Review: Stand-Up Workstation
Standing desks are better for your health, but are they a reasonable alternative? We put one to the test.
Available at Ergotron.com.
Sitting may be the new smoking: Having your butt planted in a chair for six or more hours a day ups your odds of cancer, heart disease, and early death. With new research finding that as much as 77% of our office workdays are spent seated and chained to our computers (not to mention the time spent camped on our couches watching Man v. Food reruns), sitting is becoming a serious health epidemic. The scarier news is that gym rats aren’t off the hook: Even exercising for an hour a day can’t negate the health damage of a (mostly) sedentary lifestyle.
Though you probably can’t afford to quit your day job, you can take a stand to boost blood flow and metabolism, burn calories, and even increase energy. While you could cobble together a stand-up desk by piling some books underneath your computer for elevation, this makes it a real pain to go from sitting to standing whenever you need a break. (We know—we tried it!). So MensFitness.com decided to test a stand-up workstation from Ergotron, the workstation leaders for the anti-chair movement. Here’s how a high-tech desk made it easy to avoid too much sitting down on the job.
It’s easily customizable. The Workfit-C model has a moveable keyboard and mouse tray that’s more comfortable than a fixed tray, and the tension spring makes going from sitting to standing as easy as touching a lever. You can adjust the height to make your monitor stop at eye level so the workstation adjusts to your body (rather than the other way around). You can also flip the mounts to display your monitor and laptop on whichever side you prefer.
You’ll get toned and burn calories. You can torch 340 more calories during an 8-hour workday standing versus sitting. That’s 1,700 extra calories a week, which would lead to about 29 pounds shed over the course of a working year. Plus, standing forces you to use your core more than you would if you were slumped in your chair. We focused on tightening our stomachs while standing, which resulted in a more toned abs after six weeks.
Your workout will get a boost. Surprisingly, more time spent on our feet during the day meant we had more energy to tackle our training. Trying to log a 5-mile run or 30-mile bike ride after a day hunched in a chair sapped our energy while more time spent standing increased our endurance.
You’ll feel less pain. Back and neck pain is one of the top employee ailments, according to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. That was definitely true for us, as neck aches from keeping our shoulders hunched near our ears while sitting and firing away at our keyboards was our biggest physical complaint. However, our neck pain all but disappeared after just a week of regularly using the standing workstation.
You’ll up your creativity and productivity. Compared to the slouched-shoulder position that typically accompanies sitting in a computer chair, there’s just something about be able to stand up during phone calls and while typing emails that made us feel more energized. In fact, we noticed that we started to get those emailed typed up a bit faster after transitioning from sitting to standing. Plus, standing gave us a higher-up perspective that made brainstorming ideas feel somehow easier. Think about it: Standing is a position of power, so it felt easier to clearly convey our thoughts.
It’s pricey. Taking a stand for your health will cost you: The models that simply clamp onto the front or rear of your desktop start about $379, while the all-in-one, mobile sit-stand station cart we tested runs at $849. While that’s no pocket change, it’s still about the price you might pay for any high-quality desk.
Some assembly required. The models that clamp onto any surface to transform it into a customized, adjustable sit-stand desk are easy to install—just make sure your desk can handle the weight of the machinery. Assembly for the Workfit-C model is still simple, but takes a bit more time to put together—about two solid hours. Instructions are very straightforward and all the tools are included, except for Phillips screwdriver and wrench.
There’s a fatigue factor. After years spent hunched over a laptop, the first week of going from sitting to standing was uncomfortable. Our feet were aching and butt muscles sore. It’s wise to ease into a standing workday by taking a seat every half hour or so before eventually building up to standing for 90 minutes at a stretch. Eventually you’ll be able to divide your workday into 50:50 sitting to standing ratio.
THE BOTTOM LINE
After our six-week experiment, we’re never reuniting with our office chairs. The Workfit-C made transitioning from sitting to standing a no-brainer, and the long-term health and creative benefits scored were well worth the cost of the stand-up desk. If you’re interested in joining the stand-up-at-work movement, direct your company’s HR department to JustStand.Org or try putting together some of the site’s research yourself to prove just how much your boss might gain in employee productivity in the long term by shelling out for standing desks in the short term.