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Cornell Ergonomics Web finds standing desks present their own issues (cornell.edu)
219 points by johnkary on Sept 14, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 108 comments

> In our field studies of sit-stand workstations we have found little evidence of widespread benefits and users only stand for very short-periods (15 minutes or less total per day). Other studies have found that the use of sit-stand stations rapidly declines so that after 1 month a majority of people are sitting all the time.

So sit-stand desks are a bad solution because people don't actually use them? What's wrong with this logic?

Of course when they are a novelty, people will try them out and then fall back into old habits.

Here in Denmark practically every office worker in every workplace has a sit-stand desk, and so I have many years of experience observing this. About ten percent (my rough estimate) actually use them, but those that do use them a lot, and stand between 25-50% of the time.

I would not work anywhere without one, simple as that. I even got one for my home office (they are available from many dealers here).

So sit-stand desks are a bad solution because people don't actually use them? What's wrong with this logic?

It's not bad logic if you consider more contexts than just you deciding whether or not to use a sit-stand desk on your own. If most people don't actually use the standing feature of these desks, then this would make the desks a bad solution for an organization trying to find ways to boost the health and morale of its employees. Why spend the money if nobody will use it?

However, for a motivated individual who is willing to use them (like me), it is irrelevant if "most" people don't bother to use the stand feature of their sit-stand workstations.

Swede here. Close to everybody has had electric sit-standing desks at my workplace for as long as I know. I've been using sit-standing desks for close to ten years. My use has increased over the years. Now I find it more comfortable to stand than to sit and i use it roughly 80% of the time.

I'd estimate around 25% of the other workers actually use them for standing.

I'm using a large EFG desk. They are available here: http://goo.gl/6YmHR

Can you recommend any models available to be shipped to the States or for purchase here?

European Furniture Group has an international site. Check it out: http://goo.gl/6YmHR

I don't get it: the actual study (which they even link to) appears to draw the exact opposite conclusion:


See page 29 especially, and the graphs starting on page 19.

In addition to poo-pooing their own study, as a physician, I was concerned about the statement that atherosclerotic disease increased 9 times in standing. here's that study. The reality is in the Tables 2 and 3: it only comes out as a factor if you already have the disease, even after controlling for physical labor, psychosocial factors, income, behavior, and biology, standing is unrelated.


Basically, I don't think this would change my advice to a patient one way or another, and my default advise is "stand more, walk more, please do something besides sit on your butt all day."

For patients with symptomatic atherosclerosis, their beds are made already.

Wow. You're right. Even as early on as the abstract, the "conclusion" of the study seems to be the complete opposite of what I think is more accurately described as a "policy document"

--- > This report describes results for a study of electric height-adjustable worksurfaces (EHAWs) conducted in two companies. A total of 33 computer workers from the two companies worked at fixed-height worksurfaces (FHWs) and then at EHAWs for between 4 and 6 weeks. Participants completed extensive survey questionnaires immediately before and then 4-6 weeks after using the EHAWs. Results showed significant decreases in the severity of musculoskeletal discomfort for most upper body regions. In the EHAW condition daily discomfort ratings were lower in the afternoon and productivity ratings improved. Written comments about the EHAWs generally were positive. There was a strong preference for using the EHAWs. Implications are discussed.

     *significant decreases in the severity of musculoskeletal discomfort
     *daily discomfort ratings were lower
     *productivity ratings improved
     *strong preference for using the EHAWs

Corporate policy is often based on more than just study results. In this case, maybe the internal ergonomics department looked at the cost associated with outfitting everyone's desk with electric motors and decided against officially declaring them a good thing.

Thanks for reading the original source. I had a bad "feeling" about the article, I know it's on a Cornell website, but it doesn't come across as an actual study of any sort.

The ergonomics department's conclusion seems much cheaper for them, though...

Even if the claim that the risk of carotid atherosclerosis is nine times higher among people who stand more (which is dubious [1]), looking at overall risk of death makes more sense.

