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I'm considering a standing desk. Are there any generally accepted trade-off that might occur when working at a standing desk?

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7 Answers 7

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I have a standing/sitting desk at work and really like it. As the other posters have mentioned, ensuring it is both standing and sitting is important, not only from a health perspective but because you'll likely get tired of standing at some point and need to sit down.

I find that when I get my afternoon slump an hour or so after lunch, standing helps to keep me awake and stay productive.

Really the only issues I've had with the setup, which is minor, is that each time I change my position I have to make small tilt adjustment to my monitors.

Finally, with regard to the standing/sitting desk, I think the best method is where the chair is a high chair and keeping the desk high. Unless the desk is very easy to raise up or down, you will be less likely to change between positions like you ought to if you can't just sit and continue working.

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Adding support in favor a high desk/high chair arrangement (which I use), it is often significantly cheaper than a desk that changes between low and high. –  Belisama Mar 28 '12 at 10:31
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As mentioned by other responders, it turns out that using a standing desk isn't necessarily a perfect solution. In this amazing article on Life Hacker about this topic, they mention the trade-offs being:

It dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (ninefold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy. The performance of many fine motor skills also is less good when people stand rather than sit.

(That is actually a quote from Cornell University researchers on this topic.)

But the bottom line of this article is wise and simple: The most important thing is to move. 2-3 times an hour, for 2-3 minutes each time, make sure to move from your position, whether standing or sitting. I've started trying to do this by stretching, walking around... Anything so that I'm not sitting in the same place for hours.

One more thing, though. There is obviously the individual aspect of this. Maybe you have a specific medical issue that makes it more comfortable for you to stand than sit. In that case, spending more of your day standing than sitting might be better for you.

Good luck. :) And definitely I agree with the others - if you do decide to go for it, get the desk which is both for standing and sitting.

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I work at a standing desk 8-12 hours a day but walking on a treadmill. I have no chair. I find standing still very uncomfortable but walking about 2-2.5mph painless.

Negatives: Probably wouldn't be approved in an office environment (I work at home), expensive if not a diy'er.

Positives: Posture improving, no more neck or back pain, weight finally under control despite being a binge eater and no other exercise, easy to take off for a walk around the room to think or drink.

Walking is fine for typing and mouse work however precision graphics tablet work requires me to jump on the treadmill rails and stand still.

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Thank you for actually offering evidence (your experience). –  DragonFax Mar 12 '13 at 22:55
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I've heard a few people recommend this, like Eben Pagan. He recommends this in his Wake Up Productive program. Most of them recommend having a desk that you can switch between sitting and standing mode, so you can do both. The important part while standing is that you have to learn to have a good posture, but this also applies for sitting at a desk.

They argue that standing at a desk is better for your body because it is a more natural position. Here is a nice article about the history and benefits of a standing desk.

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If you do go for one, make sure it is one of the adjustable kind, so you can sit or stand. Just standing all day can be as bad as just sitting, but being able to switch between using different muscles and postures makes all the difference.

My boss uses one in order to help with back pain, and it seems to do the trick.

My wife also advises on the use of ergonomic aids to help prevent pain in the workplace, and she recommends them if you are finding problems in your back or shoulders from working in a seated position all day.

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FWIW, you may want to bookmark the Cornell Ergonomics website: http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/ergoguide.html

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I like to use a standing desk sometimes when I'm writing a speech; it helps me to focus better. The best way to find out if you'll like it is, try it out. A cheap way I did that was buying a laptop stand (this one to be specific), and then putting that on top of my normal desk. When I want to sit down, I just remove the laptop stand and I'm back to using my normal desk. Here are some other ideas: http://artofmanliness.com/2011/07/05/become-a-stand-up-guy-the-history-benefits-and-use-of-standing-desks/

No need to buy an expensive custom desk to try it out.

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