My problem is that I find it much harder to concentrate while I am standing and I am writing much more code while sitting.
Curious about other opinions?
It's been excellent. I'd say I spend about half my time standing and half sitting on the stool. For me, rather than losing focus when I'm standing, sometimes I'll just pace around my office a bit, which I've found helps me think a lot, and obviously helps keep the blood flowing and the muscles loose.
Coding while walking was never a concentration problem for me, so I can only offer that as an anecdotal data point. It might be me, but maybe walking rather than standing makes it easier to concentrate?
There were plenty of downsides that make using the walking desk hard for me. I was working in games, and testing a 3d game while walking was often disorienting and would cause me to trip on myself or walk off the treadmill. Frequent visits and phone calls from other employees were more difficult to deal with than coding while walking. And a treadmill desk is bulky and noisy and hard to move around. I got the smallest setup I could find, and it still used up a lot more space than I expected.
My feet have "much" more of an arch in my feet than two years ago and the difference is noticeable.
I chuckled when I read that! I hope you didn't get hurt, of course, but it must have been quite funny for your coworkers.
Cheers for the post-lunch laugh :)
- 10 years experience in service industry.
I've actually exercised a lot my whole life and never been able to lose weight that way. If I don't track my intake, I end up compensating for exercise by eating more. I've only been able to lose weight by counting calories.
I'm kind of the opposite to you, where, when I realize I'm losing focus, I'll switch to standing and try to squeeze out a little more focus before relenting and taking a break. Sometimes that will get me right back into the groove and next thing I know it, I've been coding for another two hours.
That's not to say I don't take breaks throughout the day, but focus can be a bit tougher to maintain on some days. Switching my desk definitely helps.
I've been meaning to try the treadmill hack to get a slow treadmill under my desk. Unfortunately, at 6'6" (2m), I'm not sure this desk (or any automated standing desk) is tall enough for me to get a treadmill underneath and still have my desk at a comfortable height.
I don't think sit-stand desk is such a good idea. Sitting and standing for long periods of time is not good for your health.
Here is the way I work, it's like a game...
+ Work in 30 minutes intervals where you only sit.
+ Have a timer (e.g. Google Calendar) that let's you know your time is up.
+ To get another 30 minutes of work, you have to workout for 2-3 minutes.
+ Have a set of 10-15 pounds dumbbells next to your desk and just workout for 3 minutes. My favorite workout is "goblet squat". You can learn the proper forms from YouTube.
+ You have more focus!
+ You won't waste time solving problems that does not matter because you have worked hard for that 30 minutes ;)
+ You'll become stronger! Your body starts to make muscles.
+ You will never get tired from sitting!
+ You'll be ... OPS... my time is up I have to workout...
I have had a standing desk for about seven years. For what it's worth, I only work at a desk about 10-15 hours per week.
I have found that I feel best when cycling between standing, sitting and lying down. In fact, there are certain kinds of work that I find myself completing more efficiently and enjoyably in different physical configurations. I like to stand at my desk for phone calls and support interactions but I like to lie down on my couch for research/reading.
I have indeed found that standing for 4-6 hours doesn't feel all that great, but in different ways that sitting for 4-6 hours doesn't feel great. So I have a standing desk, a chair, and a couch and cycle between them depending on what kind of work I am doing.
You do you, I'm glad it works, but sit/standing can be done healthily too.
1. Get a padded mat or soft shoe inserts
2. Don’t force yourself to stand 100% of the time
3. Always start your day standing
I also wrote about how to modify your existing desk or build/buy a standing desk. I haven't taken pictures of my standing desks since ~2014 but my setup hasn't changed much.
In general I am getting more and more envious of people who have a job that allows them to move around a lot. Being in one place the whole day just plain sucks, be it sitting or standing.
- I find it difficult to stand for long periods of time, much more difficult than walking or running for the same duration of time. I tend to get tired of standing after about 40 minutes, and just want to sit down. I can run for hours.
- I find it more difficult to concentrate. If I need to really think about a hard implementation, or a tricky design solution, I find my desire to sit down is very strong.