""" Time spent sitting and physical activity were queried by questionnaire on 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were disease free at enrollment. The authors identified 11,307 deaths in men and 7,923 deaths in women during the 14-year follow-up. After adjustment for smoking, body mass index, and other factors, time spent sitting (≥6 vs. <3 hours/day) was associated with mortality in both women (relative risk = 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.25, 1.44) and men (relative risk = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.24). """


[1] below: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2995821

I dislike it when articles make bizarre statements and take it for granted that the audience should accept it. Like:

But, standing to work has long known to be problematic, it is more tiring, it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (ninefold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy.

Where do they get that?? Citations, please! It took me a bit to find all the background research and read up on it. Interesting stuff.

That being said, still prefer the standing desk. My standing desk at home is right by my bed, so it's really easy to fall back and change my position when needed, and I'm worried about carotid atherosclerosis or varicose veins. :)

See also what the book 59 has to say about lying down and creativity. :)

Some background info I found for anyone more interested in this.



""" Significant relationships were found between the amount of standing at work and atherosclerotic progression. After adjustment for the heaviness of the work, psychosocial job factors, income, and biological and behavioral risk factors, the mean change in maximum IMT for those standing not at all, a little, a lot, and very much was 0.24, 0.25, 0.28, and 0.33 mm, respectively. For men with IHD the respective changes were 0.08, 0.15, 0.37, and 0.75 mm -- a 9-fold difference between the no-exposure and high-exposure group. For the men with carotid stenosis, the respective difference was 3-fold. """

Do I read this correctly in saying that for men without IHD, the ones who stood all day had their artery walls thicken by 0.33mm over four years while those who stood not at all had theirs thicken by 0.24mm? And that the nine-fold increase is only for people with ischaemic heart disease? So the article is wrong: it's not 900% but 37% in people who don't have IHD?

The idea is that thicker artery walls are associated with heart disease, right? Is there reason to believe the relationship is linear? Otherwise we can't say that because we saw a nine-fold difference in delta IMT that we expect a ninefold increase in risk.

> The idea is that thicker artery walls are associated with heart disease, right?

Right, except, if you've every scrubbed in for a carotid endarterectomy, the culprit is a lesion full of cholesterol and inflammation, not a diffuse thickening.

> Is there reason to believe the relationship is linear?

Well, yes and no. Things that cause atherosclerosis tend to have linear relationships with the disease. So if you find a new relationship, you expect it to be linear. Problem is, their analysis has to pile on a lot of other stuff before you find a relationship. And "Have the disease" is a pretty big step function compared to the other things they control for. Notice also that N goes way down in those severe subgroup analyses (tables 2 and 3)

The slideshow appears to be an extended ad for an automatic foot massager.

Hehe, yeah, I realized that after I read through it. But I found the first couple of slides interesting. Maybe I should edit it out. But I did find the first few slides interesting.

Atkins diets and standing desks aren't going to fix more fundamental issues with a pervasively unhealthy culture.

True. Instead of obsessing over whether we should sit in place for 10 hours straight, or stand in place for 10 hours straight, we should think about moving around a bit. Walk around the office floor every now and then. Trade a few emails for in-person stop-bys. Keep a refillable coffee cup or glass of water, and walk to the farthest kitchen or breakroom for refills each time. Pace the halls like a crazy person when brainstorming. Etc.

To a large degree, sedentary is sedentary, no matter how you dress it up. Our bodies did not evolve to sit (or stand) in a fixed location for most of the waking day. And our brain's health is highly correlated with cardiovascular health.

This is a bit of a broadside against two really positive trends.

-The Atkins diet has some serious flaws (in short: not enough vegetables, not enough warning against harmful fats/oils/processing) but deserves real credit for the ongoing movement away from processed carbohydrates. He exposed the fallacy of associating dietary fat with body fat. He probably had more right than the 80's and 90's health establishment (that food pyramid was an abomination).

-The modern white-collar workplace is an absolutely bizarre environment for a species that's been without anything resembling a "building" for something like %99 of its history, let alone artificial light, computing metaphors or office chairs - experimentation with ergonomics and the whole enterprise of spending our waking hours indoors should be encouraged, not treated dismissively.

