As an industry, we spend far too much time sat down. A quick Google search will show plenty of research suggesting that this is very bad for you in many different ways. I've very recently invested in a standing desk, and thought I'd share what led up to me buying it, which one I chose, and also my initial experiences using it. This will be a 'part 1', with a follow up in about 6 months.
I work remotely, and a month or so ago I decided to start standing up during daily standups and meetings. I was strongly aware that I had a very sedentary lifestyle - sitting down ~8-9 hours, five days a week. In my current contract, we pair pair-program remotely pretty much all day - so as well as standing up in meetings, I also tried standing up when the other person was 'driving'.
When doing this, I immediately found myself listening more intently during standups and meetings, and generally getting less distracted. I also found myself walking around the room and stretching whilst listening. Standing up didn't mean I was just going from a stationary sit to just a stationary stand. When stood up, I found myself naturally moving around a lot more!
The problem was that my monitors were still at sitting height. So I was looking down a lot - which isn't good for your upper spine. I also had to sit when I was typing. This is when I decided I was going to invest in a standing desk...
After a bit of research, and a few conversations on Twitter - I choose a Flexispot E7 desk. I knew I wanted a motorised desk that supported presets, so I could save my preferred heights. As a bonus, it also has a child-lock - which has turned out to be really useful, as my two kids think my new desk is a shiny new toy! Well, it is - but not their toy! ;)
It was a bit of a wait, taking just over a month to arrive once I ordered it. But once it arrived, it was very easy to assemble - I did it during my lunch break. I know someone who has ordered the same desk since, and theirs arrived much faster - so they must just have been out of stock when I ordered mine.
The desktop is also from Flexispot, and I ordered it together with the frame...
This image is from their website (product page here). I got the black one. I find that that having this curved contoured edge makes a big difference. I guess this also applies to sitting down desks too - where using my old desk, I noticed my wrist resting against the square edge. Whereas with this desk, my wrist naturally rests and the contoured edge and feels much more comfortable.
My desk arrived on a Wednesday, and I used it on the Thursday and Friday. Over the weekend, my back was really sore. Speaking to people on Twitter, it sounds like I probably did too much too quickly, as I pretty much did most of those days stood up straight away. I also have an old lower-back injury that reoccurs from time to time, and causes me issues for a couple of days, then goes back to normal. Those two initial days of standing did trigger my bad back - but, luckily it only lasted a few days, then I found I could go back to standing - taking it a bit easier this time. It's only a couple of weeks later that I'm writing this now, and I'm already finding I can stand for most of the day and it's no longer an issue.
As mentioned earlier in this post, I'm finding that I'm not just standing still, but moving around much more than I would have been when sat down. When listening in a meeting, I walk around my office whilst listening. I find myself stretching out more too. Over the course of months and years - the accumulative effect of this must be massive.
Another thing I find myself doing, is stepping back from the screen much more. If I'm looking at code and thinking something through, but not typing - I'm finding that I naturally step back to ponder. Much further back than I'd be if I was sat down. So this isn't only good for your back, legs, cardiovascular system, etc - but also your eyes too!
When I removed my old desk - it was pretty disgusting behind it. Getting the hoover under the new standing desk is much easier, as I can just raise it to full height and walk under it! It goes surprisingly high!
There are a few different accessories you can get as part of your move to standing. Below are the ones I went with...
After speaking with people I know who have standing desks, and also asking on Twitter, I decided to get an anti-fatigue mat. The idea is that it's more cushioned and reduces pressure on your feet, legs, and back.
I must admit, that when I first got it, it didn't feel that much different to the carpet I have in my study anyway. However, using it more - I can definitely notice a difference. It just goes to show how a seemly small difference in floor, can make a big difference for prolonged periods of time!
I went with the Flexispot anti-fatigue mat.
Whilst researching the anti-fatigue mats, I also came across something called a wobble board...
(photo on left taken from Amazon - those are *not* my socks ;))
I ordered both the mat and the board at the same time, as I correctly suspected that being able to swap between different standing surfaces would make a difference when standing for long periods of time. When using this, I tend to have my feet much wider apart than in the image above, and do rocking motions. I'm naturally quite fidgety anyway - and this board seems to work quite well for that. When on the mat or floor, I walk around more and pace - and when on the board, I find myself slightly bending each leg and rocking to and fro. It also feels very good for my lower back and knees, and the rocking motion really engages your core.
The final accessory I got was a wobble stool...
Quite often I find that I want a break from standing just for 5 minutes. I don't want to move the desk all the way down to the low seating position and drag my chair in. I just want a short break perching for a bit. This is where a standing stool comes in. It takes up a lot less space than a full-on chair, and it can be adjusted in height, so you're still effectively standing, but just taking the load off your back for a bit.
This works well, and because it not only rocks from side to side, but also can swivel vertically along the y-axis - you get a different type of movement. So even when perched, I'm finding I'm not as stationary as when sitting in a normal office chair.
I'm really pleased with this desk, and if I could go back in time, I wouldn't change any of my choices - this includes the frame, desktop, and the accessories.
As I mentioned at the start - this is a part 1 post, as I've only had the desk for a couple of weeks. I intend to write a follow-on post in about 6 months.
Coincidentally, a few days after getting the desk, I happened to be having a health check, and discovered that my blood pressure was very high. This surprised me, as I eat healthily, don't smoke, only drink infrequently in moderation, exercise, have hardly any body fat, and never really get stressed. I'm generally very happy in life, and feel very healthy. So really wasn't expecting to have high blood pressure. They do call it the silent killer for this reason though! The only thing I can associate this to is my very sedentary (up until now) lifestyle. I immediately ordered a blood pressure monitor so I can keep an eye on it. Hopefully my new standing desk will help improve things.
Hopefully this blog post has made you think about how much we as an industry spend sitting down. If you're in a position to upgrade to a standing desk, then I'd highly recommend it. If you're not though - then think about standing up in meetings. A lot of us are working from home at the moment, so even meetings are at our computers - we don't even get the walk from our desk to the meeting room.
If you already have a standing desk, I'd love to hear your experience with it. Feel free to comment below.