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Stand Up Desk – Update & More Science

I've now been working at my stand up desk for a few days, a concept I brought back from my trip to Japan, and I'm loving it.  Ok, I will admit the first couple days were pretty rough, and had it not been for a good pair of shoes and a hot tub, I might have even re-thought this idea.  But today was great.  I really do feel more productive and energetic.  And the steady stream of employees stopping by to see their "wacky president" has been entertaining.  Many of them leave wanting to join the wacky club... perhaps that'24wigg.184s leading by example?

I have received a boatload of emails from people who have also taken the wacky plunge, every one of them positive.  I've also heard of several companies that have gone or are going stand up company-wide.  All positive again.  And there have been several emails from people relaying an apparently popular modification of the idea: a treadmill coupled with the stand up desk.  
Here's just one example.

Shimon Rura pointed me to a few articles on the benefits of standing up.  You might also want to check out his own blog post on the treadmill-enhanced stand up desk, including a photo. 

The New York Times had an article a couple years back on some Mayo Clinic studies on standing versus sitting, which coincidentally convinced one of the study docs to go stand up himself.

The heavier ones tended to sit, while the lean ones were more restless
and spent two more hours a day on their feet - standing, pacing around
and fidgeting. The difference translated into 350 calories a day,
enough for the heavy people to take off 30 to 40 pounds a year, if they
would get moving.

30 to 40 pounds a year at just two more hours on your feet.  So going stand up for eight hours... hmmm... I should be ready for the beach in a month or so.  After which I'll keep my eye on the nearest pizza parlour.  Or pub.  Or both.

When it comes to this mission, Dr. Levine may be his own best guinea pig. "If anyone in the world is going to do this it's obviously going to be me," he said. At
meetings, he stands instead of sitting. Talking on the telephone, he
paces around. In his office he has a treadmill in place of a desk. He
got it last year when he saw the data from the study comparing lean
people and obese ones.

"He has
installed a second treadmill alongside his own, and he encourages
visitors to hop on and stroll while they talk to him. It takes some
getting used to, but, he says, envious colleagues at Mayo have been
clamoring for treadmill desks.

"Walking at work, first of all
it's addictive," he said. "It's terribly good fun. I actually feel
happier, particularly in the afternoon. You might think you come home
exhausted, but you don't. You come home energized." For him, the treadmill has eliminated the afternoon slump, when a lot of people feel sleepy and crave candy bars or caffeine.

"I've become convinced we really can generate an office environment where people are on the move and are happier," he said.

So energy and happiness are other effects.  I like that.  Many years ago Fortune described how standing helps the brain work 20% faster and can even ward off Alzheimer's.  I like that, too.  Bernard Wechsler has an interesting article on the benefits of standing up, with a couple of the points being,

Did you know that Benny Franklin and Tommy Jefferson worked all day from their (vertical) Stand-Up desk? I checked and Ben lived to about 92 and Tom 81, both with all their marbles. Get a vertical desk and you'll cut sitting 65%. Now remember, the muscles holding up a 195 pound body burn twice the calories of the same sitting weight. Stand your way to weight loss.

Sitting all working-day affects our immune system and is disease causing. Sitting reduces fat and cholesterol metabolism and produces more of both. Standing and strolling around our desk and office awakens our enzymes
activating good metabolism. Blood vessels to our leg muscles are shut-down after sitting a couple of hours.

I like my marbles.  I like energy and happiness and being able to wear a Speedo... not that I'd ever do that for other reasons. 

I guess I like being wacky.  Who else is joining the wacky stand up club?

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4 Responses to "Stand Up Desk – Update & More Science"

  • Peter Budnick
    12 November 2008 - 8:14 am


    Our company specializes in ergonomics, and we host the world’s largest discussion forum on the topic. Stand-up work and the treadmill concept have been topics of interest recently. There are two threads directly related to your recent posts:

    Looking for Tips for Workers New to Sit/Stand Workstations

    What are the ergonomic pros and cons of a walking (tread mill) workstation

    We have a lot more info on the topic if interested.

    And by the way, I have an adjustable desk that goes from a seated workstation arrangement to a standing arrangement. I enjoy standing for many of the reasons you’ve stated (and I’ve remained standing since you issues your challenge).

  • Kevin Hartford
    12 November 2008 - 4:23 pm

    This is a great idea. I hardly ever sit at my desk anyways.

  • Brian
    16 November 2008 - 9:55 pm

    Here’s an example of not-so excellence: I purchased a retail display fixture I plan on repurposing as a stand-up desk but I can’t get it in my office without taking the door off the hinges.

  • Julia Gabriele
    20 March 2009 - 7:29 am

    Hi! I stumbled across your post after taking the plunge about 3 weeks ago. I thought maybe it was just in my mind, but I feel 10 times better and I swear I’ve lost weight (haven’t weighed myself–too scared to be disappointed!). I also think it’s made my daily workouts more productive. I am curious about statistics. How many more calories can you burn, on average, by standing rather than sitting.

    I’m a true convert!