By Eric on September 7, 2012 24

Stand Up for a Change

If you work at a desk job, have you ever thought about how many hours a day you spend sitting and laying down? For me, it’s probably 20+ hours a day! That’s crazy. Have you heard that sitting is killing us? Enter the standing desk…

Standing Desk 1

I first heard about standing desks over a year ago. I thought they sounded awesome, but I didn’t think it was possible where we work. The kind of standing desk that I knew about was the hydraulic kind where you have the option of standing, and sitting when you get tired. They sound pretty expensive. But, a few brave lads at our company took the plunge and converted their cubicles to permanent standing desks, and it opened my mind to possibility of doing it myself.

As we attempt to make strides toward wellness, I mentioned the idea to our wellness coach/chiropractor, and without hesitation he said I should do it. That was good enough for me to give it a try.

It took some tweaking and creativity, but I finally got everything where I like it. I started on Tuesday last week and here are my thoughts on the transition:

  • Be prepared to be made fun of. Especially if you have your monitors where they should be (more on this below). Double whammy if you’re tall: “Are you building a tower back there?” “Looks like a giraffe could stand at your desk!” Those are just a few of the comments I’ve received from my coworkers.
  • Aside from the altitude change, I could actually feel my blood flowing throughout my body (I know it sounds weird).
  • If you are one of the first to make the move, be prepared to talk about it. Everyone wants to know what you think and how it’s going. You are like a little kid who just got a new bike. Everyone wants to check it out.
  • Got that 2:30, groggy feeling? Take a 5-hour… Get a standing desk. My brain has not gotten tired since switching. Yes, there was a physical adjustment for my legs and back, but my brain has been better than ever.
  • Sitting down actually feels like a luxury now instead of making me feel lazy. No guilt for this guy to come home, sit on the couch and kick my feet up.
  • Here’s how the first four days went: Day 1: Back, legs, knees and heels hurt. Day 2: What the heck am I doing? I just want to sit down! Day 3: I can do this, but my back still gets sore after about an hour. Day 4: Still get a stiff back, and it feels like I’ve been doing calf raises all day. Getting used to it though…

Since I raised my desk, three others have made the move, including Kelsey! And there are a handful more who are thinking about it. It’s a great way to get your blood flowing throughout the day and keep from feeling lazy at your desk job for 40 hours a week.

Kelsey Standing Desk

Just like sitting, though, there is a wrong way and a right way to set up your work station. Based on ergonomic recomendations from our chiropractor, I came up with the following tips for setting up a standing desk of your own.

  • Stand up tall. Sternum out. Shoulders back. Look straight ahead. Get in a comfortable stance with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Desk height should be comfortable for you, but as a guideline, your arm angle should be at about 90 degrees. I started with mine too low and it caused strain in my shoulders as they slouched to compensate. For me it’s about 48″. (I’m 6’2″-ish.)
  • The correct monitor height is probably higher than you think. The bottom of your monitor should be at your lip level when standing up tall and straight. This might be the hardest thing for people to grasp because it looks so weird. Being tall definitely is a disadvantage here. I moved my computer to the side portion of my work area so that I could utilize the shelf and get my monitors to the proper height. (It’s also when I gave my work space the nickname “mega desk”.)
  • Make sure to wear comfortable shoes at first and get a floor mat to save your feet. I didn’t have a mat for the first day and a half, and my heels are still recovering.
  • Change your stance and stretch often to ward off soreness and muscle/joint fatigue.
  • Take sitting breaks. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a stool that is tall enough for me to be able to comfortably work, but it is wise to have a stool and shorter folks shouldn’t have a problem finding one at the right height. Kelsey uses a stool to give her feet and legs a rest. Even five minutes an hour is very helpful.
Standing Desk

As you can tell by the infographic below, there are some major benefits to standing more, and some big implications later in life if we continue down the lifestyle path that we are on now. If you have the opportunity to make the switch to a standing desk, I would highly recommend giving it a shot. Worst case scenario is that you can go back to sitting, right?

Do you stand or sit at work? If you sit, would you consider a standing desk?

Sitting is Killing You



Husband to Kelsey. Father to Rooney. Follower of Jesus. Born and raised in Iowa. I like blogging. Bulleted lists excite me. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. way to go!!! The research of “inactivity physiology” is growing around a common central theme: sedentary behavior is an independent and distinct risk factor for chronic disease. Indeed, it is quite common for Americans to spend half of their waking day sitting, with essentially idle muscles.

  2. LOVE the infographic. It’s very Hitchcockian. I’m going to post about this to and I’ll send some link love your way. :)

  3. I love this idea but am curious how you went about getting approval from your employer to make the switch.

    • We actually didn’t get official approval…but there were two people with standing desks before Eric got his so it seemed like the company was OK with it. We talked with our Building Maintenance one day about switching and the next day they were raised up. (Obviously, we work at a very casual, cool company.)

  4. Good for you! I’ve been wanting to do this, but I don’t think our cubicles are set up for it. :( Instead, I try to get up every hour, walk over my lunch or do yoga to get the blood flowing. And nothing motivates me more to work out in the evening then remembering I’ve spent the last 9 hours on my butt! Either way, still jealous of the standing desk.