I agree, our culture's unhealthiness is such that no incremental improvement in our lifestyle can make us incrementally healthier.

How can an incremental improvement in our lifestyle NOT make us incrementally healthier?

I find that if I restate someone's argument absurdly and preface my statement with "I agree", people are less likely to see me as an antagonist and more likely laugh at themselves. (This is actually one of my favorite tactics for productive disagreement.)

I think he may have been saying this sarcastically.

I too thought he was being sarcastic, but then I noticed there was a complete lack of smilies and rejected the notion as absurd.

Wait, so, is that comment sarcastic? It has no smileys...

This group collectively gave me the only vocal chuckle I've had today. Thanks :)

Maybe linear would be more appropriate than incremental as in: not all improvements in our lifestyle will have the same impact on our health. If you stand up and move every 20-30 minutes but you eat sugary and fatty food all the time, the improvement of your small breaks will be marginal in the long run compared to all the other problems you'll get. On the other hand, if you sit down all day but eat healthier food (good fat, more proteins, less calories, fibers), the benefits of this lifestyle will be greater.

Stress management and reduction also comes to mind (of course taking a small break and moving around can help that).

I agree. Balanced nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not just a sit-stand desk, and "walking around". I would argue that the effects of a sit-stand desk only mask the true, underlying problem of overall poor health choices.

I suspect that was the joke.

These "sitting studies" condition on a person's lifestyle, i.e. given two people who are both active outside of work, the person who sits more has a greater risk of problems than the one who doesn't.

I'm sorry I don't have a citation (nor am I going to dig for one) but this has been mentioned ad nauseam in prior threads. You should check those out (as well as the studies they discuss).

I highly recommend kneeling chairs. You sit with your legs underneath you instead of in front of you, which puts your back at a much more natural angle (much like standing, actually) than a standard office chair. They're cheap (mine was $75) and very compact, so you can augment them with a "normaller" chair. Long hours in a kneeling chair can strain certain muscles (the small of my back gets a little tight), so I do recommend using a standard chair about %20 of the time.

I alternate between a cheap office chair and a cheap kneeling chair (something like this - http://www.amazon.com/Boss-Office-Products-Ergonomic-Kneelin...), switching if I feel any twinge of discomfort, and my back and neck feel great.

Without any evidence supporting its benefits, the kneeling chair is little more than another fad in cubicle ergonomics. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe the things that are good for you are the things that make you feel good. Lying on a comfortable, supportive mattress is good for you. Sitting in a good chair at your desk is good for you. Walking, and other, more vigorous exercises are good for you. Kneeling in a knee-chair...is a fad. Either show me the data supporting the health benefits or don't be offended when I dismiss out of hand your new productivity- and lifespan-booster.

So how does heroin sit in your value system ? Only considering first order effects is very naive.

Heroin is a short-circuit of the brain's reward system. It's a validation of my point, not a refutation. That reward system exists to make us feel good about things that enhance our survival. That means, throughout history, the vast preponderance of things that make us feel good (eating, exercise, sex, etc) are also evolutionarily beneficial. Sure, lately, we've become very good at targeting the pleasure without the effort required to achieve the benefit, but for things like posture I'd still contend that a comfortable position is likely the one that's best for your body. See: slouchers have less back problems than people who sit straight in their chairs.

Not much research has been done, but the most recent (2008) study concluded:

"This study suggests that ergonomically designed kneeling chairs set at +20 degrees inclination do maintain standing lumbar curvature to a greater extent than sitting on a standard computer chair with an overall mean difference of 7.633 degrees . Further research with a greater number of subjects and on different chair designs is warranted."


What gives you the impression that lying on a comfortable mattress is good for you? Comfortable and supportive aren't always the same thing, and neither one is particularly "good for you". Mattresses are really hard to get right. It depends on the shape of your spine, your weight, whether or not you have back problems (and which), and personal preference. There are trade-offs involved.

If you find evidence so important, I suggest you show me yours, as I find it to be strangely lacking. Ah, the irony.