Negatives aside, I actually wish I used it more.
As I've gotten older, I've noticed lower back pain at night when sleeping. Researching the problem, it appears the culprit is tight hamstrings. Sitting for prolonged period can cause tight hamstrings, leading to lower back pain. In the past couple of weeks, I've been stretching and rolling my hamstrings, and trying to stand more. The results have been very promising: The more I stretch, and the more I stand, the less pain I have at night.
I just wish I could stand for longer periods. There's something about it that my body doesn't like, it's just draining.
Not really, but the problem you describe is usually a sign of problems with posture.
An orthopaedic will be able to identify any posture issues easily.
We deal with posture when the problem is substantial/visible, but most people have subtle orthopaedic issues which can be the root cause of other, bigger problems and don't know about it until it's too late.
It took me a week or so to get used to standing for long periods at a time. For the first couple of days it was brutal enough that I was wondering "wtf am I thinking doing this", but it got easier and easier with each day. Of course, everyone's different, and everyone's mileage will vary.
Standing for long periods is just generally uncomfortable and exhausting for me. I find that I end up resting my weight on one leg, because it's less fatiguing than standing.
I know what I would be thinking if I were you - This guy must be so out of shape if he can't even stand at a desk for a few hours!
That's what's so confusing about all this to me... I'm not overweight (BMI of ~19), I exercise 4-5 times a week, I eat healthy... I just find standing for long periods to be difficult and uncomfortable. But I would really like to do it more, because I do have back pain at night, and standing DOES help reduce that. So... maybe I should get one of those mats, just to see if it helps?
See my setup. https://www.dropbox.com/s/089qqvaa7j5ob77/office_setup.jpg
I've lost a lot of weight with this setup. Still have a long way to go.
I've found the key to concentration is walking slow. It has a max speed of 4MPH (which is way too fast). I walk at a pace of 1.2 - 1.4 mph. I walk in segments of 25 minutes. Break for 5. Longer breaks every 4 cycles. (Pomodoro Technique)
I look at this as in investment in my health. It's paid off already, in big ways.
I have been using a treadmill desk for 2 years and it one of the best purchases I ever made. I set a goal for myself to walk a measly 2 miles a day at any pace. This small bit of exercise often ends up setting the tone for my entire day. It's a baseline accomplishment that helps me control my diet, go to the gym more often and be more proactive in most aspects of my life.
It's sort of like having good sleep hygiene. It's not going to solve all your problems directly but it has a noticeable effect on almost everything you do.
1. How much does your words per minute drop while on the treadmill?
2. What effect does walking while working have on your mind? I.e., a lot of people (myself included) need to pace to clear our minds. Can you clear your mind on that treadmill? Does walking while working distract you very much?
What does work well for me is a treadmill desk. Once you get used to it (it took me a few days) you don't even notice that you're walking. I do find that I have to pause the treadmill to work on particularly difficult problems (I do both front-end and back-end on LAMP-oriented sites), but most of the time my brain can handle both.
edit to add: I work from home, which makes a big difference, I understand that a treadmill desk isn't viable for everyone.
I have noticed that I switch between the two positions really often. Having a fast lifting mechanism (mine uses springs/gas canisters with a hand brake) is essential, since it makes the transition fast enough to not interrupt any flow I have going.
My only real complaint is that when standing, any bump of the desktop is magnified through the monitor arms, making them jump around alot. Not a big deal, but when it happens it's annoying.
For cramping legs, I have an officemate who uses this:
My final recommendation for office workers is to hit the gym with a qualified personal trainer who understands flexibility and range of motion. If you spend most of your day at a desk I will almost guarantee that you have http://www.physio-pedia.com/Low_Back_Pain_Related_to_Hyperlo... caused by your quads spending most of the day contracted leading them to be tight. Working to extend your hip range of motion and core strength will pay dividends in everything you want to do.
