Standing Up

I’ve been reading articles lately quoting studies that show how sitting may be in itself bad for you. They’re showing a correlation between hours sitting and the risk of untimely death. Google will turn up many, but here is one from the Mayo Clinic.

Again, it’s correlation, not causation, but the fact that sitting is a major part of my computer-centric day means that the well-known woes of a sedentary lifestyle may be the causative link. Of note, exercising several hours a week does not seem to lessen the effects, so it really does come back to the sitting in front of the screen, whether it be computer or television.

So, what am I doing about it? Well, I’d like to say I’m not taking it sitting down, but I still mostly am. Yet today, after a few weeks of fiddling, I finally got a second computer set up in my office to use while standing.

StandingDeskIt’s not ideal, but I did not want to make a big investment without first seeing how well it worked out. So, I simply grabbed an extra Ikea table a friend had given me during a move. It’s essentially an 18-inch open cube, and I set it on top of my standard 30-inch high desk. The computer was one that had been effectively killed by viruses last year, but I have since revived it for this purpose. So far, my only out-of-pocket expense has been a new UPS to replace the flaky one. (Short story: Never buy the Tripp-Lite brand!)

My initial impression is that it’s about an inch or two too high. I read that the ideal standing desk should be at about the level of your elbow, and at 48-inches, this setup is a touch too high for me. Also, it’s not wide enough. It certainly supports the keyboard, but it needs at least another six inches to the right for the mouse. As it is, I’m reaching forward to use a small patch to the right of the monitor.

But after letting it catch up on four months of updates, I was able to use it for about an hour. Without easy access to the mouse, it’s not appropriate for gaming or web browsing, but it is quite useable for writing text. As such, I imagine most of my testing will be done via writing. Well, it’s not like I don’t do any of that.

Certainly, an hour or two a day is not going to make much difference in my overall lifestyle and metabolism, but it should be enough for me to judge whether it’s worth making a larger investment. I don’t want to go so far as to buy a complete standing desk (or a half-and-half desk), but I figure I could get a different table to stack instead of this Ikea one. Say, 16.5” tall, 18” deep, and about 28” wide. I might not find something on the market, but I know enough woodworkers that I could get something custom for not too much money.

The news of Iain Banks’ terminal cancer is hitting a little close to home for me. I’m not ready to say that I’ve written my last book. I suppose I never will be, but I’m really not ready now.