How to Switch to a Standing Desk

The benefits of stand-up or standing desks have been well-documented, and many offices are slowly making the transition from traditional sitting desks. Standing desks, as their name suggests, allow the user to stand while working, raising the desk surface to a comfortable level. Numerous studies show that this style of workstation can make you more productive, decrease the risk of lower back and leg pain — and even add years to your life.

These desks can be expensive, however, and it takes time to switch out your old desk for the new. If you work in an office, it may be difficult to convince your employer to fund or even allow the transition, although that may change as standing desks continue to gain popularity. Regardless of these obstacles, there are many do-it-yourself solutions that can help you switch to a standing desk.

How to Start

If you’re used to sitting for a full work day, it will probably difficult and uncomfortable for you to completely ditch your chair and stand for hours at a time. Instead, start by taking standing breaks throughout the day to get used to being on your feet. Eventually, you’ll find that you can stand for longer periods of time; you may then want to reverse the pattern, instead standing most of the day and taking short sitting breaks. One of the major discomforts associated with stand up desks is foot and leg pain, so you’ll want to select comfortable shoes, and perhaps consider a padded mat.

Work With What You’ve Got

If buying an adjustable standing desk doesn’t fit your budget, or if you just aren’t ready to commit to the idea yet, there are plenty of other options to try. There are inexpensive monitor and laptop stands on the market that can be used to raise your computer up. (These don’t always offer a workspace, however, so if you need a full desk area, try placing raised shelves on your existing desk.)

You can also place your desk on platforms that will lift it higher. If you opt for this method, though, be careful to make sure that your desk is stable and doesn’t wobble when you’re working.

Existing raised surfaces, like bookshelves or even counter space, can also make good improvised standing desks, especially if you’re working with a laptop. Whatever surface you pick, try to look for something that will bring your computer up to about chest level. Ideally, you want to be able to look straight ahead, so that you don’t have to strain your neck looking up or down for long periods of time.

The Next Step

Some people have decided to take the idea of a standing desk even further, and have created the “treadmill desk.” This variation of the standing desk not only places your workstation at a standing level, it also puts you on a treadmill, so that you walk at a slow pace to keep you active throughout your workday. There are commercially available treadmill desks with some added features — like easily accessible controls — that make this potentially risky workspace safer and easier to use.

The Internet is full of DIY solutions for both standing desks and treadmill desks, so if you can’t justify spending the money, get creative and look for inspiration. A standing desk will help you fight off back pain and burn extra calories while working.

Have you made the transition to a standing desk? Please share your experience and suggestions in the comments!