The biggest issue for me is foot fatigue. I now use 2 anti-fatigue mats - a rubber lower mat (Genuine Joe Anti Fatigue Mat), and a foam upper (Imprint Cumulus9 Kitchen Mat Nantucket Series). Without these there is no way I could handle more than 6 hours. However, even with them, I still have sore feet after 10-12 hours (8 hours is ok). Another useful component of a standing desk is a foot stool to periodically shift weight around.
You might want to try Crocs shoes. I found them to work very well for me, even without mats.
I tend not to really get into a flow state while standing, but it's good for briefly knocking out tasks like email or minor changes.
* Start slow. If possible, alternate standing and sitting on a comfortable interval while your legs and back get used to being engaged more.
* Bring your monitor(s) up to eye-level. If you are looking down at a laptop while standing, your neck and upper back will suffer. Search for laptop risers and get an external keyboard and mouse.
* Make a point to sit down for lunch. That short break makes a big difference in standing for the rest of the day.
* To change up my stance, I have a sturdy shelf built in to my desk that I can put a foot up on. Try a stepping stool if your desk doesn’t have one.
* Get an anti-fatigue mat. It will save your feet and knees from unnecessary strain.
I love it; and move sporadically between standing and sitting. Standing is better for conference calls.
Writing prose, emails, books, and blog posts are better done sitting down.
In terms of writing code, I could go either way.
Often switching between standing and sitting is a really good way to fix a problem I'm having focusing.
That said, I go through spurts where I stand a lot and spurts where I sit a lot; there is no real rhyme or reason, I'm not as religious about swapping every hour.
It surprising how natural it feels to stand and work at the desk, and once I get in a zone it doesn't matter if I'm down or up.
It's absolutely amazing, and it's so habitual now that I have a harder time concentrating when I'm not walking and typing (my legs get really restless).
A really nice side benefit is when I go running or hiking, even after a long spell of not running or hiking, I am far less sore doing it because of all the walking at work.
But I like standing for dealing with random little things (email and other reaction mode type stuff), and the standing desk also makes it a lot easier to show people things on your screen when they walk over.
For me the purpose was actually to relieve arm pain, because when you rest your arms against anything for extended periods of time, it aggravates the nerve and causes long-lasting pain from your fingers to your elbow and sometimes higher.
Overall I found it pretty helpful, not because I'm standing all the time, but because it encourages me to move around more (shift legs, walk away and come back, etc) which keeps me from being in a bad posture for too long at once.
The thing cost probably $250 to build out of parts from Menard's, using four 4x4s for the legs and a butcher block for the top, and some metal to keep them together. I'm not a handy guy so assembling it was too confusing and difficult and I almost swore I'd never build anything again in my life. But I'm glad I have this thing.
 standingdesk.image = https://www.dropbox.com/s/7acc2jkc6zgrow7/standingdesk.jpeg?...
we're also developing new accessories around the desk, like the anti-fatigue mat, so that your sit/stand experience would be better throughout the day.
we're also working on a software component that reminds you when to stand or sit to maximize your productivity. we'll release it in a couple of months, and hopefully, it will be helpful to you.
if anyone has any suggestion on how to make sit/stand experience great at work, would love to hear from you. my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regarding concentration, I'm reminded of an interesting article about concentration and standing desks: https://qz.com/957311/why-cant-i-focus-using-a-standing-desk...
"When standing in an office—especially one where others are sitting—your range of vision is far wider; you can see a lot more faces from a higher vantage point than you do sitting down. The more people you can see both directly and peripherally, the more faces you are unconsciously trying to interpret. And the more you process this information, the more likely you are to take those emotions on yourself."
I've avoided this problem by facing a partition where I can't see anyone and wearing noise-canceling headphones.
Having said that, I don't know if my health or anything like that improved significantly by standing.
I love working while standing, but...
I work mostly at home (and we don't wear shoes in the house). I have a standing pad, but my heels were bottoming out to the floor and eventually started experiencing heel pain. I started wearing padded slippers on top of the pad, but by that time it was a little too late. I developed plantar fasciitis in both feet. It was worse in my left foot than my right foot. My right foot has cleared up, and I'm working on stretching exercises to help clear up the left foot and have been making progress.
