Field Trips Anywhere
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The standing desk

조한 2014.05.20 10:20 조회수 : 4531

By Mark Lukach. This article was originally published on The Wirecutter, a “list of great technology” curated by Wired alum Brian Lam.

If I wanted to keep my current desk, and convert it to a standing desk, I would get the Kangaroo Pro Junior. But we have recommendations for full desks that are right for people who are on a home budget or office budget, too.

But first, why would I want to buy a standing desk at all?

What Is Sitting Too Much Doing to Us?

The standing desk fad that you keep hearing about is based on a pretty substantial amount of research. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic has a scary statistic to share: here in the US, we spend more than half of our waking hour sitting down, split between watching TV, driving a car, and working at a desk. This is not good.

The problem with sitting is essentially two-fold. AJ Jacobs, editor-at-large at Esquire, and author of the book Drop Dead Healthy breaks it down this way in his newest book:

The first part is obvious: We burn fewer calories when we’re sitting. The second part is more subtle but perhaps more profound: marathon sitting sessions change our body’s metabolism.

Bill Phillips at Men’s Health writes about a study in the research journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that found, in a large research pool of 17,000 men and women, that people who “sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.”

Sure, correlation is not necessarily cause for alarm, but get this piece from a Men’s Health feature on sitting: “We see it in people who smoke and people who don’t,” Katzmarzyk told Masters. “We see it in people who are regular exercisers and those who aren’t. Sitting is an independent risk factor.”” Professor Marc Hamilton, Ph.D from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, says to Maria Masters in the same Men’s Health feature, Is Your Office Chair Killing You?, “The cure for too much sitting isn’t more exercise. Exercise is good, of course, but the average person could never do enough to counteract the effect of hours and hours of chair time.”

No, really, exercise only helps a little bit, or not at all. Olivia Judson, an evolutionary biologist and research fellow in biology at Imperial College London who writes on the “influence of science and biology on modern life” for The New York Times, says,

“It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting ? in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home ? you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.”

Jim Carlton writes, for The Wall Street Journal, ” A 2010 study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for less than three hours, while the early-death rate for men was 18% higher.”

Neil Wagner at the Atlantic writes about the most recent study, taken from a stunning sample size of 222,497 Australians by the Sax Institute. The study debates the amount of benefit of exercise in offsetting the problems coming from sitting:

“Its most striking finding was that people who sat more than 11 hours a day had a 40% higher risk of dying in the next three years than people who sat less than four hours a day. This was after adjusting for factors such as age, weight, physical activity and general health status, all of which affect the death risk. It also found a clear dose-response effect: the more people sat, the higher their risk of death.”

How Is Sitting Bad?

Olivia Judson explains the effect it has on our biology:

“But it looks as though there’s a more sinister aspect to sitting, too. Several strands of evidence suggest that there’s a “physiology of inactivity”: that when you spend long periods sitting, your body actually does things that are bad for you.

As an example, consider lipoprotein lipase. This is a molecule that plays a central role in how the body processes fats; it’s produced by many tissues, including muscles. Low levels of lipoprotein lipase are associated with a variety of health problems, including heart disease. Studies in rats show that leg muscles only produce this molecule when they are actively being flexed (for example, when the animal is standing up and ambling about). The implication is that when you sit, a crucial part of your metabolism slows down.

Nor is lipoprotein lipase the only molecule affected by muscular inactivity. Actively contracting muscles produce a whole suite of substances that have a beneficial effect on how the body uses and stores sugars and fats.

Which might explain the following result. Men who normally walk a lot (about 10,000 steps per day, as measured by a pedometer) were asked to cut back (to about 1,350 steps per day) for two weeks, by using elevators instead of stairs, driving to work instead of walking and so on. By the end of the two weeks, all of them had became worse at metabolizing sugars and fats. Their distribution of body fat had also altered ? they had become fatter around the middle. Such changes are among the first steps on the road to diabetes.”