There's a barefoot running movement stemming from research apparently indicating cushiony running sneakers leading to less healthy feet than running barefoot. Maybe the same could be true of bedding. Many Japanese today still sleep on thick cotton-stuffed pads laid on the floor, which is vastly firmer than most spring/foam mattresses.

This is only an anecdote, but my parents replaced our office chair with a kneeling chair when I was a kid to keep me from monopolizing the family computer.

Not only did their plan fail, I found that I could sit for hours in that chair where in other "office" chairs I was highly uncomfortable after 30 min.

Also studies and other's anecdotes are worth a pittance compared to rigorous experimentation on your own part as everyone's body reacts differently. I can't count the number of times my experience has run counter to "accepted wisdom".

+1 for kneeling chairs. I've Varier Gravity Balans http://www.varierfurniture.com/Collections/Human-instruments... and it totally rocks once you get used to it.

The central problem with kneeling chairs is that it's normal and necessary to subtly shift your sitting position on your chair with some frequency (often without even noticing), and kneeling chairs are not conducive to this since they effectively hold your legs in a fixed position.

Of course, if you're switching between two different styles of chair when you need to, that may well alleviate any problems.

I use a kneeling chair(a Varier Variable Balans[1]) and I change position a lot, actually I think I move more with this chair than with traditional chairs. And I can stretch my legs(one at the time of course) while maintaining the correct posture.

[1] http://www.varierfurniture.com/Collections/Human-instruments...

I tried a kneeling chair a while back. The pressure on my shins was unbearable to the point of being painful. I really wanted to like it but couldn't use it for more than a few minutes at a time.

The advice here is to sit for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a 2-minute walking break. This sort of schedule happens to correspond nicely with the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests 25 minutes of work followed by 5-minute breaks.


There is even a nice OS X app for that.

Moving around is really, really the best thing to do in a Pomodoro break. Every time I check Facebook or mail instead I regret it.

The downside is, I never figured out how to apply Pomodoro to research work or other stuff that has no discernible tasks - just feels weird then :(

I dunno, slacking off for (at least) 16.67% of time sounds a bit too much to me.

The point is that (1) most people are in fact going to slack off for at least that much time, and (2) doing so in a controlled way is actually beneficial to your performance when not slacking off.

The only evidence I know for these is anecdotal, but I'll take a substantial body of anecdotal evidence over "sounds a bit too much to me" any day.

That sounds like someone is having a massive laugh at everyone's expense.

Ask any professional chef and they'll tell you about the long-term consequences of standing all day at work. Varicose veins are disgusting and unhealthy.

> The problem with standing is that when you raise desk height for keyboard/mouse use you need to also raise screen height above the desk or you get neck flexion. Also, for standing computer work the computer fixes the person’s posture there is greater wrist extension and pretty soon people end up leaning which also compromises their wrist posture, thereby increasing the risks of a musculoskeletal disorder like carpal tunnel syndrome.

I don't understand this. In a proper sit-and-stand configuration the torso, arms and head ought to be in almost exactly the same position relative to the monitor, keyboard and table whether the user is sitting or standing, no?

For traditional cubicles and traditional desks (i.e. no keyboard tray, no monitor stand), this doesn't happen. I get the impression that they're talking about that kind of situation. But if they are, then the sit scenario has issues they're failing to address. I agree, who uses a standing desk but has the monitor at the same level as the keyboard/mouse? That's just irrational.

Happy standing desk user (well, customizable IKEA bookshelf, LOL).

What this tells me is that the perfect work environment is a Catholic Mass.

Many moons ago, my engineering school had classrooms full of wooden drafting tables (not unlike this: http://www.plotter-printers.com/oak-drafting-tables-2/ ). I cannot find online a picture similar to the wooden stools we had: tall, square seat slightly tilted forward at perhaps a 15 degree angle, cross-bars usable as foot-rests.

(Later, of course, "progress" occurred and the furniture was replaced with plastic chairs and tables.)

Like this? http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/bizchair1_2174_1598485773

I've always wondered if these are comfortable or not.

On that one, the lack of foot rests looks very uncomfortable.