I am currently using a drafting stool until my left foot gets better. I really miss standing. In fact, I'm itching to get back to standing. I will be making a couple of major changes. I now wear Crocs while standing. I get that they're fugly, but they are in my experience, the most comfortably padded shoes for the price. I use the ones designed for people who work in restaurants, and they're great. I feel no pressure on my heels when using them. I also plan on alternating into sitting a little more often.
If you're thinking of getting the IKEA hand cranked desk, be aware that the table top that comes with it is not solid. I originally wanted to cut a hole in it to permanently mount my dual monitor stand, but doing so would have compromised the structural integrity of the table top.
From what I gather, foot problems are common with people who move to a standing only setup, so take some actions to mitigate this if you can.
For this exact reason, I made my own tabletop. I went to Home Depot, bought a big piece of hardboard (4ft x 8ft x 2in) and had them cut it to size. I bought a random orbital sander, a can of stain, and some spray-on top coat. I rounded the corners with the sander, wiped down the wood, stained it with 2 layers, and sprayed on 2 layers of top coat. Desk is waterproof, light, and much more sturdy than particle board. Total cost (not including time and labor): $85
My focus is about the same from what I can tell, and I actually prefer to stand.
While standing I shift my weight and move my legs which, according to my doctor, is the point of sit/stand desks. They promote/accommodate physical activivty while working at a desk.
That said, my focus while in the office is very low overall because I work in an open office. So, whether sitting or standing, I have to deal with visual distractions and filter conversations with headphones and generated noise.
So like the OP, my body and health benefit enormously from sit/stand and if my concentration suffers, it is not to such a degree that it is noticeable due to other environmental factors.
I will say that I preferred my treadmill desk. Standing can be a little tiring. I use a mat and good shoes, but I still feel it in my hips at the end of the day. (I'm about to turn 50).
With the treadmill desk, I could feel it in my calves and thighs, but it felt good and was much less tiring. The treadmill was just too heavy to move when we came to Texas, but I hope to have one again.
I never had any trouble concentrating on the treadmill. I do find myself sitting to think sometimes from the standing desk, but I think that is the soreness issue in another form.
I usually alternate standing and sitting in 80+% standing / 20-% sitting split. I ront feel guilty when I go home and sit on the couch for a bit, my intestines and other organs feel much better now after standing as sitting prolonged hours seemed to squeeze them leading to discomfort. So overall I feel better. Much better.
Initializing a spout of heavy concentration can be difficult while standing up, but once I get going I lose myself in to it.
But I also recommend once every 30 minutes doing some frantic jumping or whatever to move you heart rate up for a minute or two. A timer is good for that.
What is interesting in my poor man setup is that my mouse is lower than my keyboard by maybe 25-30 cm, which I have found to be quite comfortable position.
I wish I had room for a treadmill in my office, but I don't.
Topo standing mat was $50ish and worth every penny. I can stand for about 15 minutes without one and 2 hours with.
My honest suggestion for back pain is a better chair with stronger lumbar support. Also check your posture. The combination honestly changed my life. You would be shocked how much of a difference it can make.
I don't think I have worse concentration while standing unless I've been standing for awhile and my feet are staring to hurt, which makes me a bit more restless. Another thing I've noticed is that people seem to find me more approachable when I'm standing. They seem to strike up conversations more often, whereas when I'm sitting I must look like I'm working hard and shouldn't be bothered.
Overall, I'm very happy to have one and would recommend a standing desk to anyone, provided they have the option to sit as they please.
For what it's worth, I don't perceive any difference in my ability to concentrate or be effective while standing, with some caveats:
* With the unfortunate advent of glossy-screened displays, there can be additional glare at a standing height. You may want to evaluate whether your concentration problem is related to the amount of glare or outright reflections of nearby activity you are perceiving on your display. For me, it was important to get semi-matte displays (truly matte is ever harder to find these days) and orient the displays to minimize glare. Side rant: hardware manufacturers, please make matte displays mainstream again.
