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A week with a sit-stand desk

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My New Years resolution this year was to improve my posture at the computer. Not only had I developed a tendency to hunch over my tiny netbook, but my positioning was causing a lot of pain in my hip flexors and low back.

I'm a firm believer that resolutions which rely on willpower are dumb and always fail. I'm looking for solutions that result in concrete implementations which basically force you to achieve your goal. In this case, I decided that a sit-stand desk could not fail to improve my posture. I know people who have full-on standing desks but decided that the ability to do both would be helpful for me -- and I'm glad I did!

I don't want you to think this resolution was as easy as buying a desk. I took these steps, with several setbacks along the way:

1) Acquired a footrest for when I'm seated.

2) Acquired an external monitor. Tiny netbook screen was making me hunch over and squint.

3) External monitor didn't work with my Linux netbook. Acquired a Macbook Pro, installed Linux on a Virtualbox VM.

4) Acquired an external keyboard and Magic Trackpad.

5) Acquired an Ergotron Workfit S sit-stand desk (it costs about $370 with free shipping from Amazon). Here is a photo of me at the desk:

cm-3127-04f2487114dde9.jpeg

It's heavy and nontrivial to haul that sucker up two flights of stairs to our office!

6) Got a friend to install all of the above. Ergotron did not stay down in the sitting position. My friend came up with the idea to weight the arm with metal plates he happened to have lying around. Casey, you are our own version of McGyver!!!

So all of this work and planning and adjustment took me the better part of a month. Finally I was able to use the desk for a week, and I love it. HOWEVER:

* My feet are SORE! Legs too, but that might be normal for me.

* Pleasantly surprised to find that it's easy to program while standing up.

* I cannot report any magical weight loss this week, unlike some people who get standing desks. However, I was not looking to lose weight.

* Listening to music at the desk is way more fun because I can dance around a little.

* Most importantly, my posture seems to be significantly improved already! The pain has gone away completely, and I just feel better.

So there you have it, workhackers. I can definitely endorse these desks for those of you looking to improve your posture at the computer.

There are anti-fatigue gel mats you can buy so your feet and legs become less sore. (examples)

I'm curious how you decide when to stand and when to sit.

Or is the key to keep mixing it up?

I looked at the gel mats but when I'm sitting the chair would be right over the mat... so that would be awkward. Also, I sort of think that the point is for your feet and legs to build up naturally.

I stand until I'm tired, then I sit. I actually prefer to stand, so probably it's a 2:1 ratio.

Sore legs will go away as you strengthen the muscles you use for standing... Gel mats may actually slow down that strengthening...

Was your experience with @Ergotron's Twitter account a good one?

Oh yah, I should mention: Ergotron's social media team is teh awesome! They're on the case with ergonomic advice, tips from their customer support team, and even offers to fix things that don't work correctly. Kudos to them, they totally get it.

@ifindkarma @sv_troutgirl @ergotron thanks for sharing. I have a separate stand up desk but this looks so much better. Ordering now.

great story. thanks for sharing all the tribulations on the way.

Hey! I just assembled my adjustable GeekDesk on Friday. My notes from just a couple days' standing use:

• I'm surprised at the speed of foot/leg fatigue, and hoping it won't take too long for me to build tolerance

• I have a tendency to move my feet apart in a wide triangle stance, which probably wasn't a good idea, maybe because I haven't quite got the monitor height right.

• I also have a tendency to stand on one leg (almost stork-like) for a while and/or lean on the desk for variety. I suspect this is probably OK as long as I keep changing around.

I've dusted off my long-unused 'Z-Coil' shoes to see what effect they have on standing tolerance.

More as I notice changes,

Would love to hear an update on this!!!!

It's been a couple of months now, and still a great experience. When I go home, it actually feels kinda weird to sit at the computer all the time because I prefer to stand at work. I think it's probably a 60 - 40 sit/stand ratio, and I try to be mindful of good posture -- e.g. I resist the urge to do things like stand on one leg or with an extra-wide stance.

The biggest "problem" that I can report so far is that when I wear high heels the desk is not quite tall enough for me. However I usually take the heels off while I'm working so it's not that big a deal. :)

I usually take heels off when working, too.

Standing more is not just good for your posture; it's also good for your health: http://pandawhale.com/convo/1011/should-you-read-this-post-while-standing-or-sitting

This writeup is my answer to the @parislemon question, What is the best sit-stand desk?

We had standing and sitting desks at my old office. I also have a FitDesk (bike + desk) that I used, but I found that I could only do light mental tasks (moving body around made it almost impossible for me to code).

I've never seen a bike + desk but the treadmill desks look pretty groovy:

http://pandawhale.com/post/34790/treadmill-desk-freestyling

I just saw this fascinating infographic about the sitting disease epidemic. A salient factoid: Research shows if people sat 3hours less a day, it would add 2 years to the average U.S. life expectancy. How about Ergotron = +2 years to your life?!

I am quite excited that both my wife and I are getting Ergotrons installed at our respective work desks this month!

Rich, that's awesome -- please let us know how it goes.

Adding 2 years to your life. Wow.

UPDATE: so after 3.5 years of heavy weekday use, the Ergotron broke while I was moving it to a new office and I don't think I will be replacing it soon. Although I believe more strongly than ever that sit-stand is better than just standing -- because standing fatigue leads to WORSE posture pretty quickly (the wide stance, the hip thrust, the flamingo... not good!) -- in the long run the Ergotron's design just fundamentally limits how big a monitor you can have. In my case I happened to have a stack of old Samsung monitors... but that also meant I had to come up with janky ways to connect my new Macs to the old monitors with Firewire-SVGA connectors and whatnot. And who wants to use a 20" monitor these days?

So will you be getting a new type of sit stand desk in the future?

Yes! I truly believe in the value proposition for health and productivity. Will keep you updated!

Thank you. Please do!

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