All of this press coverage is great, and has helped to identify the real dangers of sitting. Unfortunately, all of these stories tend be pretty vague about what to do instead of spend all day on your ass.

What Can I Do About It?

First off, you don’t need to buy a standing desk to get some of the benefits of standing. You can start small. Even something as minor as taking a 5-minute standing break every hour is better than sitting all day. You can stack boxes on your desk, or do what I have done for two months and work from a kitchen counter. (I used to work on my couch with my bulldog snoring next to me.) [Editor's Note: Half way through edits, the research included in this piece terrified me so much that I had to stop and grab a bench and stack it on my desk.]

Stephanie Smith, for Men’s Health, has some tips on how to standing up at your desk: Wear footwear with padding, get used to standing slowly, over time, and to stand with one leg slightly resting on a raised object to give your spine room to flex naturally. Also, don’t be afraid to lean on your desk a little.

There are perks, aside from the health concerns above. Mainly, elevated energy levels and calorie burning. Stephanie Smith says, “Studies show that standing burns 40 percent more calories than sitting, and that just 2.5 hours on your feet per day burns 350 calories?that’s 20 pounds per working year.”

I am burning a lot more calories by standing (and fidgeting, and even sometimes dancing, which is kind of the point) than if I was sitting all day. But I think best of all is the intangible benefit of staying focused and energized throughout the day. In my sedentary life, I usually crash pretty hard around mid-afternoon. When I stand, I find that I am alert and attentive all day long. The WSJ piece echoes this, quoting a Facebook employee who stands with a company-provided desk: “Greg Hoy, 39 years old, asked for a standing desk shortly after joining Facebook seven months ago as a design recruiter. “I don’t get the 3 o’clock slump anymore,” he said. “I feel active all day long.”

If you need more reason to stand while you work instead of sit, know that Ernest Hemingway stood while he worked. So did Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo DaVinci, Benjamin Franklin and Valdimir Nabokov. On the contrary, Winston Churchill once said, “Why stand when you can sit, and why sit when you can lay down?” However, it turns out that Churchill was not being completely honest when he said this?Churchill stood when he worked, too. And he lived until 90.

What Are the Drawback and Dangers?

Standing all day long is not that healthy, either. TIME Magazine quotes Alan Hedge from Cornell University, who claims that standing 8 to 10 hours a day can lead to increased varicose veins, and a ninefold increase rate in carotid atherosclerosis (constricted arteries). This is a valid point, but I’m guessing that most people out there do not spend 8-10 hours a day standing. They instead spend that time sitting. So I still think that standing is better than sitting, just as long as you take some breaks. Because remember, the enemy is not sitting?it’s sitting all day.

When you are new to it, standing can feel tiring, and your feet can hurt. Just how uncomfortable the first week or two might feel depends upon how sedentary your current lifestyle is.

Above all, we recommend moderation with your standing. My uber-healthy sister is about a a 85:15 ratio of standing to sitting, and Shane Harris from Washingtonian Magazine is at a similar ratio. Gina Trapini formerly of LifeHacker is more like 70:30. Find your own workable ratio. Also, while there’s no science backing this, you’ll be more comfortable standing if you’re in flat shoes, or barefoot, and definitely with some type of soft mat underfoot. It’ll make the transition that much easier.

What to Look for in a Standing Desk (And: Recommended Desks and Gear for Standing)

Did you know you can design your own stand-up desk? I found a pretty genius approach at that combines parts from 4 different Ikea products in order to create a standing work station. It’s not adjustable, so you have to build it to the height that works for you, but it’s one of the best standing desks I’ve found on the Internet. Apartment Therapy has a few more options for making your own.

In fact, the inherently DIY nature of standing desks makes it hard to find “the authority” on the best desk on the market. I’ve tried to read about or personally speak with a bunch of people, especially journalists, who have worked at a standing desk for at least a few months. There is no consensus on what purchasable desk works best. In fact, most of the people I spoke with made their own. But there is consensus on what to look for in a good desk.

Your company, if it’s a big one, might splurge for you. More on those later.