My old ones were somewhat like this: http://www.officechairsforless.com/Square-Bar-Stool-ES25VS3....

Except sturdier, unpadded, and slightly tilted forward. They were also slightly pyramidal, resulting in a somewhat narrow seat but making the stool very stable.

P.S. Just found these: http://www.worthingtondirect.com/tables/solid_oak_stool_by_g... . The 30" one is probably closest functionally - I think one just has to slide off the seat to be standing up.

I was wondering about this. I've been trialing a standing desk - the best part is if you are thinking about a problem you tend to walk, where as if you're sitting down you just tilt your head to the side.

But after 4 hours or so I find I get a sore back. I've been "mixin it up"... standing for an hour, sitting for a couple of hours. Or sitting in the morning, standing after lunch... so far it feels pretty good, but I'm keeping some (quite subjective) stats to check out how it goes in the longer term.

I'm having the same experience; I've read a bunch of reports from people stating that their back pain vanishes, while I've found sometimes my (minimal) back pain can get worse on some days.

I don't have the option of swapping it around; my "standing desk" is a regular desk with cardboard boxes and telephone books stacked on top ( http://instagr.am/p/MUmlP/ ). At this point I can't get a new regular chair, let alone a high stool, unfortunately.

I'm giving it a week; after then I'll decide whether to switch back or not.

Give it a bit more.

I've tried this for about a week now, and it's become better already, but not all side effects are gone. It's actually been harder to concentrate for this while due to sore legs...

I think I will stick to it but need another week or so to decide.

"about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes"

Sounds like an unintentional endorsement for the Pomodoro technique. Just get up on your break.

Sit down, do your work, drink a lot of water, walk to the bathroom.

Or maybe I just have the bladder of an 8 year old boy?

Everyone seems to use a standing desk to stand, I use a standing desk to walk. Standing still will definitely murder my back, while walking feels comfortable and natural. Long term effects might be bad, but sitting down just feels uncomfortable after a while, even on very good ergonomic chairs.

As the article says, it's hard to type while walking.

I don't actually walk, since a treadmill takes up too much space, but I do shallow side squats and similar exercises while working. I'm a bit hyperactive and found this helps me stay focused better. What you need to do to type easily while doing this is have your desk so that it supports your forearms solidly so your body's movement (and there always is some movement of your shoulders and upper arms when you move your legs) is not transmitted to your hands. I am not an especially fast typist though and someone who is may have a bit more trouble, or may be slowed somewhat.

No it isn't. I've been doing that for 3+ years (on and off, now i'm doing it more, because it feels better). Nothing hard about it, from day one.

I've been wondering about something similar myself - do you walk the entire time you're working? If so, do you use a combination of a standing desk and a treadmill, or something similar? Do you find it tiring to do for 7-8 hours, and does it give you any other problems, e.g. with your feet?

Yes I walk the entire time and I don't find it tiring; I do tread lightly and walk on bear feet. I don't use a treadmill either; I walk in-place which is much (for me) less tiring than a treadmill which takes starting up and ending. In place walking (even on a WII board which counts what i'm doing) is very comfortable IMHO.

Thank you for your reply, that's interesting - I hadn't considered walking on the spot.

I wonder if they considered at all the effects of lying down?

When I work from home, I love being able to take lie flat on the floor for a bit and rest my back AND legs for a short period.

You need a ceiling-mounted computer screen (though a ceiling projection might be safer). That might actually work at home, but it would be a little freaky if everyone worked laying down at the office. :)

Another cue to place my twitter bot: http://twitter.com/officeworkout - tweets an exercise every 30 minutes.

Those are some funny 'exercises'. One practice I adopted is to do all my printing in the printer which is 2nd closer to my office. That way every time I print (which is quite often as I read lots of C.S. papers) I have to walk about 40 steps.

I'll add that to the list, thanks! :)

In our field studies of sit-stand workstations we have found little evidence of widespread benefits and users only stand for very short-periods (15 minutes or less total per day). Other studies have found that the use of sit-stand stations rapidly declines so that after 1 month a majority of people are sitting all the time.

