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The stand-up desk craze: what is it, and how can you try it out?

Standing desks are wildly popular in tech offices and coworking spaces across the nation, and the benefits are substantial, but how do you know if it’s right for you without investing dough?

Why are stand up desks taking the professional world by storm?

Sitting at your desk for eight hours a day can become tedious very quickly, and we’ve all heard how gaining weight is a natural side effect or result of this type of sedentary behavior. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have much of a choice, as our jobs require us to sit at a computer or at a desk all day.

But the truth is that you do have an interesting option—the stand up desk. The stand up desk is exactly what you think: a desk that allows you to work while standing up.

Advantages of standing desks

There are several advantages to making the switch to a stand up desk. The first is obvious. You’ll burn more calories standing up than sitting down. This will help you be more active throughout the day so that dreaded weight gain won’t find you.

The second advantage is that it can help you become more productive. Sitting down can cause you to be more recessive in nature. But if you stand, you will feel more energized and your mind and body will know it’s time to get things accomplished.

A third advantage is that it can help alleviate back pain from being seated for long periods of time. It can build your back and torso muscles so that you can not only alleviate that pain, but get rid of it altogether, and fans of standing desks say it also helps with your posture.

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Disadvantages of standing desks

One major disadvantage to using a stand up desk is that it can be hard on your body if you’re not wearing the right shoes or even standing with the right posture. Doing anything for eight hours straight – and many times even longer – is hard on your body, no matter if it’s sitting or standing.

The second disadvantage is having lunch at your desk. In your job or industry, eating your lunch at your desk while you continue to work on tasks can be cumbersome. If so, you’ll have to find some place to sit down so you can eat your lunch, and then get right back to work after.

The final disadvantage to a stand up desk is potentially a lack of privacy. If you work in a space with many other coworkers, standing up while working could mean that you’re the center of attention and everything you do within your work station is visible to everyone around you. If you need to make a phone call at your desk, some people may watch you absentmindedly. If you need to reapply some makeup or zip up a forgotten zipper, guess what? You’re basically on a stage.

The takeaway

Stand up desks have taken the professional world by storm because they promote a healthier lifestyle than the alternative. However, making the switch will take some getting used to. In fact, you may feel wiped out during the first few days or weeks as you adjust. And if you want to take it one step further, there are even stand up desks with treadmills.

Or, if you don’t want to commit to one type of desk, you do have the option to purchase a desk that converts to a standing or sitting desk. The important thing is that you’re aware and you take control of your health and your professional life. Ultimately, you’ll need to decide and act upon which method works best for you.

Bonus: try out a stand up desk right now

Before investing in a new desk, or creating your own, Lifehacker style, there are some ways you can try out a stand up desk to see if it is something you even like, as visually outlined below:

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stand-up desk

Remember, ergonomics are important, and there is such a thing as a standing desk that is too high or too low, so study the visual below, and go to the Ergotron calculator and enter your height to see where your personal standing desk needs to be.

standing desk

For more inspiration, visit and do a search for “standing desk” and “stand up desk” to see what is already being used in the workplace.

Written By

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.



  1. BullRealty

    September 20, 2012 at 5:45 am

    @mheschmeyer when you tried stand up desk, did you have sit down option? Nice to sit and then stand sometimes like when making sales calls?

    • mheschmeyer

      September 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

      @BullRealty Did not Michael. It was like standing behind a pulpit.

      • UpDesk

        September 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

        @mheschmeyer I agree with @BullRealty. It’s more about finding the perfect mixture of sitting AND standing.

  2. okaycitynate

    September 20, 2012 at 8:35 am

    @ShowMeOKC I do! I’ve been working at a stand-up desk since January and I *love* it!

    • ShowMeOKC

      September 20, 2012 at 8:36 am

      @okaycitynate Awesome! What are the top 3 things you love about it?

      • okaycitynate

        September 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

        @ShowMeOKC Off the top of my head: My back feels great, I have more energy throughout the day, and it’s easier to manage desktop clutter.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

          @okaycitynate Thank you! Those sound like major benefits.

        • okaycitynate

          September 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

          @ShowMeOKC downsides: my feet sometimes hurt, it’s harder to eat lunch at my desk, and it hasn’t helped me lose one extra ounce.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

          @okaycitynate Those makes sense too. Do you move around a lot more than you did before?

        • okaycitynate

          September 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

          @ShowMeOKC not as much as I’d expected, but yes.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

          @okaycitynate Thanks for the info! Really helps to have input from real-life locals 🙂

  3. desireegood

    September 20, 2012 at 8:56 am

    @ShowMeOKC I love my standing desk! I still use a chair occasionally but like the option to do either.