Transform the Desk That Is Killing You Into a Standing Desk (AKA What I’d Get)

The Kangaroo Pro Junior. Photo: Ergo Desktops

If you already have a desk that you love, and you don’t want to replace it, consider the Kangaroo Pro Junior. It’s definitely what I would get.

The Kangaroo Pro Junior from Ergo Desktops is the best way we have found to convert a regular desk to a standing desk.

It is without a doubt the best addition for your current, well-loved desk so that it can easily convert from standing to sitting, and back again. The Kangaroo Pro Junior comes fully assembled: you just take it out of the box, and plop it down on your desk, and you’re pretty much ready to go. It features a 24″ x 18″ platform that serves as the base (the regular model has a bigger platform, but you probably don’t need it). The base level is for your keyboard. Then there’s a second level, which is for your monitor (the “Pro” actually replaces the top platform with a mount for a monitor, so if you have a monitor that you can mount, go with the Pro. These guys also have models that support larger monitors, as well. Check with them.)

With your monitor and keyboard in place, you loosen a knob and then raise and lower each of the two platforms to your desired height. Throughout the day, you can stay at your same old desk, and go from sitting to standing at free will.

The adjustable steel rod is designed to want to raise the platforms, rather than let gravity allow them drop, so you don’t have to worry about your monitor slipping down to the desk level if you over-loosen the knob. It doesn’t raise quite as easily as the press of a button, but it’s still pretty easy. Each model comes with a stabilization leg, which you wedge in between the two platforms once you have them set to your standing height. This makes the already sturdy Kangaroo Pro Junior even sturdier. Without the leg, it will unquestionably hold your monitor and keyboard, or even a laptop if you work at a laptop + monitor set-up. (We tried this.) Once you slide the stabilizing leg into place, it becomes even more sturdy, and will even hold you up if you sometimes lean into it.

I got to speak with Dan Sharkey, the creator of Ergo Desks (the parent company for the Kangaroo Pro Junior). I wanted to know why his desk attachments were free to slide around the desk, rather than clamp permanently into one place in your work station, like most of the competition. “We see that as an extreme advantage,” he explained to me. “When you clamp something to your desk, you are a slave to that position. As you’re standing and working, you might want to rest your weight on the right side, or turn your body, or lift your left leg, and with the Kangaroo, you can slide it around to accommodate your natural movement as you stand and work. Also, real estate on most people’s desk is an important commodity. The prime real estate of your desk is right where you want to sit down. If you want to sit down and write, rather than work at your computer, you can just slide the Kangaroo out of the way, and the main area of your desk is still available to you.”

This has nothing to do with the quality of the product, which speaks for itself, but the creation of Ergo Desks is one of the great recovery stories from the current economic recession. Dan worked for the same manufacturing company in Ohio for 35 years, and hurt his back in early 2009. Sitting all day at his office only made it worse, so he tinkered around with his desk to add something to it that would allow him to stand at times during the day. By his 20th model, he had finished the first Kangaroo. His friends and colleagues were curious, but he mostly just built them for himself…until he was laid off at his company due to downsizing, at age 55, wondering what the hell he was going to do. At his wife’s urging, he decided to take his standing desk hobby and make it his profession, and Ergo Desks was born. He now has 11 employees and is proud to still manufacture in the United States.

The Kangaroo Pro Junior costs $349. Dan from Ergo Desktop uses a full-sized Kangaroo, which has a bigger platform and is more stable, and says he’ll never be able to use anything smaller, but I think the Kangaroo Pro Junior will suffice for most users.

