt yourself. Many people experience back and knee pain if they do it wrong. 

Standing desks can be quite expensive. Or, they can be cheap, or even free if you use an ironing board. However, they are still the biggest trend in office furniture since the 1960’s cubicles.

On top of that, more companies are on board with purchasing standing desks for their employees to improve engagement, health, productivity, and recruitment. Companies with standing desks are up from 13% in 2013 to 44% in 2017, as reported by the Star Tribune. So how do you go about picking out the perfect one?

1. What Standing Desk Should I Get?

Dos:

There are two popular options: an adjustable desk or a stationary desk. My Safco fixed-height standing desk is the perfect size. It was the most quality and economical desk I could find. The height is adjustable, but not quickly. However, this was fine for me. Since I worked from home, there were places to sit if I got tired of standing. I highly recommend this desk.

For Alex, her office didn’t have other places to sit, so she opted for her adjustable Versadesk tabletop desk. Her desk used a motor to change, at the press of a button, to a sitting position within seconds. Very quality, but more expensive than my stationary desk. 

Alex’s height-adjustable desk of her office.

Don’ts:

Don’t buy a non-adjustable desk converter (aka a small tabletop that props up your computer on your current desk.) The cheaper ones are too small to fit two monitors, are wobbly, and have height adjustment limitations. Alex bought one of these to “start” and “save money.” But, she promptly returned it because it was uncomfortable, unstable, and didn’t have space for her keyboard.

Speaking of keyboards, many standing desks come with a keyboard shelf set a few inches below the desk height. We don’t think these are necessary as long as you adjust your monitor height accordingly.

Finally, make sure the desk is big enough. You don’t want to feel cramped at your desk, and you need space for a glass of water. Hydration is another excellent tool to keep you productive during the workday.

2. Proper Posture At Your Standing Desk

Dos:

Do take measurements before you make purchases. You will want the height of your keyboard at a 90-degree angle with your elbows. Standing with a straight back and neck, you should be eye level with your screen about 3″ from the top. The screen tilt should be around 20 degrees away from you.

Don’ts:

Don’t do this halfway. If you buy a standing desk but don’t have a way to get your monitor at eye level, your back pain will transfer to your neck. Proper posture is especially hard if you’re using a laptop and the screen and keyboard are attached. For me, this meant buying a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard so that my laptop could be at eye level.

3. Transitioning To Your Standing Desk

Dos:

Do transition to your new standing desk slowly. It’s not a good idea to go from 8 hours of sitting at your office to 8 hours of standing cold turkey. We recommend switching hourly to begin or else you’re at risk of hurting your back. Also, placing an anti-fatigue mat or memory foam bath mat below your feet is a MUST. Or wear comfortable shoes with cushioning. Extra padding and support will make the transition pain free.

I worked my way to a full 8 hours a day of standing while Alex took breaks to sit during lunch and her 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM daily snacks.

Don’ts:

Some people read that a standing desk can cause injury and decide, “Well, I guess I shouldn’t get a standing desk.” A silly conclusion if you ask me. You wouldn’t buy new running shoes and expect to run a marathon the next day. Transitioning to a standing desk is like training for a marathon. It takes time. Again, don’t rush it and take frequent sitting breaks as your transition to your new standing desk.

4. Your Company Should Pay For It

Dos:

Most companies won’t hesitate to pay for your standing desk or offer a significant subsidy. You can refer to the studies showing increased productivity and health benefits. Bosses want happy employees and will invest in you. You never know until you ask, even if you’re the first in your office!

“Days spent sitting for hours may increase your risk for an early death no matter how much you exercise, researchers say.” – CBS News, 2017

Don’ts:

Don’t just ask your boss once and don’t tell them that it’s something you want. Demand that it’s something that you need, and explain that they should be thankful that you want to set an excellent example in your workplace.

If your initial request is denied, ask a second and third time. If the requests are still denied, go to your boss’s boss and the company HR Manager. I used this tactic countless times, and it always worked.

Our Favorite Standing Desk Gear

Desks:

Anti-fatigue mats:

To stand with your laptop:

To get accountable to a more active life:

  • The Mi Band Fitness Tracker – We used it for years and tracks steps, calories, and sleep very well. It has a great battery life too.

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