While this contradict my personal experience, I do trust the studies.

every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE

I also believe this will no more work than sit-stand workstations. Every 20 minutes, walk to the water fountain or somewhere else for 2 minutes, will turn any large office into a non-stop walkathon. And just like people end up sitting all day with sit-stand desks, people will end up sitting all day with this setup.

I suppose employers could hardwire a loud buzzer to go off every 20 minutes, but I just don't see that happening on any large scale.

Personally I already stand for most of the day, two years after I switched to a sit-stand desk. But I could change from sitting to standing and back every 20 minutes without losing flow. I am not sure I could do it if I had to walk away form the keyboard, even just for 2 minutes. After the third or forth break, I'm guessing I would be out of the zone.

I could never get in the habit of stopping every 20 minutes and moving around. However, after several months with my sit-stand desk, the Steelcase Series 7 (what they have at 37 signals), I find I stand for around 5-6 hours of each day. I move around while standing, and am able to switch between sitting and standing without interrupting my flow.

I'm guessing the reason that sit-stand workstation "users only stand for very short-periods (15 minutes or less total per day)" is because of people who aren't motivated to stand in the first place (i.e. their employer bought them the desk).

This intuitively makes sense. A lot of you are noting that a sedentary office environment is foreign to a species that has spent most of it time - prior to the last several thousand years - moving in search of food, and use that to critique the article. But I don't see how standing stationarily in one place is any less foreign to the human experience.

While standing might help work additional core muscles, it is not working large leg muscles that are crucial to circulation at the same time that it's increasing stress to the circulatory system.

(For those that don't know, muscle movement is important to the return of blood to the heart (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venous_return_curve) in addition to lymphatic circulation (your _other_ circulatory system - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymph#Lymphatic_circulation) )

I could see persistent standing w/o movement stressing arteries because of greater hydrostatic pressure in your legs and increased load on the left ventricle of the heart.

tl;dr Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable, downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture, then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes.

If this article is too long to read then you have bigger problems than your posture.

This study should be taken as an experiment. If those participants had been building up and down for years on end the results would show differently. When I first started to sit then stand, yes tired more easily. But then as years progressed, my own personal hampster wheel exists anywhere and everywhere. The point should be: MOVE YOUR BODY A BALANCED PORTION OF TIME. Personally, when on silly long cycles, I sit stand work dance, building every way. If the beats not cranking, it's a posture focus war from looking down, typically the screen is fixed as I'm either looking slightly up or down at it.

Everyone always over thinks it with the whole sit-stand desk. All you need to do is buy a standing desk (I simply adjusted my cubicle) and a tall chair. No adjustment required, sit when you want and stand when you want.

I'm looking into getting an inversion table. Has anyone used one of these? all the studies have been on people who already have problems such as ruptured or herniated discs.


Make sure your keyboard and monitor are very securely attached.

Yes. They're great. But don't spend too much time inverted.

Obviously, replacing a sitting desk with a standing desk is not the answer. The answer is (surprise! surprise!) do pauses after each hour and take 10-15 min. active recreation. Exactly the same as it was in a school or college. It is not about sitting or standing still all day long, it is all about moving!

Most of really good ideas have been discovered long long ago. ^_^

Anterior pelvic tilt is caused by tight hamstrings and weak posture muscles which are side effects of sitting all day. Weighted barbell squats fix this problem more effectively than anything else I know of. Walking is important, but a strong core is probably even more important for long term back health.

Doc here. Anterior pelvic tilt is a fancy way of saying "slouching". Slouching isn't bad. An Olympic squatter can slouch with the best of them. Slouching for 8 hours is bad. Stand. Walk. Just don't sit all day.

Its a shame they didn't discuss walking beyond "it makes it difficult to type". Question: if I can figure out how to type while walking, will that give me the benefits of standing while avoiding the negatives?

They don't discuss sit-stand either, beyond saying that people only stand for 15 minutes a day, and they can't find benefits, which suggests to me that in the sit-stand group they effectively ended up studying people who sat all day.

So, are they saying sit-stand is ineffective, or are they saying that in practice people just sit?