There are other desk-mount options, but the Kangaroo Pro Junior is the sleekest and the most functional. The most clear alternative is at ErgoTron (different from Ergo Desktop, which makes the Kangaroo) a company that makes a series of desk mounts that lock very sturdily to the front your desk. They are essentially adjustable monitor arms, which can accommodate a wide variety of monitor set-ups, everything from a standard monitor + keyboard, to two monitors, to a monitor and a laptop and a keyboard. In fact, the options are a bit dizzying, but closest alternative to the Kangaroo Pro Junior is the WorkFit-A, Single LD, which costs $379. I’ve had the chance to see tat the WorkFit-A, as well as another model, and the sturdiness is clearly the main benefit. But beyond that, I’m not a huge fan. They are big and bulky and very metallic and kind of look like the Terminator’s arm when he peels back his skin to prove that he’s a robot. Worst of all, their keyboard trays are super flimsy. Which means that if you actually do the laptop + monitor set-up (which I suspect is fairly prevalent), you’re putting your valuable laptop on a very flimsy platform for typing. I’ve been told by people at ErgoTron that a more laptop-friendly model is in the works.

(We usually let beat reporters handle the testing and find the best reviews, but since no one looks at these desk transformers, we checked out both the Ergotron and the Kangaroo ourselves. The Kangaroo is amazing and wins hands down.)

The Simple, Standalone Standing Desk

The Safco Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Workstation. Photo: Safco

But if you work at home, and don’t already have a desk the simple standing desk I would get is the Safco Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Workstation because it’s solid and inexpensive.

One of the biggest considerations in getting the best standing desk, and the problem with the DIY Ikea desk and standing at a kitchen counter, is the height. It’s ideal to be able to customize your desk to meet your specific height requirements. My kitchen counter is not the perfect standing desk, in fact, it’s not even that good. When I lay my laptop on it, I have to crane my neck to look down at my screen, and reach my arms up to type. I make a point of taking breaks to stretch my neck and shoulders. Is standing at the bar in my kitchen better than sitting all day? Yes. But it could be a lot better.

Also, it’s good to split your keyboard and your monitor, which is a big strike against laptops. Ideally, while standing (or even while sitting), you should be looking straight ahead, at eye-level, to see your monitor. Meanwhile, your arms should be parallel to the ground while you type. If you reach your arms straight out in front of your you, the finger tips should barely touch your monitor. All of this is impossible to do this with a laptop, since the screen and keyboard are practically attached. So your desk should optimally be built around a split monitor and keyboard set-up. And yes, you can use your laptop as a keyboard.

I was actually tipped off onto the Safco Muv model by Shane Harris, an award-winning reporter for Washingtonian Magazine. He ventured into the world of standing desks for an article on them, and his criteria for what makes the desk work is very consistent with what we look for here at The Wirecutter.

The best part of this desk is the customization of the height. It ranges from 35” to 49”, with an option for every inch in between, which means that this desk should work for most of the general population, besides the really, really short or the really, really tall.

It also comes with multiple layers. This cannot be emphasized enough. The Safco Muv has two platforms for keyboard and monitor, and two additional shelves below for things like your printer, computer base, books, paper, kittens, stuff like that.

The aesthetic of the desk is good enough, which is definitely a consideration. The combination of wood shelves on a steel frame gives it a simple, modern look that I think will work is almost every office. It comes in walnut, cherry and “grey” finishes.

And finally, it’s affordable. This cannot be said for most of the standing desks on the market. Amazon lists it at $245, which is a good deal considering you are buying a piece of furniture, and that many standing desks cost over $1000.

The Safco Muv is a great standing desk, but it is not perfect. There are two strikes against it. For starters, there is not a lot of surface area. It is pretty narrow, and really only has room for your computer, which makes it more like a standing computer station than a true standing desk. Granted, an overwhelming majority of the work we do is at a computer these days, but it’s nice to have extra space for handwriting and sketching. Shane from the Washingtonian actually uses his Safco Muv as an extension of his current desk. He added it onto his current work set-up, and has the two positioned at a 90 degree angle to each other. When he’s typing or browsing the internet, which is most of the day, he’s standing. When he’s reading something closely to take notes on it, he’s spins over to his old desk and sits…not necessarily because he wants to sit, but because there’s no room to take notes.

But the biggest strike against the Safco Muv is that is cannot be easily adjusted from a standing to a sitting desk. Once it’s built, it’s static. There is no up-and-down. T