Over the last few months many of my peers in the Mac & iOS developer community have been trying to overcome some of the health issues they have to face by sitting at a desk all day by experimenting with stand up desks and treadmill desks. After a little research I have decided to join the experiment.

The Goal

I think I would like to ultimately be using a treadmill desk as that will also help me with weight loss as well as general health and well being. However treadmill desks are not cheap (£3000+) and even building one yourself is a reasonable financial commitment. In order to make sure I don't waste my money I am going to start by trying to stand up to work and see how I get on. In order to do this I need a standing desk. Standing desks can be bought for around £400-£600. Again rather than just chuck money at something I might only stick at for a week I decided today to build a temporary standing desk and see how I do.

The Requirements

For the first fews weeks I am determined to use a standing desk that I have knocked together out of stuff I already have rather than going out and spending money. It is however important that the result is not compromised as that might not allow me to have a proper standing desk experience and therfore invalidate the experiment. As far as I can tell the most important (and maybe the only real) requirement of a standing desk is that it must be the right height to be comfortable. The suggested start place it to have a desk at about elbow height. It is also recommended that you have a place you can sit down to work when standing becomes to much. Proper standing desks have a motor that raises and lowers the desk to allow this. I currently have an L shaped desk and intend to develop one part as a standing desk and the other as a sitting desk to fullfill this requirement.

The Result

After an hour of scraping around the office for a few things and trying them out the desk has been built.

Standing Desk

The main item used to raise the height of the desk is a small Ikea coffee table that was in the company meeting room. When placed on the existing desk it has brought the height up to exactly elbow height. The coffee table alone isn't big enough as a desk so I needed to find something else to put my main monitor on. The monitor is a 30" Apple cinema display and quite heavy so it needs to go on something reasonably robust. In the end after several attempts I managed to create the perfect height stand using a cardboard box (filled with old books for strength) with a small flight case on top. (The flight case contains bits and bobs we use for NSConference so is not in constant use).

My laptop and the connecting cables, power supply etc all sit under the coffee table. My paper junk has all been piled up (until I sort it) to the left of the coffee table. The area on the right of the L shape desk has been left clear to sit at when I get tired of standing. When I sit I will just use my laptop screen rather then the cinema display as returning to a bigger monitor will be part of the incentive to stand again.

Day One

I have now been working at the standing desk for about 4 hours. My legs ache a little and I feel physically more tired than I would normally do. Interestingly however, mentally I feel better than I normall would at 4:30 in the afternoon. Four hours is by no means enough time to come to any conclusions however I am happy that I have found my first half day less painful and probelmatic than I was expecting.