    I’m also super jealous you get to wear shorts and sneakers to work!

  5.! I haven’t seen this before. I totally want to do it! I don’t have to sit all the time for my job, but I still sit a lot. The days that I’m at my desk all day get really long and tiresome! Do you have any before and after pics? I am looking around my desk wondering how I can do it.

  6. It seems intimidating, but very intestesting… My problem at work is that I don’t even have a cubicle or permanent desk; I’m camped out in the office kitchen because they didn’t have a place to put me, haha. I don’t think the office would apprecite a standing kitchen table. :P If I ever have a place with my own desk (we can only pray), I think it’s a GREAT idea!

    • it IS very intimidating. i was terrified of it the first day. i used to get to work and i think be excited that i could sit down. :) but it made my legs feel so restless! it is totally a shift, though, to learn how to stand and think/work. i do a lot of writing and i am not used to standing while i do it – not the physical nature of it but more the creative process.

    • would they be open to a pub height table? i worked in an office for a while where 3-4 people shared the same big space and we all had pub tables so we could stand or sit.

      i started a job a month ago where i’m on my feet 90% of the day and i’ve felt a lot better. my back/feet were sore the first few days, but i feel stronger now and my posture seems to be improving. if/when i move to a more office type job i will definitely look into a standing desk. i’ve been sold on the idea for a long time.

  7. i love this idea. i wish my company would think about offering it.

  8. I have a friend who works from home and set up a standing desk over the top of a treadmill. Not only does she stand while she works, but she also walks (at an extremely slow pace) for almost the entirety of her day. Super interesting!

    I had never seen this information, though, I do a lot of my work from home standing up, because I have my lap top on the kitchen counter, usually ;)

    Good stuff!

  9. Very interesting stuff. I have thought about doing a standing desk but have not made the jump… Maybe I should just go for it!

  10. Standing desks will soon be the standard in most offices. We continue to get a huge amount of requests for the electric height adjustable.

  11. Love this! Have you seen the ones with a treadmill underneath? Now THAT would be sweet! You set the speed really low (I think 2.0 and under) and you are literally moving all day and your posture and leaning isn’t quite an issue.

  12. i wish my office at work could be accommodated to have a standing work center. but i have made this change at home – my laptop sits atop a bookcase and i stand when i am on my laptop at home. i have really felt the burden of sitting for such long periods at work so even this small change i think has been positive. thanks for sharing your experiences with this type of desk set up!

  13. My boss has a really nice electric adjusting one. I am too jealous. I’ve been looking online and I think I may go with a cheaper one that attaches just the monitor and keyboard on an arm instead of the whole table top.

  14. I’ve been reading your blog for a little over a year now and this is my first comment. It being on a post about standing desks makes me feel quite lame.

    Anyway, I’d read about standing desks previously, but wasn’t motivated to take the plunge. Yesterday, I finally decided to give it a go.

    I wanted to use resources already available to me as I didn’t want anyone already associating my standing to work with quirkiness to also associate it with a waste of time or resources on the part of anyone/anything necessary to accommodate the change (a new desk, help from other staff, etc).

    I ended up using a bookshelf that I already had in my office that is perfect height for my monitors and has adjustable shelving for my keyboard. I thought I would have to have my keyboard covered by the top of the bookshelf and was nervous about Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing flashbacks, but it turns out that the shelving is able to be partially pulled out while still bearing weight.

    It’s an idea for anyone else not quite certain about taking the plunge or without an employer willing to purchase fancy desks or other resources. (my improvised standing desk) (a partial view of my office)

  15. Yes– thanks for sharing this infographic! This very image was what finally got me to switch from a seated desk to an adjustable height desk (not a standing desk, mind.)
    I like the adjustable height desk because it at least gives me the OPTION of sitting down if I need or want to (which I do, only about 10 percent of the day.)
    Personally I went with a NextDesk. I know there are tons of options out there, but this one spoke to me, I guess. It’s eco-friendly, it’s power adjustable, and besides, it just looks good.
    I think they’re coming out with a standing desk too, so if you’re just in the market for a standing desk (which is probably cheaper), you can check them out for that as well. Either way, you should check them out online– they’re at
    Cool beans. Thanks!

  16. Very cool Eric! Great post. I embraced the standing desk last year and haven’t looked back. My husband just stopped smoking…I mean SITTING…earlier this week. (He found your blog.) It is so fun to hear his take on it at the end of each day (i.e. more energy, efficient, sharper). Lots of “I told you so’s,” coming from me. Ha ha. Just kidding. Really though it is amazing and your post is far more detailed than the couple I’ve done in the past. Maybe I am due for another…I will link to yours. Thanks for sharing. Rock on! dina

  17. Hello! I’m looking into making a standing desk, but for me (a freelance illustrator and grad student) that means investing some money. I’m trying to do all of my research before taking the plunge. How do you guys like it more than a year later? Any words of wisdom you’ve learned in that time?

    • Hi Ashley! We’ve actually both switched back to sitting! Isn’t that crazy? We’ve found that just as sitting in one place isn’t great for your body, neither is standing all day in one place. Ideally you would have both options or a walking desk with a treadmill. Hope that helps!

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