* My desk was quickly hand-built out of plywood and is non-adjustable. It was intended to be experimental but I've used it for about two years now. My intent is to replace it with a hardwood fixture soon. If you aren't interested in splurging for an adjustable desk, don't make a stupid mistake I made: I forgot to factor in the height of the keyboard itself (approximately 1.5 inches for my mechanical keyboard) when planning the height of the desk. I measured the distance away from the floor that I wanted my hands to be at, but forgot that in practice they would be 1.5 inches higher. This is a continuous annoyance making me look forward to replacing this "temporary" desk.
* As others have said, a gel pad may be helpful. I think this may be a matter of taste. I personally use one, but I sometimes move it away since it can cause a weird "floating" sensation at times.
* I do a lot of periodic movement while I am working or thinking. I squat, leg-lift, walk, sway, stand on one foot, etc. I feel this helps keep me from feeling "locked up" in a standing position.
* If you can situate your desk so that you are back up against a wall, you can also do a lean-back arrangement which is pretty comfortable.
It helps me stay "active and focused" on taking control of what I'm doing ... which is super for making sure I get started with actual work rather than drifting off onto some lazy web surfing or whatever.
And then, after getting properly into my work (opened the IDE / tmux/vim setup and started to code), I tend to slip down in my seat pretty quickly, to get into proper un-distracted focus.
Getting back to standing mode occasionally if getting too drowsy etc.
I started my standing experiment with an ikea hack (just a small lack table with a shelf attached for a keyboard). I liked it enough that i invested in an ergotron (I work from home, so my bought my desk setup). I made the decision to invest when I realized I had switched from "okay let me sit down and get to work" to "okay, time to work, let me stand up and get to it".
I still sit during the day, whenever I get tired or something, and when I am not at home I am unable to stand for as long - I think the foam pad makes a huge difference.
I have been standing primarily now for over a year and even converted my home gaming computer desk to a standing desk. Yep I stand while pc gaming...lol.
It really helps me feel better, back issues aside, because I feel like I am moving more. Even just the switching feet position.
The only advice I have is to get a good padded mat. I started without one and it was painful on my feet and legs.
I had knee surgery a few weeks back trying to solve the problem, which has forced me to be sitting all day, but I've been counting the days until I can be back at my standing desk.
Instead of a chair, I built a leaning stool out of an old cane. Takes up less space than a chair and easier to transition to as well.
My sit/stand desk solved that issue and when I'm standing I feel a lot more focused. Even if in the end I'm not moving that much more than while seated, it feels like a world of difference to just be able to step around and move my legs a bit.
I deal with that by shifting weight balance (by leaning, or putting one foot on a box or up against the wall) and I have a pretty comfy mat to stand on. If it's uncomfortable I'll just switch to sitting for a while.
I also walk ~3 miles a day.
Read this about APT: http://www.anteriorpelvictilthq.com/anterior-pelvic-tilt/, not saying you have it, but it's possible. I had back pain for a long time because I thought I was "standing up straight". Really I was arching my lower back really badly and it caused all the pain. Did the same thing when driving. Once I realized what it was, I was able to correct it and now the pain is not nearly as bad.
Hanging helped a little and so did the traction machine at the sports medicine doctor, aka Chiropractor. Things like that only helped until I got to the root of the problem.
I hope this helps in some way and your back gets better.
EDIT: Also, when you go to get something off the ground, go down to one knee instead of squatting down, that one was straight from the doctor and actually helped a lot.
Definitely would not go back to just sitting.
People should note that with any new position it takes a little time for your body to adjust to the new position. So if you are standing, your legs will hurt for a week or two. But then you will get over it.
Your ability to concentrate while standing will improve over time, but for certain tasks like intense coding, I often prefer to sit, even after this many years.
I have an Ikea Bekant desk with motorized adjustment and probably alternate 2-3 times a day.