    • ShowMeOKC

      September 20, 2012 at 8:57 am

      @desireegood It sounds great! How long have you been using the standing desk?

      • desireegood

        September 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

        @ShowMeOKC about 6 months. I have an IKEA desk with adjustable legs but I wish it would go a little bit higher.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:01 am

          @desireegood Great! So, was that desk made to be a standing desk, or did you modify it?

        • desireegood

          September 20, 2012 at 9:11 am

          @ShowMeOKC The legs are adjustable so it’s made to be taller but even though I am only 5’3″ it still needs to be about 4″ higher.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

          @desireegood Ah, interesting. Seriously considering it here in the office.

        • desireegood

          September 20, 2012 at 9:15 am

          @ShowMeOKC there are about 20 of us that have gone to the standing. One guy even had custom legs made to get the height he wanted.

        • ShowMeOKC

          September 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

          @desireegood Wow! Any chance you could send a pic of how your office is set up with all those standing desks?

    • UpDesk

      September 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

      @desireegood That’s actually what we suggest! It’s all about finding the perfect balance of sitting AND standing. (cc @ShowMeOKC)

  4. jonbenya

    September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve been wanting to switch to a standing desk for a long time.  Finding one worth buying seems to be the challenge.

  5. UpDesk

    September 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    @RaymondDuke Why don’t you get one then?

    • RaymondDuke

      September 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

      @MyUpDesk still figuring out how I could make my own. I’m on a budget; on both $ and living space.

      • UpDesk

        September 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm

        @RaymondDuke Ah, gotcha! Here are some tips for you in the meantime:

        • RaymondDuke

          September 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm

          @MyUpDesk Cool – thanks! Have a great rest of your week UpDesk Twitter persona!

        • UpDesk

          September 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm

          @RaymondDuke Yes, sir! You as well! Hope those tips were helpful to you 😉

  6. Roland Estrada

    September 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I love the idea. It becomes problematic if your office has built-ins. It would be nice to find add-on solutions that don’t look clumsy. 

  7. HltyOfficeSpc

    November 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    @hltyofficespc offers a Transition Workstation that works with your existing desk. This product is a great alternative to the D.I.Y desk because it features a slim, portable design that is easy to store when not in use.

  8. NatalieGrigson

    November 23, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Thanks very much for the post. I know there are advantages and disadvantages to standing all day– which you pointed out very succinctly and clearly, thanks! But it is also no good to sit around all day. I’ve read over and over that the best solution is to switch between sitting and standing, moving and staying still throughout the day. Once I found this out, I switched, not to a standing desk, but to a NextDesk. NextDesks are adjustable height desks, totally eco-friendly, easy, beauuuttiful, and even have adjustable keyboard trays (which is apparently much better for your wrist comfort and posture. 4 months after starting to use one, I see that it is!)
    Anyway, I’ve been very happy with my adjustable height desk so far. If you’d like to check them out, here is their website:
    Thanks again for the post!

  9. NatalieGrigson

    December 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Charlene,
    Have you thought about using an adjustable height desk? Don’t get me wrong, some of these standing desks pictured look very nice, but what do you do when you want to take a break for a moment and sit down?
    I use a NextDesk at work– it’s a type of adjustable height desk. I really like it. At first I was sitting most of the day and taking “standing breaks,” but now I hardly ever sit down. When I do want to, though, it is nice to have that option without having to have two desks or a stool (stools usually don’t have the best back support, which kind of defeats the purpose of having an ergonomically friendly standing desk, no?)
    Anyway, I just thought you might want to check them out. They also just came out with a smaller and more affordable model, good for home offices, etc:

  10. H_Phillips

    February 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I evolved my standing desk from:

    1) boxes propped up on a desk with keyboard on top.
    2) Encyclopedias placed under a desk to prop it up.
    3) Working on top of a tall dresser.
    4) Finally built a custom desk out of IKEA.

    I can’t say how gratifying it is to have a REAL desk and not working on a stupid collection of boxes or staring at a stack of books on the floor. Do yourself a favor and make the jump…get rid of your sitting desk and buy/build yourself a dedicated standing desk. Here is the one I built. I used about $115 of IKEA stuff and bought a kit online ($79) to extend the VIKA Artur desk to accomodate my height (I’m 6’3″).

  11. Pingback: Stay Healthy and Productive with a Standing Desk - Revedecor

  12. Pingback: OfficeHealth: the crucial app for anyone that sits at a desk all day - AGBeat

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