I used to want a chording, one-handed keyboard with a strap. I thought that that combined with a PDA (this was a few years ago) would be great for walking and working.

But I probably would have walked in front of a bus so it is just as well I never had one.

=) I'm talking about a treadmill. Like this: http://llewellynfalco.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-treadmill-desk...

Walking on a pedestrian trail in a park or the woods would greatly reduce your likelyhood of being hit by a vehicle... it would also be highly rejuvenating (nature is relaxing to most folks).

That was the idea, in fact.

It's too bad there is no decent way to use speech recognition to translate voice into code.

I often find myself using transcription while driving to send long emails for example... I'll dictate stream of consciousness while driving, including the um and ahhs, then when I get in, the email will just need editing to send.

That was expected, due to Nosilverbullet's law...

I never quite understood the appeal of standing up all day. Having done a couple of jobs in my youth which involved standing up all day and spending 2 hours a day on a train standing up, I couldn't think of anything less appealing.

I love my Aeron and so does my arse.

Over the last couple of years I've been having a couple of problems at work: increasing lower back pain and decreasing attention span. I had no reason to assume either had anything to do with my desk: I, too, rock the Aeron and think it's comfy as heck. I've got my keyboard and monitor at the right height. I take breaks every 30-60 minutes and go walk around. Etc.

But as the back pain kept getting worse, I finally decided to give the standing desk thing a try about 3 weeks ago. I expected my back to start feeling better, and it did -- great! But the unexpected benefit has been vastly increased focus: I somehow feel much more motivated standing than sitting. There's something that feels incredibly silly about watching YouTube or reading Hacker News while standing, and so I just don't do it. I've been more productive these last 3 weeks than I've been in a long, long time.

Perhaps it's just the novelty of a new situation; who knows. But I'm going to stick with it, for now.

How old are you? 30s plus?

What sort of strength training are you doing?

Squats, deads, lunges, back hypers, good mornings, and GHRs will do a lot more for your lower back strength than any amount of fiddling with your chair.

Not all at once, of course, but start light and work up.

Muscle is gained when it's subjected to progressive overload. It's lost when no demands are made on it. For most people, sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) starts becoming pronounced in the 30s. Strength training turns this around.

You'll also find that proper lift posture does a lot for back health -- musculature and spine.

Getting up and walking around through the day helps, of course. But it's not the total solution either.

There have been studies done -- I can't find any on a quick search -- that show that changing a working habit makes them more productive. Then it tails off. Change the habit back, and they get another burst of productivity. So you may be right, and it's just because it's new. Or it may work for you.

Hawthorne effect.

So this is why I find myself cycling between 5 different "productivity apps"

I cycle between 0 - makes me more productive :)

> There's something that feels incredibly silly about watching YouTube or reading Hacker News while standing, and so I just don't do it.

I suspect you'll get over it.

Are you standing while posting on HN now? ;)


May be something completely unrelated?

I had the same trouble ironically. Blamed my desk and chair for ages. Then I sold my car and it went away. The thing I didn't realise was that the car whilst having the perception of being infinitely more comfortable turned out to cause all sorts of muscle strains.

One of the few things I remember from my ergonomics class several years ago is the professor specifically citing Aeron chairs as terrible ergonomics-wise. His argument was that the less comfortable the chair, the better, as it forces you to constantly shift about to remain comfortable.

I'm always adjusting it so that might be beneficial after all :)

Helps me to concentrate.

  Standing in not accepted risk factor for carotid atherosclerosis. There is no shortage of research about the dangers of sitting including obesity which is a risk factor of symptomatic carotid atherosclerosis. Varicose veins wile not very attractive are not considered a serious health problem and are treatable  I would invite the author to quantify the desks with peer reviewed research. The only link was to a 32 person self survey. Not exactly the most reliable form of research.
I would also like to note this is not a peer reviewed article ones does the man have a medical degree and is not qualified to give medical advice. Not staying in one position sitting or standing and increasing your activity level is sound advice. I find the claims that standing is dangerous are surprising and are against everything I learned or read about accepted medical recommendations.

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