I used to have this problem as well. Over time, my body adjusted and now standing is so natural, I have trouble working if I am sitting. That process took about 6 months. I've been standing for about 4 years now and have a gel pad for the floor.
I find that in long stretches of work I really need to switch between standing and sitting else I become irritated. When I work outside home I'm most productive at a specific cafe that has both standup and sit down tables.
I also noticed I drink a bit more water and move around a little bit more since there isn't the "get up from sitting" process.
I have a Humanscale Float (non-electric adjustable sit/stand desk) and I love it. It was a bit expensive but being able to very quickly transition between sitting and standing means I'm more likely to do it.
For me there's a huge difference in focusing while standing and while sitting. I start the day with emails and busy work while standing and sit after I really start to dig in to a problem that needs focus.
We do use them more often when someone swings by your desk to look at some code or troubleshoot. Having everyone at the same height balances the dynamic and makes the screens easier to see.
I have never had any problems concentrating—once I actually get focussed, I completely stop noticing that I'm standing.
Not really related to standing desks, more my workout (though I've found sitting for long periods of time with runner's knee no more comfortable than standing. Sometimes it was worse). Anyway thanks!
I have the opposite experience, if you're a fidget-y ADHD person, standing desks can be great. Sitting in a chair all day is torture.
Also invest in an anti-fatigue mat IMO.
I also find it hard to write code when standing so I use standing position mostly for reading, calls, standups etc. when I want to get in the "zone" - only sitting + headphones works for me.
I think all of these solutions miss one of the problems with working at a desk: you're sedentary, and that's ultimately bad for the heart. I can't find a source at the moment, but I read an article here a while ago by the AMA which did an investigation into the effects of sitting/being still. They said that it's better to just move more (and spend a much reduced time sitting) than it is to sit slightly less and engage in intensive exercise.
Humans haven't evolved to be spending eight hours a day sitting in roughly the same place with breaks for coffee. Just like lack of exercise, it's poisoning.
And yes, exercising definitely helps with most, if not all the posture problems. Make sure your exercise program involves some good stretching and strength workouts.
What desks are you using and do you have any recommendations?
I was thinking of making something similar to the gaze desk. I just need to find the right hardware for it.
No. I use Ergotron arms (http://www.ergotron.com/en-us/) for my MacBook and external monitor. Everything is always at the right height regardless of whether I'm sitting or standing.
Here's a picture of my setup:
Also do you think it will last 3-5 years?
My second one was purchased used on craigslist. It is more than 3 years old, and still "like new".
Probably a mobility issue. The pain is similar as if I try to do an overhead press.
I have been squatting for 60 seconds twice a day. I should probably try hanging too. Any other ideas ?
Hanging helped a little and so did the traction machine at the sports medicine doctor, aka Chiropractor. Things like that only helped until I got to the root of the problem.
Deadlifts are amazing to strengthen the lower back muscles. I used to have lower back pain from mountain biking (which can be typical of the sport), and after I took up weightlifting that pain mostly went away.
Awesome standup chair with a balance ball that makes you move your back all the time and creates energy, and thus prohibits stiffness in the back and neck. They also have a standing board for a good combo.
similar experience. i find sitting with good posture more comfortable and better on the knees
I crank out volume when I stand.
Switching between them is pretty great.
 Robin A. McKenzie, "Treat Your Own Back".
Otoh, the McKenzie book is very concise and gets you started almost immediately.
There are ones that have a preset, and I wish mine had that option.
Then about a year ago I tried going without, and found I didn't need them anymore.
So basically I suggest using them when you're getting started, but after that do whatever works for you.
I'm otherwise pretty happy with it, but it's my home desk not my work one. If you're looking for a desk to use for full time work I'd recommend an electric or something with a counterweight or spring system to allow easier changes between sitting and standing.
I have another setup with an Ergotron Workfit (can be lifted up and down) but I find that the position is more adjustable with my mirror-screen version. With the Ergotron the position of the hands relative to screen is fixed so eye-screen distance can't be adjusted as well as I'd like. Also screen height doesn't go as high as I'd like.
What's your age and how active are you?